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Both ‘The Red Room’ and ‘The Darkness Out There’ have unexpected endings. Compare the way tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by how they end.

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Ben Gait English Essay 10R1 Both 'The Red Room' and 'The Darkness Out There' have unexpected endings. Compare the way tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by how they end. There are many similarities between 'The Red Room', by H G Wells, and 'The Darkness Out There', by Penelope Lively. They both have unexpected endings, and both contain horrific stories of death in order to add tension. Furthermore, both of the aforementioned writers build up tension and suspense (key elements in keeping readers interested in a story) by using several commonly practised methods, including but not limited to the use of descriptive words, the language, the settings, format and the use of pathetic fallacy. However, there are some crucial differences in the historical and social settings. While Wells, writer of 'The Red Room', aimed his story at a Victorian audience fascinated by the supernatural, and tried to excite people with instant action, tension and ghost stories, Penelope Lively aims her story at a modern audience and uses a more psychological approach. Firstly, I will explore the titles of the two stories. 'The Red Room', to begin with, implies of some sort of haunted setting, as 'Red' could refer to blood or danger. 'The Darkness Out There', meanwhile, suggests a more supernatural theme, although the story does not follow through with that theme. ...read more.


Sandra is a typical girl, who dreams of having 'a place in the county', a 'brown pony' and a dream family. Her attitude towards Mrs Rutter for the most part is very sympathetic, although the gets a bit uncomfortable at times, such as when Mrs Rutter says 'there's only me to see if you're showing a bit of bum'. When she finds out Kerry is there she is disappointed as she doesn't like Kerry and wants to have a giggle with her friends. She evidently doesn't think much of him, as the story mentions how his chin is 'explosive with acne', and his 'blacked, licked down hair and slitty eyes'. We don't get much of an insight into Kerry's opinion of Sandra however. Mrs Rutter is an interesting character, and is probably the most important tension builder in the story. She appears to be very stereotyped; the round plump body, the shrivelled and wrinkled face and the kind yet patronising language towards the children. However, we learn that she has a dark side, as referred to in the title. The story explores how people's behaviour is affected by their past, and this in itself builds tension. The stereotypes help to enhance this. The characters in The Red Room are strange. The inhabitants of the house all seem very eccentric in their own individual ways, as explained by the fact that they are not referred to by name, but rather by characteristic (e.g. ...read more.


The last thing I will mention is the themes. 'The Darkness Out There' is about how people's behaviour is affected by their past. It has a war theme, as Mrs Rutter talks about the German plane crashing during the war, although of course the actual story is set much more recently than that. The theme in 'The Red Room' is definitely ghost stories. The tension and suspense in the story revolve around the mystery and aura surrounding ghosts and haunted castles. Because it is a ghost story, and ghost stories have a reputation for being unpredictable, people know that anything could happen at any moment, creating suspense. It borrows most of its excitement from the fact that it is a ghost story. In summary, both 'The Darkness Out There', by Penelope Lively, and 'The Red Room', by H G Wells, use many different methods to build up tension and suspense, to varying effect. They have similarities and differences, but they both succeed in building up tension and suspense to a good level. In my opinion, the more successful text is H G Wells' 'The Red Room'. It uses more traditional methods of tension building, to greater effect. It also has a more satisfactory ending to that of 'The Darkness Out There', which simmered off towards the end in my opinion. Although both are good stories, I prefer 'The Red Room'. ...read more.

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