• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9

Comparative Essay between "The Signalman" and "The Pit and the Pendulum"

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Camilla Way 10:L - Comparative Essay between "The Signalman" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" English GCSE Coursework (Miss Rees) Compare and contrast "The Signalman" and "The Pit and the Pendulum", concentrating upon how the writers attempt to create suspense. This piece shall be examining two contemporary horror tales and comparing the ways in which both inflict horror and suspense upon the reader. The first story, "The Signalman", was written during the Georgian - Victorian era, between 1812 and 1879. Charles Dickens was a well-known author, he also wrote many best-selling novels. An American author, Edgar Allan Poe, however, composed the second story. The story was named "The Pit and the Pendulum", and was finished in 1842 before the American Civil war. The Signalman: The opening of the story held my attention, mainly because of the subtle language and effective repetition used by Dickens. For example, at the beginning, when the narrator cried out "Halloa", Dickens shrewdly highlighted that that word was important in the piece. Dickens impressed my mind with tension by clever use of language. For example, he described the embankment of the rail track as a "deep trench". This sets a very claustrophobic impression of the place upon the reader, and also the word "trench" reminded me of a grave, so this is one of the many words which implies the supernatural in the story. More suspense is created in the opening of the story as the Signalman looked down the line when called, rather than looking up, at the top of the embankment where the narrator was. This grips the reader who is puzzled even more by what is happening, and it is as if Dickens wants us to look at the 'depths' of things rather than what is 'obvious'. Another part of the story that builds suspense is when the train passes through the tunnel. This gave me an indication of how good the rest of the story was going to be when I read it. ...read more.

Middle

E.g. "O, how did this happen, how did this happen? Now the narrator is worried, his sympathetic nature allows him to resort to repetition. This points out to the reader that the narrator was genuinely concerned for the Signalman and believed that he had been haunted. This brings the story to some sort of crescendo because something macabre has actually happened, based on what a man, now dead, had seen. The ambience gets even more chilling when the narrator discovers how the Signalman died. The spectre foretold the Signalman's own death, but its even further tension-packed when you realise that the spectre actually led the Signalman to his own death. This completes the ghoulishness of the tale as the reader seems to realise that the spectre was driving the Signalman towards insanity, and when he was completely insane the Signalman's possession by the spectre would lead to his own death by someone trying to warn him of his death. This is the ironic twist that makes the tale so memorable. The variety of language that Dickens selected, together with the supernatural events and the apprehensive style of the story produces a gripping mystery that is full of paradox. The Pit and the Pendulum: This story is written about a man sentenced to death during the Spanish Inquisition, a 'holy war' between Protestants and Catholics. In this study I shall be examining how factors of horror and suspense influence the readers and can draw them into the deep "pit" of Poe's imagination. One of the first things I observed was that Poe deliberately mentions the word "death" twice in the first paragraph, to make sure the reader is disturbed by the horror of the thought. Then, to emphasise that this punishment of death was clear to the man, Poe mentions hallucinations that the prisoner had, such as "voices seemed merged into one dreamy indeterminate hum". ...read more.

Conclusion

We also manage to see exactly how disgusting and sick minded the narrator's torturers were. So the readers are living through the narrator's experiences in a vivid way. Again, this is where more revulsion is experienced. In "The Pit and the Pendulum", Poe creates more trepidation through the atmosphere he introduces, and also more dread and uncertainty than Dickens. This is unique, as both these descriptions were valid right from the beginning, to claim the reader's interest. For example, the story even started with the dire sentence: "I was sick - sick unto death with that long agony". This kind of language influences frightfully drastic thoughts of terror, and the reader is discreetly drawn into this, as one is led to investigate the reasons for the narrator's discomfort. Even though the amount of suspense in "The Pit and the Pendulum" isn't as good as that in "The Signalman", the way that Poe did it is still highly skilled. The main source of suspense in the story, is achieved when Poe starts using his imagination to lead the reader on, so we, as readers, are given hope, but each hope is dashed. This pattern is repeated throughout the story, and Poe's aim of using this tactic is fulfilled - by creating thorough abhorrence. Where tension is concerned, "The Signalman" is a little more intense than "The Pit and the Pendulum" for various reasons. For example, most of the uncertainty in "The Signalman" is built by the clever use of circumstance and events in the story. Dickens built most of the suspense throughout the tale, by writing in ideas, which make his readers realise the suspense for themselves. Thus, Dickens appealed to the readers' intellects, keeping them spellbound. While both authors' style is different, both are entertaining and Dickens' descriptive detail contrasts with Poe's more morbid depth of imagination. Camilla Way 10:L - Comparative Essay between "The Signalman" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" - English GCSE Coursework ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Signalman section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Signalman essays

  1. Literature G.C.S.E Prose Critique

    In the next paragraph of the story Mrs James is suffering from sunstroke. Timperley has used literary devices here to make this a very effective piece of description. 'The roses glared whitely.' This is personification and from this we can imagine how Mrs James is feeling and what she is seeing.

  2. Describe the ways Dickens creates mystery and suspense in 'The Signalman'.

    Whilst he continues, Dickens resumes the notion that the signalman may be insane; the spectre may be a figment of his deranged imagination. The body language reveals how distraught the man is~ "he wiped the drops off his heated forehead".

  1. In what ways is "The Signalman" a typical ghost story?

    I never left of calling to him. I put this arm before my eyes not to see, and I waved this arm to the last; but it was no use." And finally after hearing the signalmans state of anguish the narrator tries to decide what to do next:- "Though in

  2. Examine the ways in which Charles Dickens builds suspense in 'The Signalman'

    interacts with other humans and could explain the way he reacted when spoken to previously. The visitor says that there is something about the man that 'daunted' him - the way he 'directed a most curious look' at the 'red light' and the way he looks all around, especially at the tunnel as though 'something were missing from it'.

  1. The Signalman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Napoleon and The Spectre. In this essay I ...

    Both stories have a unique and bizarre ending and are not particularly happy. The Signalman ends up being killed, despite the warning of the gesticulating figure at the mouth of the tunnel and The Emperor goes into a state of catalepsy.

  2. "The short story is the ideal form for writers who want to create a ...

    Although the 'right one,' the direction his jealousy was leading him to, was a 'wrong direction,' the one which led to the killing of his wife. "Instantly my hands were at her throat, stifling a shriek, my knees were upon her struggling body; and there in the darkness, without a

  1. Prose English

    room with some sort of presence around them, the only sound you hear is the crackling of the fire apart from that its silence, I think that's enough to put anyone on the edge of their seat. Towards the end of the story, the narrator doesn't mention much sound only his cries of fear.

  2. In this essay I am going to examine the techniques used by Charles Dickesn ...

    the lines and did not react to the whistle no the waving and shouting of the driver. The spectre, the narrator and the engine driver had all waved ad shouted the same words. 'Halloa! Below there!' is the first sentence of 'The Signalman' and Dickens uses assonance to create an echo sound as if the narrator was in a tunnel.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work