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19th Century Short Stories Coursework

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Introduction

19th Centaury Short Stories Coursework In the short stories the Signal man and Red room, fear and suspense are built in a variety of ways. Some ways the authors achieve fear and suspense are through the environment, character description and linguistic devices. In Red Room, one of the methods used to create fear and suspense is the description of the elderly inhabitants of the house. Wells manages to make the reader fearful and suspicious of the elderly man, by describing him as having a 'withered arm'. Those with disabilities, at the time the story was written, were seen as inferior, and were feared. By giving the elderly man a disability the author creates an air of suspense and mystery around the character. By making the inhabitants of the supposedly haunted house old, the author could be trying to create a ghostly atmosphere. Wells describes them in a ghostly manner 'The old woman sat staring hard into the fire, her pale eyes wide open' and 'His lower lip, half averted, hung pale and pink for his decaying yellow teeth'. The word decaying has connotations of death, which relates to the main idea of a ghost. The protagonist also describes them as being 'spectral'; this could be suggesting the elderly people are the ghosts. Old women are commonly associated with witches, which relates to the supernatural. ...read more.

Middle

The signalman also uses many different methods to create fear and suspense, some of which are the same as in the red room and some which differ. When the signalman hears the call 'Hallo, down there' from the protagonist, he 'looked down the line' as opposed to where the voice is coming from, above him. This makes the reader suspicious of the signalman because of his strange behaviour. As this the first event in the story, it encourages the reader to assume it holds some significance to the conclusion of the story. In the 19th century these mystery stories were enormously popular and wee often published episodically in the newspapers. To encourage the readers to buy the next issue, there are many cliffhangers throughout out the story to try and inspire people to read on. The strange reaction to the call 'Hallo, down there', could have been the end of the first episode, and as the signalman's reaction was suspicions, it would inspire readers to but the next issue. The signalman also does other things, which are seemingly unexplainable to the protagonist such as hearing a bell ring twice, without the protagonist being able to hear. This inexplicable behaviour builds suspense and fear for the reader because if people do not understand something, they are fearful of it. ...read more.

Conclusion

The author also uses the fear of the expectation of death to build suspense. As we are told by initially, the protagonist is sentenced to death. This is mentioned so early in the story because it prompts the reader to be expecting his death, and as the story draws nearer and nearer to an end, the tension is built in the reader, as they are expecting the inevitable death. Fear and suspense is also built when the most horrific of choice to either plunge to his death by jumping into the pit, or to be gruesomely sliced in two by the swinging pendulum. The author's description of the ominous 'destroying crescent' at the climax of the story encourages fear and suspense in the reader as the protagonist is left helpless awaiting the ever swinging pendulum. Fear and suspense are built up throughout both stories and the authors rely on people's fearful and irrational nature in order to keep them interested. For example, the slightest mention or suggestion of the supernatural convinces the reader that there is a supernatural presence. This device is used in both stories. Darkness is also a recurring theme that relies on people's fear of the unknown. This is still true today, as mankind is always wary of things that are unknown, or in 'darkness'. Simran Lotay ...read more.

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