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Compare and contrast the ways in which the authors set out to create a sense of fear and tension in their readers - Which of the stories is the most effective and why?

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Introduction

Aanchal Clare 10M1 Compare and contrast the ways in which the authors set out to create a sense of fear and tension in their readers. Which of the stories is the most effective and why? In this essay, the two stories that I will be comparing are: 'The Whole Town's Sleeping' which was written by Ray Bradbury and 'A Terribly Strange Bed' written by Wilkie Collins. Although written in different periods (one in the 19th Century and the other in the 20th Century) both writers succeed in playing on the readers' fears and therefore both producing good quality thriller stories. I will be analysing which techniques in each story create the right atmosphere and overall which story is more effective. Tension is shown clearly throughout the structures of both stories, however the writers use different techniques to create suspense in their writing. In 'The Whole Town's Sleeping' the writer tends to use a lot of false plateaus which changes the pattern of the structure and therefore the tension in the story tends to rise and fall which may leave the reader somewhat 'wary' of what is going to happen next. An example of this is when Lavina and the rest of the girls are walking and they see a shadow of someone in front of them. ...read more.

Middle

The imagery throughout both stories plays a significant role in helping to create tension and suspense. In 'The Whole Town's Sleeping' the writer uses a lot of imagery, which helps to create tension and to build up the right atmosphere. A good example of how Bradbury uses imagery in his story is when the three women are walking down the street and they are all alone. "...the echoes following like gunshots". In this quote Bradbury successfully manages to set out the scene and the reader can visualise the empty street, also the particular words he uses are effective because they have connotations of death and danger. Similarly in 'A Terribly Strange Bed' Collins also successfully manages to create tension by using imagery. For example when Faulkner enters the gambling house with his friend the writer starts to describe the other characters in the room. "...wrinkled old man, with the vulture eyes and the darned greatcoat". The words used in this quote are very well chosen, for instant, 'vulture' - from this word only we can imagine what the character is like because 'vulture' has connotations of craftiness and slyness. It also tells us that we should watch out for this character because he is like a vulture and vultures swoop down on their prey and are very quick, its almost like the man is preying on Faulkner this is telling us that Faulkner should be careful about this man or he is going to catch him out. ...read more.

Conclusion

However the downside to having a resolved ending is that it does not really have the same effect as a cliffhanger and drops the tension level. Overall, I personally think that 'The Whole Town's Sleeping' is the better story because the techniques the writer uses are more effective than what are used in 'A Terribly Strange Bed'. Furthermore I think the way the story has false plateaus and also the way that the story is built up till the end and then there is a cliffhanger is very effective. I think that is very effective and creates a lot of tension. In conclusion I think the techniques used in both stories are very effective and the way both writers play on the reader's fears both succeed in creating an effective atmosphere for the story. Both of these stories will attract a large audience because people like to read thrillers. The reasons that I have found for such keenness for thriller stories is that people like to experience the adrenalin rush and the fear but at the same time from a 'safe distance'. Furthermore we all seem to have a sort of fascination with death and to many of us death is almost like our worst fear, and maybe we tend to be interested in thrillers because it helps us to 'confront' the idea of us passing away. Furthermore in today's society I think that thrillers are still popular because now people can relate to the story lines because it happens. ...read more.

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