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Compare and contrast The Monkeys Paw by W.W. Jacobs and The Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. How do the writers create suspense and tension?

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Introduction

Compare and contrast 'The Monkey's Paw' by W.W. Jacobs and 'The Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. How do the writers create suspense and tension? In this essay I will be comparing 'The Monkeys Paw' by W.W Jacobs and 'The Speckled Band' by Arthur Conan Doyle. They are both pre 1914 stories. I will be paying close attention to the way in which suspense and tension are generated by the writers. Both of these stories are well known and popular with many. Although both are very different in genre. The Monkey's Paw is a psychological horror story, which is meant to disturb the reader; horrific details are revealed which builds up a detailed image. The imagined prospect of Herbet's body unsettles the reader simply through imagination rather than a gruesome reality. 'The Speckled Band' is a murder mystery, which is meant to intrigue the reader, and include the reader in the mystery. Conan Doyle and W.W Jacobs use these genres very well and create the mood that they need and keep the reader interested. 'The Monkeys Paw' is written in a third person narrative. The effect that this type of narrative has on the reader is that it is much easier to create the tension, and the extent of the horror. It makes you feel detached. This helps to keep the reader guessing. ...read more.

Middle

Both of the writers use various techniques in their writing to build up suspense in their stories. The suspense and expectation is promoted by the description at the beginning of 'The Monkeys Paw' 'A bit of what you might call magic', this shows how the writer begins to build the mystery and suspense at the beginning of the story. This is because magic arouses suspicion of the reader. 'The three listeners leaned forward eagerly' this quote show that the readers should be getting more interested as the characters in the book are. And the sense of expectation begins. When Morris retells the tale of 'The Monkeys Paw' has an impact on his listeners due to its impressive and exotic history. Herbert's frivolity contrasts with the seriousness of the situation a few times throughout the story 'Said Herbert, with pretended horror' this shows how Herbert does not take 'The Monkeys Paw' seriously, which in the end is to his peril. Morris makes it clear that he takes the Monkeys Paw very seriously 'If you keep it don't blame me for what happens' This shows that Morris takes the Monkeys Paw very seriously and does not wish for anyone to use it due to its great consequences. Yet he never reveals why there are such harsh consequences At the start of 'The Speckled Band', Conan Doyle alerts the reader to a problem 'He was a late riser as a rule' this shows that there is a disruption to Holmes and Watson's usual routine. ...read more.

Conclusion

Until silence is restored 'The knocking ceased suddenly' and then equilibrium is restored and there is once again a sense of stability. Sound is used in 'The Speckled Band' to create that air of suspense, like 'The Monkeys Paw' there is equilibrium and it is disturbed by a quiet sound which then gets louder until it stops and the stability is restored. 'a very gentle soothing sound' this is when the silence is disturbed and the suspense is started. The climax of this is a very tense moment and is full of tension and suspense 'There broke from the silence of the night the most horrible cry to which I have ever listened. It swelled up louder and louder, a hoarse yell of pain and fear and anger all mingled in the one dreadful shriek' this is the climax of the tension and is very well written to make it a tense moment. Telling how silence is broken and it then goes on to describe in detail how dreadful the shriek is. Light and dark symbolism is used compellingly, it helps to set the scene and make the reader more in touch with the story. The main use of the light and dark in 'The Monkeys Paw' is towards the end when it helps tell the reader about the mood at the point of this story 'The darkness was oppressive' this portrays the mood of the story very well as it implies how dark the mood is. 'The street lamp flickered opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road' ...read more.

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