• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast the ways in which Dickens and Hardy use superstitious beliefs and supernatural elements to present and develop their main characters in their social settings and local environment

Extracts from this document...


Compare and contrast the ways in which Dickens and Hardy use superstitious beliefs and supernatural elements to present and develop their main characters in their social settings and local environment Paul Jannece "Halloa, below there!"- this straightforward and seemingly innocuous introduction to the stranger, who becomes entangled within the complexities of the signalman's eventful life, is one that we have heard several times throughout the tale. Dickens has, however, over the course of the story, altered the significance of this line. At the commencement of the story, the manner in which this exclamation is received may lead the reader to believe that the signalman is, in fact, the spectre. But we later learn that it is the spirit himself that will use this line. By repeating the same three words, Dickens has imprinted them in our minds and therefore enabled us to see the irony of them when reflecting upon the happenings leading to the untimely death of the signalman. In The Withered Arm, however, we are not presented with a recurring line, but a repeated sense of sincerity. Hardy has made each of the characters to sound very common and poorly educated ("He do bring home his bride"), though this is not the case with Rhoda Brook. ...read more.


When the stranger appears, he speaks with great confidence and enthusiasm, suggesting that he has been brought up surrounded by many people of different cultures, and now he has entered this life of solitude. He is filled with curiosity as he repeatedly questions the tasks set before the signalman and then requesting a second visit, so that he may learn more. The signalman, however, seems very drawn back and quiet, partially due to his fear of the stranger but also due to his solitary lifestyle. This severe contrast in characters allows the audience to assume that the stranger is a typical person, meaning that the signalman stands out as a more abnormal element of the story. Rhoda Brook, from The Withered Arm, has also adopted this sense of curiosity, as seen in a rapidly spoken discussion with her son concerning the appearance of Gertrude: "Well, did you see her?"/ "Yes; quite plain"/ "Is she ladylike?", etc. Both Rhoda and the stranger are developed in the same way: both ask a string of questions at the person toward whom their inquisitiveness is based upon, only becoming contented when finding a blemish with their "subject": Rhoda is delighted to discover how short Gertrude is whereas ...read more.


In the Signalman, though the nature of the spirit is clear, it's reasons for making itself known are highly unobvious. In the Withered Arm, our attention is driven directly to the dream which Rhoda envisions. This is a declaration of abnormality, and we are able to make accurate decisions, regarding the author's intentions, about what we are supposed to believe. In conclusion, I feel that both Dickens and Hardy have equally unique, though equally powerful methods of communication when discussing the aspects of the uncanny. Both authors, through styles of their own, have allowed us to broaden our acceptance of what is possible. Personally, I feel that Hardy was the more successful of the two, due to his presentation of the consequences as well as showing the power to be true, unlike Dickens, who's tale is likely to confuse the reader depending upon their own interpretation skills. Hardy has enhanced our visualisation by showing the effects on the other characters, as well as the subject of the ill-doing. By doing this, he has also altered the setting from a pleasant, countryside scene, to a dark, dismal and overpowering environment. This has harsh effects on Gertrude, as we are shown that her beauty is dismissed before she had even begun to scratch the surface of the shell of self-contempt. ...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. In what ways is "The Signalman" a typical ghost story?

    was on and that it was a shame the signalman had missed his chance. The narrator seemed to have summed the signalman up before he'd got to know him personally or heard any of his past, like he was judging a book by its cover.

  2. What Elements Proceed in Making the Monkeys Pawa Successful Horror Story?

    The repetition of shades helped in creating a certain mood for the atmosphere, 'brightly, darkness, fire'. Not only were shades repeated but also sounds 'heavy, coughed, banged'. The language all throughout the story tended to be very formal due to its pre 20th century background.

  1. Examine how the theme of isolation and the supernatural are explored in 'The signalman', ...

    character has no friends and has no life outside work or home life. In 'The Dream Woman' Isaac is a character who is dependant on his mother and always returns to her house. This makes the reader feel that he has no other life or friends and is also reiterated when the narrator says "Isaac!

  2. Comparing two short stories, "The Withered arm" and "The Monkey's paw", discussing what part ...

    The characters are not only affected by the supernatural, but also by their own feelings, as we see how Rhoda is jealous of Gertrude and the supernatural shows what jealousy can do; "Rhoda Brook could raise a mental image of the unconscious Mrs Lodge that was realistic as a photograph."

  1. Prose study of 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens,' The Superstitious Man's Story' by Thomas ...

    The signalman is shocked when the narrator shouts down to him, because he thinks, the narrators voice is a premonition from the spectre. He looks down the line instead of where the voice is obviously coming from; it is as if he is looking for something.

  2. Discuss the role of fairies and/or the supernatural in the medieval lay. You should ...

    the fairies when lying in a meadow or under a tree - particularly the ympe-tree described in Sir Orfeo. In Celtic tradition is it believed that those who lie or fall asleep under a tree or in a meadow place themselves in the power of the fairies.

  1. Compare and Contrast "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens and "The Withered Arm" by Thomas ...

    It is important that such a provocative setting is achieved at the start of the story as it entices the readers. The setting will also mirror that of the atmosphere and a vague likelihood of possible outcomes. Dickens creates the scene very well, describing it through the observations of the narrator.

  2. Compare and contrast the ways in which Dickens and Hardy use superstitious beliefs and ...

    The gossiping milkmaids describe her as "rosy-cheeked titsy-totsy little body" in the first paragraph, as a rumour. But when her son in law sees her she is described as having a face "as comely as a dolls". Over the years though Gertrude changes considerably into an "irritable, superstitious woman, whose

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