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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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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. This is an essay concerned with how both 'The Signalman' and 'The Darkness Out There' both build up tension to make their readers anticipate what is going to happen during and throughout the stories. They are both similar in the way they both speak about death and have death incidents during the stories. The two stories have unexpected endings. The writers of the two short stories are Charles Dickens for 'The Signalman' and Penelope Lively for 'The Darkness Out There' both experts when it comes to suspenseful writing. One of the reasons for the differences between the stories is that they are written in different times, different centuries. 'The Signalman' is written pre-twentieth century for a Victorian audience interested in the supernatural i.e. ghosts. Two supernatural horrors/thrillers-'Dracula' and 'Frankenstein' both written late 19th century had sparked people's fascination in the 'Gothic'. Since there was no proof that in the 'Gothic' or lack of it, it lets people's imagination play with the thought of mythological creatures. But the author of 'The Darkness Out There' Penelope Lively is writing nearly one hundred years later, when peoples' horror and fascination has moved to a higher level, one of a psychological approach. This means the exploration of how people's behaviour is affected by their past and the past of others. I find a psychological approach to be more scary as it relates to people and the real reactions they have, it makes the horror more real because knowing this could all happen and people were to blame and nothing else is a scary thought that people don't like to focus on. 'The Darkness Out There' Tension throughout this story is built up in many different ways. ...read more.


The location of this short story, helps create suspense because of how it is described, - "The cutting was extremely deep and unusually precipitous. It was made through a clammy stone, that became oozier and wetter." This particular extraction from the story is continuing with building suspense as it uses strange words like 'precipitous' which not being a word a lot of people know can lead to wondering and etc and the 'oozier' is used and that word just creeps you out. In another description says, - "On either side, a dripping wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all but, a strip of sky." This creates a picture of eeriness and this sentence is broken up with punctuation causing pauses therefore creating tension and suspense. The following words are also used for describing the underground place: 'great dungeon', 'barbarous', 'depressing', 'foreboding', 'deadly smell' and 'as If I had left the natural world.' All these words and phrases create suspense, as they are all miserable and unsettling for added effect the location is down in a deep tunnel. The character, the Signalman is so unnerving he is a major cause of tension throughout the story. An example of this is that the Signalman doesn't speak a word for the first two and a half pages, even though someone is talking to him continuously for those two and a half pages. 'I repeated my enquiry...he seemed to regard me with fixed attention.' This means not only is he not talking he is starting intently at this stranger without reason. 'His attitude was one of such expectation and watchfulness.' This gives a weird description of an attitude. 'He directed a most curious look towards the red light near the tunnel's mouth, and all about it, as if something were missing from it and then looked at me.' This compels the reader to wonder what is holding the Signalman's attention/concentration and makes him seem so distant. ...read more.


When the author leaves the story he is more bewildered than what he started off. The way the two stories are written. 'The Signalman' was written for a Victorian audience so reading it nowadays doesn't make for great reading unless you're into that sort of written story. Also the two writers come from different backgrounds and cultures making the stories even more diverse from one another. The characters even though similar in ways, have their differences. For example, Mrs Rutter starts off pretty normal, but gradually gets more and more disturbing; unlike the signalman who starts by being disconcerting but towards the end of the story you can see he has a legitimate reasons as to why he acts so peculiar. 'The Signalman' is a supernatural fear story due to the time period it was written, 'The darkness out there' is a psychological fear also due to the time it was written. Conclusion My conclusion is based on my opinion of the two stories. They both build up tension and suspense brilliantly in their own ways but they had slightly different ways in which the built it up. When I read 'The Signalman' it was an all right story it just took too much to understand it so by the time I did, it had lost my enthral in it. I enjoyed 'The darkness out there' far better as it didn't take as much attentiveness to keep with the story it was simple yet convincing, the language was simple to read and the characters were easier to follow. The endings were both out of the blue, but I enjoyed how Mrs Rutter was portrayed as an innocent old woman and not with the horrible history she kept to herself. My reasons for not enjoying 'the Signalman' as much were because the language was difficult to make sense of most of the time. Plus spectres and ghosts don't hold my thought as much as psychological fear/horror, which makes reading more intriguing. When it comes down to it, it's a matter of opinion as to the better suspenseful thriller. By Katrina Spiteri ...read more.

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