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Compare the stories 'The Red Room' and 'The signalman'. Consider how effective they are as ghost stories paying attention to character, setting and atmosphere and the creation of tension.

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Compare the stories 'The Red Room' and 'The signalman'. Consider how effective they are as ghost stories paying attention to character, setting and atmosphere and the creation of tension. In this essay I am going to compare and contrast two victorian short ghost stories, 'The Red Room' by H.G Wells and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens. In the nineteenth century short story writing became popular. In particular the ghost genre was and still is a very popular and successful one. A typical short story would have limited settings, characters and the storyline would have to develop quickly. A typical ghost story would also need to include conventions like isolated setting, darkness, a non believer ( someone who does not believe in ghosts or whatever supernatural being) and tension which may be high or built up. 'The Red Room' begins with the narrator assuring the wierd old people who are refered to as 'the man with the withered arm', 'the old woman' and 'the second old man' and live in Lorraine Castle that it would take 'a very tangible ghost' to frighten him. Straight away he gives me the impression that he is the 'typical man' of his time as he makes this proclaimation which I have mentioned before. He also fulfils the convention of a non believer in a way. ...read more.


Also that someone had tried to signal him off the track by waving and shouting 'Halloa! Below there!'. This is, you may remember, ow the signalman had identified the ghost. These two stories are both written around the same times. The points of tension are at different points in the stories. 'The Red Room' has a big build up of tension in the middle whereas in my opinion 'The Signalman' has a quite balanced, but high, level of tension almost from begining to end. In 'The Red Room' the narrator is a nameless person who is your conventional non believer and is open about this. The fact that we do not know his name adds a sense of mystery to the story. As we read his thoughts we find that he is in fact nervous about visiting the red room. '... a sudden twinge of apprehension' This is one example of the narrator admiting his worried state of mind. He does not however admit this to the other characters until almost the end of the story where he tells the old people of Fear in the red room. '...there is no ghost in there at all; but worse, far worse-... Fear.' This is where he admits his fear and nervousness. The narrator describes the old people, who are also nameless, as unfriendly and speaks of them as though they are creepy. ...read more.


There is also a dark tunnel and red light. 'The Signalman' contrasts with 'The Red Room' in that there is an actual ghost in 'The Signalman' whereas in 'The Red Room' all that there is said to be is Fear. 'The Red Room' begins at a point of quite low tension. The tension then rises slowly rises as he meets the other characters and they warn him against going to the red room saying 'It is your own choosing' which is repeated. This gives the effect of more tension and makes the reader think that there is something to be nervous about. Then later on they say 'But if you go to the red room tonight- (this night of all nights)' This again build up the tension and makes it even more. All the time the characters do not say why they are warning him away from it. On the way to the red room Wells builds up the tension even more by the way he describes the passage. '... and my candle flared and made the shadows cower and quiver.' These are good ways to build up tension and setting the scene of one of the ghost genre because they are conventions of this particular genre. The next rise in tension is created by the candles going out in the red room. This part of the story creates the biggest rise in tension and takes the point of tension to a climax. This part is an example of unexplained happenings. ...read more.

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