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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.

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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