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Analysing 4 Short Horror Story Openings.

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Analysing 4 Short Horror Story Openings In this piece of coursework, I am going to analyse 4 Horror Story openings. The first is 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens. It tells the story of a man who comes across a seemingly normal railway cutting with a mysterious story to tell. The second is 'The Tell-Tale Heart' by Edgar Allen Poe. The main character, who is seemingly mad, has a grudge against an old man because of his 'vulture eye' and this drives him to take drastic action. For the third story, there is 'The Landlady' by Roald Dahl in which the main character is taken victim by a seemingly harmless Landlady of a small guesthouse. Lastly, there is 'All But Empty' by Graham Greene. In this story the writer finds a man in a cinema with a puzzling and inexplicable tale. The settings for all of the stories openings have something in common to link them together. 'The Signalman' uses very atmospheric words to describe the cutting, its surroundings and the time of day. The actual cutting is described as "extremely deep and unusually precipitate". These words give the reader the feeling that the cutting is forbidding and uninviting to the narrator/writer. The time of day that the opening is set is mid-evening, just as the sun is setting. ...read more.


The writer of "All But Empty" portrays the cinema as an empty place. He says it had "almost invariable, total emptiness". This links with "The Signalman" and "The Landlady" in this respect because it makes the reader think of the isolation the main character must be feeling. The music that is playing in the film he describes as "blurred metallic music". This makes the film seem as if it is of no consequence and he is not really watching it. This shows that the mans mind is somewhere else. He also describes the air as being "stale" which adds to the old feeling that we get right from the beginning. We tend to think of old things as being mysterious and this adds to the opening. In 'The Signalman', a lot of questions are raised as to the secretive nature of the main character. One of the questions raised is why doesn't the signalman answer when the writer, stood on top of the cliff, talks to him? It is obvious for the reader that he is confused in some way but it still leaves the question as to why and what is confused or worried about? This is shown when the writer writes "instead of looking up to where I stood on top of the steep cutting nearly over his head, he turned himself about and looked down the line". ...read more.


Another similarity between all of the stories is the way in which the writers have described the victims. They are portrayed as someone who is innocent and unaware of their fate. Billy Weaver in 'The Landlady' is described as 17 and that it is his first time in Bath. This makes him sound innocent and vulnerable. Sounds also play a large part in the stories. 'The Signalman' has a part where the train comes from out of the tunnel: "Just then there came a vague vibration in the earth and air, quickly changing into a violent pulsation". This perhaps is a forewarning to the sudden death that the signalman is about to meet. The way in which the stories are written is perhaps the biggest impact on how the stories make the reader feel. Charles Dickens has written the story so that there is not much dialogue in the beginning maybe showing that the two characters find it hard to communicate with each other. Edgar Allen-Poe uses a dramatic amount of punctuation in 'The Tell-Tale Heart' to make the reader realise how the killer is talking. The sentences are disjointed with lots of exclamation marks e.g. "True!-nervous-very, very dreadfully nervous". This is added to make the reader know how he is feeling. Amy Bramley ...read more.

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