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"A short story should stimulate the imagination and hold its reader in suspense."Consider the statement in relation to stories from the ghost / mystery genre.

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Introduction

"A short story should stimulate the imagination and hold its reader in suspense." Consider the statement in relation to stories from the ghost / mystery genre. (Think about style, language, setting characters, suspense and climax) A short story is a condensed fictional narrative typically concerning a relatively small number of characters. Short stories may aim to excite the reader provoking emotional responses, to the situations or characters described in the piece. The ghost / mystery genre presents unexpected events, building a sense of anticipation as the reader waits to see how the plot will develop. The short stories that this essay will examine were written in the nineteen-century, a period in which people were intrigued by the supernatural and mystery. In particular, the ghost and mystery genre provided Victorian readers with an escape from their strict moral codes of behaviour. It was in this period that the short story first became recognised as a genre in its own right. Victorian audiences favoured the short story format as they became a popular feature within newspapers and magazines. In the early 1900s, education improved, more people were taught to read and therefore short stories were seen as a good method to increase levels of literacy. Consequently, reading became a social pastime with short stories being a form of education and entertainment. ...read more.

Middle

Similar to this is Charlotte Bront�'s "Napoleon and the Spectre" however, within this story the reader is engaged by the conversational style; "Well, as I was saying..." This approach makes the reader feel more involved, although it is difficult to empathise with the character at dramatic moments because the third person narrative is used, distancing the protagonist's thoughts from the reader. Consequently, formal, descriptive language has been used to create a tense atmosphere. Imagery is important within a short story because it allows the reader to feel a part of a scene in terms of appealing to the reader's full spectrum of senses. Sights, sounds and smells allow the reader to make connections with the story, reinforcing the danger of a situation and emphasising the state of a character's mind. In "The Tell Tale Heart" Poe refers to the eye of the old man by using the image of "I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye" The reader imagines the old man's eye to be something like a bird of prey, stalking the narrator. The irony is that the narrator is in fact stalking the old man. The use of a bird of prey increases tension and perhaps gives the reader an insight into the paranoia of the main protagonist as he plots his deadly deed. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Bronte's "Napoleon and the Spectre" and Wells' "The Red Room", candles are used within the settings and the light may be seen to represent hope. Therefore when the candles flicker and go out the characters' hopes could be seen as fading. As the light goes out, the reader is encouraged to pity the characters. "It was after midnight that the candle in the alcove suddenly went out..." When a character's hope fades the reader may share his anxiety and feel compelled to read on to find out the horrors he endures. Repetition is a technique that authors use to highlight to ensure that it takes on greater importance in the readers' minds. For example repetition can be used to suggest danger to sustain the reader's interest so that they await the character's fate. The insanity of the eccentric narrator in "The Tell Tale Heart" is conveyed in this way as Edgar Allan Poe uses repetition to accentuate the character's obsessive nature. The reader witnesses his mental condition, as he repeats the word "cautiously" to describe his meticulous actions. "I undid the lantern cautiously - oh, so cautiously - cautiously (for the hinges creaked)" The effect of this repetition is that it keeps the reader's interest as the tension is sustained; the reader may worry about the welfare of the old man when confronted by a character who is so obviously deranged. ...read more.

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