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An analysis of the characteristics of the horror genre with particular reference to 'The signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The pit and the pendulum' by Edgar Alan Poe.

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Introduction

Comparative essay. Task: An analysis of the characteristics of the horror genre with particular reference to 'The signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The pit and the pendulum' by Edgar Alan Poe. After studying the two short stories I have analysed the characteristics of the horror genre with close reference to 'The signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The pit and the pendulum' by Edgar Alan Poe. The characteristics of the short stories that show the horror genre is the way in which they have been constructed the short sentences, the punctuation such as the over use of exclamation marks, the suspense, and the description of mental and physical torture. Both stories are written in the 19th century and symbolise the horror theme in a variety of styles. 'The pit and the pendulum' is a story of a man condemned to death by the Inquisition. This death is not a simple one, since he is thrown in a dungeon with no light and lots of dangers. 'The pit and the pendulum' is about a prisoner in a nightmare tale who is disturbed by a pendulum blade that is gradually descending towards him, terrifying him each time it comes closer. ...read more.

Middle

This area is well described by Dickens as a cold, dark, damp and lonely place. There is particular emphasis on the loneliness of the place where the signalman spends a lot of his time and this makes the reader feel a bit sorry for him. Dickens also emphasises the dark and the damp in this deep railway cutting, he does this mainly at the start of the story to set the scene, but all the way through he makes little references to the atmosphere and general mood of the railway cutting. Dickens uses words such as 'clammy', 'oozier' and 'wetter' these words are all words that describe the cutting to be dull and depressing already giving the reader a unease feeling about the setting. Dickens descriptive sentences and lengthy paragraphs attract the reader's attention. Dickens also uses lots of dark words like 'solitary' this shows the signalman must be lonely, 'dungeon' illustrates that he is imprisoned in his job. The words 'depressing' and 'foreboding' are used to make the setting seem dangerous and dramatic it creates a more intense atmosphere. The line ' a dripping wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky' is used to make the signalman appear as if he had been imprisoned in his job. ...read more.

Conclusion

I fancied that I saw it in motion". But as the pendulum dropped, his language became much more descriptive and intense - "Down - still unceasingly - still inevitably down!" It gripped you more and makes you want to read on. Maybe this is why he had so many occasions in his stories when he was irate or mad, so the reader became gripped and more interested. He often uses similes and metaphors, which also helps and makes symbols using characters or objects he mentions, for example, in 'The Pit and the Pendulum', he describes the candles on a table, as angels, next to the jury that was about to sentence him to death by torture, as images of the devil. The emotions were very well portrayed and very detailed vocabulary was used. For example- 'I was sick- sick unto death with that long agony; and when that at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me'. The emotions that the narrators felt affected the stories and the more descriptive they were, the more you could picture them and the more the story came to life in your imagination. ...read more.

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