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Compare The Signalman by Charles Dickens and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl. Consider how the writers' create suspense and the influences of the writers' backgrounds.

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Introduction

Nicola Evans English Coursework Compare The Signalman by Charles Dickens and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl. Consider how the writers' create suspense and the influences of the writers' backgrounds. During my essay I will be looking at two short stories from the 20th and 19th centuries. I will examine the similarities and differences of Lamb to the Slaughter and The Signalman in content style and language. I will also show how the writer's background influenced them to write these stories. In some ways these stories are fairly similar but in other ways they differ, firstly the openings of each of the stories have different atmospheres. In Lamb to the Slaughter the atmosphere tends to be calm and quite blissful. The evidence we have for this in the text is the type of words the writer uses for example, "The room was warm and clean" and "this was a blissful time of day." However contrasting to this the opening of The Signalman appears to have a spooky, ominous atmosphere again we can see this from the words used in the story. "Stood on top of the steep cutting," and "the glow of an angry sunset." These words give a strange feel about the place whereas in Lamb to the Slaughter the words give a relaxing, calm vibe. ...read more.

Middle

Some of the language used portrays him as a mysterious character "his post was in a solitary and dismal place..." Dickens keeps the reader wondering what this man has to conceal. Throughout the story spectres and supernatural feelings are often mentioned. The signal man questions the narrator about why he called out to him "what made you cry..." and the narrator tells him it was no doubt because he seen him, only the signalman then asks him "You had no feeling that they were conveyed to you in a supernatural way?" This is quite a bizarre question to ask somebody, which confirms that there must be something extraordinary about him. Also because he mentions the word "supernatural" it makes you think that something supernatural is going to happen sometime during the story so the reader is kept in anticipation. The ending of the story is quite sudden. We discover that the signalman is dead and that the train driver called out to him "Below there! Look out..." which were the exact words that were haunting him. This leaves the reader wondering the actual meaning of the story. The ending is ambiguous just like the beginning of the story. Both stories are written from different points of views. Lamb to the Slaughter is written in third person and The Signal Man is written in first person. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dahl writes for a different audience. Dahl is a modern writer who produced many scripts designed to be shown on TV and his written style is more economical than Dickens. He does not describe everything but allows the reader to fill in the missing bits. He would assume that his readers were familiar with a typical suburban home because they have access to TV and video as well as cinema and would have seen examples of typical homes dozens of times. It is this background to his story that helps to explain some of the differences between his and Dickens. Dahl wrote his story in a way he knew would appeal to his audience in 1979 just as Dickens did with his audience in 1866. After reading these two stories I can conclude by saying they have a lot of differences. The Signal Man is a psychological drama and is supernatural it also has quite a serious purpose. However Lamb to the Slaughter is not supernatural it is quite humorous "and in the other room Mary began to giggle." Although the stories did contain some things similar such as they both involved violent deaths and had a twist at the end of the story. Both authors also built up suspense right towards the end of the story keeping the reader intrigued throughout. ...read more.

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