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Both the Signalman (Charles Dickens) and The Darkness Out There (Penelope Lively) have unexpected endings, compare the way the tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by the endings.

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Introduction

English Coursework - Short stories: Task: Both the Signalman (Charles Dickens) and The Darkness Out There (Penelope Lively) have unexpected endings, compare the way the tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by the endings. In short this essay will discuss the build up of tension in the abovementioned short stories. Tension can be perceived in different ways, for some it may be the anxiousness and unpredictability of the story, for others it may be psychology. The dictionary describes 'tension' as; 'a state of being tense' and 'mental or emotional strain'. 'Tense' in itself means; 'showing anxiety or nervousness'. Therefore, I can surmise that Lively and Dickens hoped to build up the tension by making the reader feel anxious and nervous. ...read more.

Middle

In addition, the concept of Lively's story examines history rather than looking at the present or future. Indeed, World War II features heavily in a lot of Lively's books probably as this event extended through her childhood and she moved to Britain from Egypt a short time after the war. Dickens starts his story by immediately describing the signalman in what I believe to be a somewhat sinister and ghostly fashion, for instance he is described as '...a dark sallow man, with a dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows' and '...a saturnine face...' In addition the cutting where the signalman works is depicted as '...there was a barbarous depressing and forbidding air...' and '...the perspective one way only a crooked prolongation of this great dungeon...' ...read more.

Conclusion

Again the reader is relaxed and the man in conversation with the signalman utters 'I should have set this man down as one of the safest of men to be to be employed in that capacity...' comforting the readers mind. However the tension is again built up take for instance this quote, 'While he was speaking to me he twice broke off with a falling colour'. 'I am troubled sir ... it is very, very difficult to speak of...' at this point the reader feels tense in asking the question, what was difficult to speak of? The signalman then talks through his supernatural encounter, 'I ran right up at it, and had my hand stretched out to pull the sleeve away, then it was gone". The tension is now very strong and a Victorian audience would be engaged in this story, fascinated by its paranormal fundamentals. ...read more.

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