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“The Signalman,” by Charles Dickens

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The Signalman Essay The story "The Signalman," by Charles Dickens, has the supernatural as its main theme. The author builds up a sense of fear and tension gradually to maintain the interest of the reader. Stories, which include supernatural events, were undoubtedly as popular in the Victorian times as they are today. This is probably because the reader enjoys being scared. During Victorian times railways were a relatively new invention. People saw trains as huge ogres, because most people did not know much about trains. This meant that some people feared them. An example of this is, "Just then there came a vague vibration in the earth and air, quickly changing into a violent pulsation, and an on coming rush." This makes the train sounds as if it is alive by using personification. The narrator seems to feel disturbed by it. The author of, "The Signalman," builds up a sinister atmosphere by using descriptive details. An example of this is where he tells us the, "Cutting was extremely deep," and, "Unusually precipitous. It was made through a clammy stone, that became oozier and wetter as I went down." ...read more.


The Final warning is not in fact a warning; instead it was the signalman's death. This suddenly became more personal to the narrator than any of the other events; this is because the narrator knew the signalman, and what he was like. The signalman's character is a very interesting one. When you think of the education that is needed to be a signalman, than you may think of someone who has dropped out of school, or failed their exams. However this is not true with the signalman he was, "A student of natural philosophy." The narrator found out that the signalman, "Had run wild, missed his opportunities, gone down and never risen again." This shows us that the signalman's character was successful in his education, however he did not apply this academic ability to his choice of occupation. The relationship between the narrator and the signalman develops throughout the story. Starting form the beginning, when the signalman ignored the narrator. "Halloa! Below there!" Shouted the narrator, "One would have thought, considering the nature of the ground, that he could not have doubted from what quarter came the voice; but instead of looking up to where I stood he turned himself and looked down ...read more.


This is because he was very upset and depressed about the death and crashes that had happened on his part of the railway line. He was so depressed that the only way that he could see to stop his depression was to throw himself under a train, this was also to stop the guilt of all the lives that might have been able to save had he have been doing his job probably. The reader knows that the crash and the bride's death was not the signalman's thought but that's not what the signalman thought. The second explanation is that he did not see the train because he was too busy dealing with what he though might have been a ghost beside the railway track. If this is the case then it was nothing more than a freak accident. If there was to be any blame passed than it would have to go to the signalman for standing in the middle of the railway tracks. However he cannot be blamed entirely. The train was coming out of a dark tunnel. Also the train was also painted black. Black the colour of darkness. So the train was easily camouflaged within the tunnel. ...read more.

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