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“Darkness out There” and “The Signalman”

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M.Daniel Wider reading assignment Introduction Both the "Darkness out There" and "The Signalman" have similar qualities. Both stories have limited characters, however both make infrequent references to other characters. This is a device used to limit the main plot, which is easier to make the ending shocking and horrific. The general basis of the stories is situated in a calculating plot, however it is disguised. Clues of this plot are given as tension is built up steadily though out, by many situations and some of the characters acting unusual or strange. For example, in the "Darkness out There" Mrs Rutter who is a typical stereotype of an old woman suggests that Sandra should "mind your skirt, pull it up a bit". The audience of The Signalman has little idea of the ending, which happens to be "shocking". This is similar with the "Darkness out There". Both stories involve death, however for Dickens this is not unusual. Throughout the Signalman, the actual Signalman plays a vital part in the story. So for him to die is unexpected, and very unpredictable. In the "Darkness out There" a same key character, or important role does something unexpected. This adds to the shock, as the audience does not participate in the main role being killed, or revealing sickening news. ...read more.


Again this sets the scene for something unusual to happen. When the audience knows of the "spectre", further tension is built up upon the Signalman and the narrator seeing the spectre. The narrator agrees to see the Signalman the next day, however he and the audience have a terrible shock! Now I will describe how tension is built up in "The Darkness out There", by Penelope Lively. The first immediate sense of tension and suspense is the mention of Packer's End. "...Suddenly shutting off the bare sky of the field. Packer's End," "Suddenly", and "shutting off" give readers the impression that Packers End is a bad place-full of mystery and sin. "Packer's End" is in its own sentence, for full impact. After this the text then explains you don't go by yourself. [To Packer's End.] "Not after teatime, anyway". This is a child's danger, which implies it is not a "real danger". However we share Sandra's danger and fear, this is evident as "she wouldn't go in there for a thousand pounds, not even in bright day like now". This illustrates how dangerous Sandra believes Packer's End to be. To add further tension the author depicts "crumbling rusty scraps of metal and cloth and...bones?" This is a question that illustrates the fears in Sandra's mind. ...read more.


The danger of the darkness out there is not harmful, as Mrs Rutter is not likely to do anything "evil" again. Also Mrs Rutter does intentionally cause harm to the children, and the damage done is not really appalling. The damage done in the Signalman however is much more harsh, as the eventuality is death. Although the two stories are written in different era's, and the authors are unusual compared, the novels are the same in some respects. Conclusion Now I will discuss which of the two stories I prefer, followed by a personal response. I have previously evaluated the two stories. Both stories have the same qualities, which is an expertly wrote tension builder-which leads to a dramatic ending. However I don't personally like this type of story, and especially when the endings are not dramatic enough , which I think applies to "The Darkness out There". Therefore personally I preferred "The Signalman". These stories cause the audience to think about the story at the end, and come to their own conclusions. But personally I believe the bulk of the stories are wasted in creating tension, and of which tension is used throughout and too regularly. I believe the audience would read a much more enjoyable and entertaining story if "incidents" occurred more in the actual story, not just at the end. This way the author can describe the outcome and effects of the situation. ...read more.

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