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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 story ends.

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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 story ends. 'The Signalman' and 'The Darkness out there' both build up tension using distinctly different methods. 'The Darkness out There' is subtler in its approach to building up the tension; it hides the shocking truth beneath a cloak of near normality. So when the truth is revealed the reader experiences increased surprise and horror. 'The Signalman' in contrast builds up tension more by a series of tense and frightening events throughout the story that build up to the end event, the death of the signalman. Both stories share a similar list of ingredients, both use tension to achieve horror and shock realisation, both have a spooky setting, and both have interesting characters. These are common elements in horror stories. Both stories however are written in different ages in time and so directed at different types of audiences. 'The Signalman' is directed at a Victorian audience that existed when the author Dickens wrote his short story, this audience was not as demanding as the modern audience because they did not have access to all forms of media and had not experienced many story alike to 'The Signalman. This is why the Signalman has a much more traditional approach to its horror story than 'The Darkness out There'. 'The Darkness out There' was aimed at the modern audience that is more experienced of horror and is not so easily amused, as the Victorian would be. However both stories have succeeded in building up tension and horror for their audiences. 'The Signalman' is a story about an isolated Signalman who is haunted by a ghost. This drives him to the point of insanity. He is discovered by a wandering man who quickly befriends him and becomes interested in the lonely man and the life he leads. ...read more.

Middle

The tunnel is the focus point of the novel and Dickens illuminates its eeriness and foreboding atmosphere with this description. Other words such as "barbarous, depressing and forbidding", "deadly" help to set this spine-chilling scene. This description builds up tension because frightening events usually come joined to unpleasant scenes in ghost stories. The lengthy description introduces the reader to the story and the kind of images and feelings that will be included in it. Dickens use of painful personification, like 'angry sunset� and 'violent pulsation� contribute greatly to the stories impact upon the reader. A glimpse of the idea that something supernatural may be going on is described in the "chill" that strikes our wandering man he feels "as if I had left the natural world". This builds up tension through describing an unusual feeling and makes the reader also feel a chill. We are told that the observer has a "monstrous thought" this being that he thinks the Signalman may be a "spirit" when first meeting him. This adds a lot of tension because it is a chilling supernatural thought, however it is clear that he is no spirit and we are left wondering about this and feeling tense. The observer also tells us that he on looking back on the series of events has "speculated" whether the Signalman himself might have "infection in his mind". This is unnerving and builds up tension because most people fear insanity and madness. This is unlike the scene built up by 'The Darkness out There'. The scene built up in 'The Darkness out There' is a lot less threatening and damp, dark and depressing. It is not a supernatural atmosphere in the slightest. The story leads us into a sense of false security with its descriptions of characters and setting. This puts us in such a relaxed state of mind that we are easy prey to sudden fear. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lively lulls us into a false sense of security with her stereotypical characters and picturesque setting very successfully and then shatters the dream bring out the darkness within Mrs Ratter. The fact Mrs Ratter feels absolutely no remorse or guilt frightens the characters and us and we want to hurry away from Mrs Rutter in her isolated cottage like the characters did. 'The Signalman' uses a spooky setting, the weird Signalman, and a series of horror filled cliffhangers to build up tension for us. This is a much more traditional approach to tense horror stories and Dickens achieves it very successfully. However for me, an example of the modern audience, does not find 'The Signalman' very shocking or interesting. This is down to several reasons. The story was written for a very different time where people were very different and unlike today they did not have access to television and the cinema where horror stories are regularly displayed for us. The Victorians were sheltered from the market of horror that has become so large one today. What would seem terrible and horrible for them seems tame and boring for us today. 'The Signalman' is written for an age and the age has passed. That's why I find 'The Darkness out There' much more tense and horror filled than 'The Signalman'. 'The darkness out There' plays the audience very well. It uses their own imagination and ignorance to the "darkness out there" to drive the story and makes me feel a sudden terrible rush of tension when reading about the "darkness" hidden behind Mrs Rutter. It uses a steep ascending slope of tension from the point in the story where Mrs Rutter tells her tale instead of in 'The Signalman' where there is no steep slope of tension just a straight line that wobbles from time to time. However if I was born about 100 years ago I think I would find 'The Signalman' a much more tense story. ...read more.

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