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Both the Phantom Coach and the Red Room are Victorian ghost stories, however they arrive at different conclusions about the supernatural. How do the writers portray this.

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Introduction

Both the Phantom Coach and the Red Room are Victorian ghost stories, however they arrive at different conclusions about the supernatural. How do the writers portray this and what do these stories tell you about the changing attitudes to ghosts in the 19th Century? During the Victorian era, there was much scientific discovery and scientific explanations more importantly. People felt that everything had a scientific explanation. The idea of something that could not be explained with good logic or understanding came across as frightening which is a key motive for horror; the unexplainable. Because a great amount of the worlds land mass (1/3) was ruled by the British Empire, people were thirsty to conquer more and more. I would imagine the idea of something that is unexplainable and unstoppable would appear unconquerable to the Empire. It is this idea that makes them feel vulnerable and thus scared. Both the ghost stories 'The Phantom Coach', by Amelia B. Edwards in 1852 and 'The Red Room' by H.G wells in 1896 are both Gothic ghost stories written in the Victorian era of 1832-190 yet they both portray their explanation of the supernatural in different ways. 'The Phantom Coach uses the 'living dead' as a frightening theme and the use of peoples nightmares. The contrasting theme in the 'The Red Room' is the imagination and the power of the mind to scare the reader. ...read more.

Middle

The red-eyed man acknowledges his presence and yet still gives no answer to his question. This is a sign of disrespect for him. His 'red eyes' symbolize evil. When it is described cleverly by Wells as 'shot another glance', the reader gets the impression of fear. Shot is a very powerful word, which usually results in the death of a character. It is almost as if he is now marked for death and prone to the horrors of the supernatural. The red-eyed man is in the shade. This shows that he is surrounded by black, which gives connotations of mystery and deception, which is scary as he will be unpredictable. Another link between the two stories is the way both Wells and Edwards make the journey tedious for the main character to find a way out (as in "The Phantom Coach") or a way in (as in "The Red Room"). "You go along the passage for a bit,' said he, 'until you come to a door, and through that is a spiral staircase, and half-way up that is a landing and another door covered with baize. Go through that and down the long corridor to the end, and the red room is on your left up the steps." The man giving directions uses the words 'for a bit'. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'The Phantom Coach' James Murray plays the main character, he is a young barrister who has been married for only 4 months and likes hunting grouse. This shows he is upper class as the sport is a notorious upper class pastime. The author uses James as a young man arrogant to the belief of the supernatural. The fact that this confident, upper class young man can be affected by the powers of superstition gives the reader the feeling that everyone is venerable to superstition. The dramatic contrast in the character of James Murray to the servant Jacob also emphasizes that young people are naturally skeptic towards superstition. Jacob is depicted as 'shambling', 'unceremonious' and 'reluctant' but uses his knowledge of the surrounding moors and stays out trouble because of his superstitions. Jacob is the contrary of James. The setting of the 'Red Room' is very much a gothic genre. The room itself is an isolated part of the country; a fire is present along with candles, shadows and elderly mysterious people. 'The Phantom Coach' was written in the early fifties-the starting point of the Victorian era for scientific discovery. This is why the readers accepted the idea of the 'living dead'. But further on into the scientific discovery's of the era. The idea of supernatural activities was not accepted, as it was believed that science had the answer for everything. 1 ...read more.

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