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Both The Signalman 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 the stories end.

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Introduction

Both The Signalman 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 the stories end. Although the settings and periods are very different, I will show how both of these short stories include similar incidents involving death and how the two authors build up tension through to the unexpected end. Both of these writers are superb at creating, and carrying, tension through the story and I found reading the books a real treat! The writers have written for a distinct audience: one for a Victorian, who were fascinated by the supernatural, and with the train as a new nineteenth century invention they were very frightened in what could happen. Dickens saw this as a perfect opportunity for the setting in the new book. Lively's twentieth century audience had more psychological thought, and were very interested in how people's past could affect them in the future. So, this is what she wrote about, and it was worth doing so, as one of her recent books: "Moon Tiger" was a huge success and picked up an award for best English literature book of that time! When I was looking at the word "suspense," most of the explanations I found were very much related to the two stories I had been studying. It holds your interest, it keeps you wondering, and it has a state of uncertainty. The Signalman and The Darkness Out There definitely kept me asking questions and they also kept my interest extremely well. The initial story I am going to look at is The Signalman, by Charles Dickens. Dickens had a particular gift for describing characters. He makes the character very well known to the reader and you almost feel close to them. He had an eye for grotesque characters, and throughout his book we are welcomed to clever, disturbed and caring characters. ...read more.

Middle

It also said that it had a force. This is very strange as you would not usually expect a train to have force and as the Victorians were very scared of the trains at this time this added a problem to the reader as it made them more scared than they already were! The next gripping sentence I will analyse is: "...I should have set this man as one of the safest men to be employed in that capacity" He should have? Then why did he not? There must have been something about him the visitor was unsure of which made him say that he should have! Why was he not safe? The visitor obviously thought he was, or should have thought he was, so why was he unsure of him? Was it that he had an in explicable air upon him? Or was it that he was a spirit? "The monstrous thought came in to my mind, as I perused his fixed eyes and the saturnine face, that he was a spirit, not a man." As I said earlier, either the signalman or the visitor could be the ghost! Also, in another sentence, the signalman had a fallen colour, which means that he was very pale and you could say he was as white as a ghost! Dickens tries to prepare us for the inevitable and he does this in many ways, for example with the long sentence of: " With an irresistible sense that something was wrong with a flashing self-reproachful fear that fatal mischief had come of my leaving the man there..." Why was there a sense? And where did it come from? Was it supernatural? I have now finished reviewing these sentences but would like to add that even though this is not one of his stories from his magazine, he still leaves the final sentence, a long one, as a cliffhanger! ...read more.

Conclusion

Mrs Rutter suddenly changes, in the last couple of pages in the story, from being a polite old lady, to someone who left a man for dead. This surprised the children, but Rutter seemed to be amazed herself as to why they were amazed; she must have thought that is was fine to leave the man there! Penelope Lively concentrates a lot on giving us a lot of detail on appearance. She sometimes creates stereotypical appearances, which she did in this story, for a lot of her characters. This is a deliberate method she uses in order to create a sense of surprise and to emphasise her essential idea in the story, which is that appearances can be deceptive. Penelope Lively, in the story, is trying to make us aware that evil is not always obvious, like in Dickens' story. She starts off by giving us childhood fears about Packers End from Sandre, about witches, wolves and tigers. Then we hear from Sandre about teenage fears like rapists and attackers, but by the end of the story Sandre has realised that evil is out there in many forms and that you cannot always notice them and can never shut it out! There are not that many similarities between The Signalman and The Darkness out There, but what I did notice was that they both include someone who is very difficult to judge. Both the main characters has certain things which it is almost impossible to form a confident opinion about, as you are being faced with people who are very different to what they appear to be. Dickens has a distinct style of writing compared to Livelys and they both build up tension in different ways. Dickens builds up tension through little things which can be broken down, but Lively creates tension by describing characters and lets them build up suspense for the reader. Lively brings her own fears and opinions about certain things into the story but Dickens expresses himself and takes what he has been through into his story. This works very well in separate cases. ...read more.

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