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Compare the two short stories "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens and "The Landlady" by Roald Dahl

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Introduction

Compare the two short stories "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens and "The Landlady" by Roald Dahl The Signalman is a short story from the author Charles Dickens and was written in the mid 19th Century; The Landlady is also a short story written by Roald Dahl. The Signalman is a ghost story and The Landlady is a mystery story; however, there are many similarities that the two stories show. At the start of The Signalman there are many things that seem strange. The signalman from the very opening is peculiar; his actions, such as how he looks at the narrator with "fixed attention" and how he doesn't even acknowledge him, is far from seemingly normal behaviour. The description of the train approaching the tunnel is also strange. The train is said to have "had the force to draw me down", implying a supernatural presence right from the start. The opening of The Landlady, however, is quite different. Everything at the start seems to be perfectly normal - that is except Billy Weaver who is already shown by Dahl to be very na�ve. One key thing in the opening is the appearance of Bath itself. Baths seems to be a place with no character, as when being informed about the houses we are told they are: "- all of them identical -", giving no individuality or character to the city. ...read more.

Middle

When the narrator sees him he seems a "dark sallow man", someone whose entire features are dark, with how the narrator describes him to have a "dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows" creates tension. However, despite theses strange qualities, he seems to be a very reliable person who is worthy of great credibility and is excellent at his job. His brightness is clear as he has "taught himself a language" but we are also told that he struggles with other things such as figures. The most important thing we see about his character is how dedicated he is to his job. He is definitely a credit to the company from what we see. The visitor, our narrator, is a very inquisitive person; this is clear by how he initially goes down to the signal box. He is also a very caring person, shown with how he thinks about the narrator and what is best for him. However, he is also very responsible with how he is worried about the signalman's state of mind for the safety and well being of others. He is rational and punctual but apart from this we know very little about him apart from it seems that he is not from around the area. ...read more.

Conclusion

The ending of The Signalman wasn't at all what I expected to happen because before that point nothing had happened to the signalman himself. The ending is very dramatic and the link between what the narrator says in the first line of the story to what the train driver was shouting is excellently thought out. However, I believe Dickens made a mistake with the final paragraph, as quite simply it just isn't needed. Dahl's ending to The Landlady is excellent for a mystery story as it is left completely open. We are left to guess at the end and make our own conclusions, as we have done throughout the story. Due to this, we also question ourselves as there is still no evidence to substantiate our claims of sinister happenings we see occurring. In conclusion I prefer The Signalman by Dickens as it has a better storyline and plot. His use of style, language, and dialogue are also excellent and add greatly to the story. The characters have been expertly created and elaborated upon through the events of the story. One of the biggest reasons I prefer Dickens' story to that by Dahl is because of the themes it looks at and how it makes us question ourselves and our own views and so many things, and not just those looked at in the story. 1 Stuart Woodhams ...read more.

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