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Compare 'The Red Room' by H.G.Wells and 'The Darkness Under the Stairs' by Lance Salway, Examining how the Writers Create Suspense in the Stories.

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Introduction

Compare 'The Red Room' by H.G.Wells and 'The Darkness Under the Stairs' by Lance Salway, Examining how the Writers Create Suspense in the Stories By Ed Douglas In these two classic gothic ghost stories, suspense is created and maintained in many ways. Although the time period of the stories is different, the ways in which suspense is created are closely linked. These ways include the setting, the structure, the language, the portrayal of characters (and their dialogue) and in the way it is written, for example, first person ('The Red Room'), and third person ('The Darkness Under The Stairs'). In my opinion, 'The Red Room' being written in first person makes the story more believable. This can be seen in the quote, 'It will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me'. Although this quote does not create suspense, it can be interpreted as the characters fearlessness, which, in turn, emphasizes the shock in the quote, 'lifting up my voice, screamed with all my might', as the drastic change in feelings shows the immense fear in the character as the 'screamed with all my might' shows us. The quote 'it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me' can also be interpreted as the main character's fear, as I feel he might be almost kidding himself, to the extent of believing the complete impossibility of the supernatural. ...read more.

Middle

This repetition could also be repeated to get the reader almost used to the fear, so the build up to the finale is very big. H.G.Wells also uses the tension and panic to build up to the finale of his story. He does this by manipulating the light changes in 'The Red Room', as the quote 'the flames [that lit the room] dwindled and vanished' shows. This quote creates suspense as it creates the image of complete darkness (which is a common fear in man) as the word 'vanished' suggests, the immediate change in light, which almost makes the reader jump. The language in both of these classic, gothic ghost stories relate greatly to the time period of which they were written. The example for this in 'The Red Room' is the quote I shall be so much the wiser , for I come to the business with an open mind'. This quote shows the old English style sentence structure as 'I shall be so much the wiser' shows (the translation into modern day sentence structure is probably 'I will be much wiser'). You can also tell of the period in which L.Salway's story was written, as it is generally more informal (which is more modern as people tend to be more informal) ...read more.

Conclusion

to create the effect of secludedness and loneliness because it gives the impression that 'the red room' is far away from everybody (maybe even out of earshot, which would lead to the common fear of no-one being able to hear your screams), L.Salway creates the impression of the derelict house to create suspense, as the quote 'drafty as a tomb' shows. This quote creates suspense as it portrays the house as drafty (the coldness being a big part in most ghost stories, for example 'The Sixth Sense') and the tomb referring to death, of dead bodies and maybe even of ghosts. The word 'tomb' also portrays the house as empty, as when we think of a tomb we think of nothing apart from a single dead person, which makes us feel we are alone with this dead thing (no way out). In conclusion, both authors create and maintain suspense and tension in many different ways, including the setting, the language and the structure of both stories. I think that the suspense in H.G.Wells' story isn't as well maintained as in Salways', but in my opinion this is better as it creates more suspense when the time comes, whereas in Salways' story the suspense is always there and you might even get used to it. By Ed. Douglas ...read more.

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