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A comparison of two ghost stories - One is called 'The Signalman' which was written by Charles Dickens in the 19th century. The other story, is called 'The Follower' by Cynthia Asquith

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Introduction

A Comparison of Two Ghost Stories I have been working on two different ghost stories, which were written by two different people. One is called 'The Signalman' which was written by Charles Dickens in the 19th century. The other story, is called 'The Follower' by Cynthia Asquith written in the 20th century. Both stories are set in different times and places, 'The Signalman' is set in the countryside and remains more or less the same throughout the story. But in 'The Follower', which is based in the city, is set in many different places. Both writers, writing at different times, use many techniques to make their stories frightening and gripping. Charles Dickens might have written his story to say something about the society he was part of, because people at that time were known to have lots of doubts about the future, it was a time of great social change. Cynthia Asquith wrote her story in the twentieth century; her story was about a woman. I think Cynthia Asquith may have been trying to express the concerns and experiences that are common to some women in this society. Both stories belong to the same genre of ghost stories. Short ghost stories were popular in the 18th century, perhaps because we needed to find evidence of the supernatural somewhere. I think people enjoy reading ghost stories because it is a change from everyday life, or the enjoyment of being scared in the safe surroundings or waiting in suspense in finding out what happens. Some people also like reading ghost stories because it expands their imagination and because the unknown is more frightening than the known. The story 'The Signalman' is about a man whose whole life is revolved around the railway line. One day, on the railway line, he sees someone waving its arms as he runs towards it, he finds that there nothing there, few hours later there is accident. A few months later, the same thing happens and a young lady dies. ...read more.

Middle

The characters in this story weren't really clear to me, the story never mentioned anything about Mrs Meade's family except something about her children. We never really got to know her character except how she felt when she was being traumatised by these experiences. I think Cynthia Asquith did this deliberately by not telling us anything else, she allows the reader to feel what it was like to be unable to think about anything except the ghost. The language Charles Dickens used in the 'The Signalman' is more complex than 'The Follower' it is less immediately accessible for us to read. The story is started in a different way to 'The Follower', because as soon as the story opens, someone is calling out to an another person: 'Halloa! Below there!'. We get no information of who is calling out and who is below there, or what place there at. Unlike 'The Follower', where the story opens by telling us a name of a women who is sitting in a nursing home because of a heart trouble. The opening line is also a shorter length than the other lines which quickly gives us a sense of tension. Also in the opening line, Dickens has used a exclamation mark twice, I think he did this because he is emphasizing that this line is important throughout the story. There is a repetition of the words: 'Halloa' 'Below', again I think Dickens did this to make the story unusual so it grabs the reader's interest. In the language, there is a use of nature: 'angry sunset', this is when the colour red is introduced, it suggests that there is danger. The word 'angry' gives us a ominous feel. There is a repetition of the words: 'red light' throughout the story, I think this is purposely done again because the red is associated with danger. Because the use of language used in 'The Signalman' is not easy to understand, the story will be less appealing to the younger generation. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think the author is trying to explain and express her views on how women are treated in society today. This story deals with a lot of fears a woman has today, being followed and stared at by strange men, not having the freedom to travel without being scared and the biggest pain is of losing a child. These are common fears for a woman, their lives are restricted and their freedom to travel. This story might be trying to say that women's fears are not taken seriously by men because in the story Mrs Meade talks to a number of men, who do not believe her. She is not taken seriously, her doctor thinks they are hallucinations, another thing the story might be saying that male doctors are quick to judge a woman mentally unstable if they have a fear about something. Women don't have their stories listened to properly, not many men believe a woman about her fears. I think both writers were successful in making their stories frightening. In the 'Signalman', I found that the spectre's movements and the place he was standing at very chilling Also the isolated place where the signalman works and lives sounded very forbidding, it is a very scary place to live and it is very lonely without having other people around you. I think in the end where the train driver said the same words as the ghost worked really well because that just sends a shiver up your spine because we know that everything the signalman said was true. The Follower, was also very good story, at the end where he pulls his mask off was really scary. The story had a very good ending, no one knowing what happened. Also when the doctor walks in with a mask causes a lot of tension. The story I liked best was 'The Follower' because that frightened me, finding out what could happen to you, just because you're women also because it was more interesting. 5 1 Pavandeep Johal 11z Page English Coursework Ms Brar ...read more.

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