• 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 writers use of tension and suspense in the two short stories "Lamb to the slaughter" By Roald Dahl and " The Signalman" by Charles Dickens.

Extracts from this document...


In this essay I will compare and contrast the writers use of tension and suspense in the two short stories "Lamb to the slaughter" By Roald Dahl and " The Signalman" by Charles Dickens. Tension is a state of mental strain or excitement, where as suspense is a state of anxious uncertainty or expectation, when information is kept back for a certain purpose. Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and lived through the industrial revolution and wrote mainly about social and living conditions among the working class. Charles Dickens was strongly against child labour as he had worked as a child himself and had therefore experienced the brutality that this society possesses. In "the signalman" we can tell that the story is pre-twentieth century by the way that the story portrays no women whatsoever and the signalman can stand on the railway lines. Supernatural element reflects Victorian fascination with the paranormal as a reaction against the rapid advances in science and technology during the nineteenth century, which seemed to deny the existence of a spiritual dimension to life. The story is written in first person, which makes us feel as if we are there. ...read more.


He uses descriptive language to create a weird or even scary image for the readers in the nineteenth century because the only entertainment that they had was reading and when somebody in a safe environment is confronted with something like that, it can be very scary and sensational. In this story "Lamb to the slaughter" Roald Dahl misleads us into thinking that Mary Maloney and Patrick are happy. He convinces us that Mary is a sweet, kind even angelic character by the way that he describes her as "glowing" and content. He disguises the fact that something bad will happen (as in "The signalman" the whole story is about foreshadowing) so when it does happen the reader is confronted with a confused and shocking situation. In the two stories the settings and characters are very different. In "lamb to the slaughter" the story is possibly set in a suburban house in America. This is because the police station is called a "precinct" and they call a shop a "grocery store". Also because the story is set in the twentieth century, the presence of the death penalty suggests that they are in America. ...read more.


or " there by dint of looking about me..." However in "lamb to the slaughter" Dahl again uses descriptive words but doesn't use senses, instead he uses a light and dark contrast. " When she walked across the room she couldn't feel her feet touching the floor..." The structure and form of the first story is simple! The dialogue is short and uses quick sentences which move the story on to keep the reader interested, where as in the second the dialogue is made up of reported speech and long sentences which are very descriptive but make the story a bit boring. The sense of tension and suspense in Roald Dahls story is built up, the story begins happily, a pregnant wife waiting for her husband, the story is kept alive when we see into her mind. In Dickens story the tension and suspense is just there, it is there from the beginning when the narrator suggests the presence of ghost before we hear the signalman's story. In conclusion, the tension and suspense in the two stories are built up in different ways resulting in a fascinated, scared and satisfied reader. Sarah Ryder 11th December 2001 " Compare and contrast the writers use of tension and suspense in the two short stories that you have studied." ...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. The Signalman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Napoleon and The Spectre. In this essay I ...

    They had no understanding or concept of what the woman was going through and merely put it to a 'slight hysterical tendency.' Despite the fact that the couple are on holiday John is very protective of his wife which acts as a deterrent to them developing their matrimonial relationship.

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

    A strong word such as 'abhorrence' or hatred, clearly shows how terrifying and frightening the place is - not a place you would want to venture into for very long, which explains why the signalman runs hurriedly out. The setting implies that possibly something horrific has happened, or will happen there.

  1. How does Dickens create suspense in

    One option could be for there to be no supernatural intervention and the signalman had a coincidental, over-active imagination or was just crazy. I do not believe this was Dickens's intended ending. Either character could be a possible candidate for a ghost yet I feel that neither was.

  2. What Method's do the writers use in order to create mood, atmosphere and character ...

    which if you think about pathetic fallacy it may seem that this is going to be a nice story. In The Monkey's Paw it only talks about the location at the beginning of the story.

  1. In this essay, the openings of the four short stories, "The Signalman" by Charles ...

    Whilst being very different to the opening of "The Signalman", "The Tell-Tale Heart's" opening is very effective. For example, the writer uses the phrase 'Object there was none. Passion there was none' as it involves repetition. The use of this adds emphasis to the writer's point that the killer didn't

  2. Examining how tension and suspense are created in two short stories - The Signalman ...

    This normal setting makes the reader consider the title, 'Lamb to the Slaughter', which suggests something bad making the reader anticipate something bad is going to happen. We can tell that there is a tranquil atmosphere by how Mary Maloney is described. "There was a slow smiling air about her...".

  1. ‘The women in Black‘ and The Signalman

    This level-headedness is also contributed by the fact Arthur Kipps is a solicitor. I feel that the Composure of Arthur Kipps is a significant tool used by the author. Through the story the reader obviously starts to notice that the equanimity of Arthur Kipps deteriorates leaving him almost to the

  2. Compare and contrast three 19th Century gothic short stories commenting upon the authors' use ...

    The beginning is filled with an air of mystery; the middle consists of tension mounting elements and the story concludes with a shocking twist. Dickens was able to achieve this more so than Bierce in 'An Arrest' as it is a lot longer.

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