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Analyse those features of nineteenth century mystery stories which create interest and atmosphere and those features which indicate a nineteenth century context.

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Introduction

Analyse those features of nineteenth century mystery stories which create interest and atmosphere and those features which indicate a nineteenth century context. The three stories, H.G. Wells' "The Red Room", Charles Dickens' "The Signalman" and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Solitary Cyclist" are all mystery stories as is Ray Bradbury's "The Pedestrian". They convey many aspects of suspense, terror, mystery and, in "The Red Room", horror. They are all written and set in the nineteenth century (except "The Pedestrian" which is written and set in the twentieth century) and contain interesting atmospheres. There is a range of interesting features that are portrayed throughout these short stories and they convey the strangeness of the characters in the way each individual character operates, whether they are lonely, intelligent or brave. The syntax of the first three stories is late nineteenth century and would be seen as quite awkward and formal to the modern reader, for example in "The Red Room", "Eight and twenty years" We can see that the word order is peculiar and not something the modern reader expects to find in any recent novels. Language similar to this is displayed throughout "The Red Room" and "The Signalman" and, on occasion, "The Solitary Cyclist", such as this quote from "The Signalman", "For I had a mortal abhorrence of the place upon me" The syntax of this statement is quite modern, whereas the language is much more formal and awkward. ...read more.

Middle

Watson in "The Solitary Cyclist", despite still having its basis in early nineteenth century literature, the syntax is more modern, such as, "You could not find a lonelier tract of road anywhere, and it is quite rare to meet so much as a cart, or a peasant." Here, the wording used is quite older than the syntax which is more modern. The syntax of "The Signalman" and "The Red Room" is a lot more complicated and formal. These two stories portray their language in different forms, however, to ensure the reader is compelled to read on, as the atmosphere is described in the stories style. For example, in "The Red Room" many Gothic elements are included to describe the castle in which it is set as being dark, damp and dangerous. The effect that is created gives horror, tension and suspense; all effective elements of this particular genre. "The Signalman" is not categorised as a Gothic horror, but more of a subtle version of one. The elements used in "The Signalman" are more mysterious and tense rather than the horrifying language used in "The Red Room". The signalman is descriptively detailing past events that occurred before the beginning of the story in "The Signalman" and he does this as though he is telling a story. This is where we get the 'story within a story' effect which allows the reader to create their own second, imaginative picture of the environment within "The Signalman". ...read more.

Conclusion

"The Signalman" does not use either dramatic irony or keep its readers in the dark, but instead has the story build up an intense atmosphere of fear and mystery then create a shocking climax at the end. "The Red Room" also does this but it is the way that it builds up its intense atmosphere that sets it apart from the other stories. "The Signalman" does this by descriptively detailing the signalman himself, the environment around him and the events leading up to his death. This is done pedantically with only very choice words being used. For example, "...an arm gesticulating, with the utmost passion and vehemence" The language here has been chosen specifically to enhance the severity of it. The use of language that is nineteenth century but without nineteenth century syntax contributes to the overall effect, as it is more formal and complex, whilst nineteenth century syntax would make it seem less common. "The Pedestrian", being a twentieth century short story, has a more basic syntax and vocabulary but achieves the same ends by using quick, colloquial sentences that intensify the situation that the main character, Leonard Mead, is in and Ray Bradbury does this by creating an uncomfortable situation that the reader can sympathise with. In comparison to "The Red Room", "The Pedestrian" is a lot more comical and ironically amusing, whereas "The Red Room" is quite the opposite with a strict tense atmosphere; irony is also apart of "The Red Room" but it is not at all comical, as it is on the subject of ghosts, a regular associate of horror stories. ...read more.

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