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Compare the two stories 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl.

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Compare the two stories 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'Lamb to the Slaughter' by Roald Dahl In this piece of coursework I will be comparing two short stories, 'The Signalman' and 'Lamb to the Slaughter'. I will be comparing; openings, theme, characters, style, plot, and the endings from both stories and looking at differences and similarities. The Signalman was based on a past experience of Dickens about visiting his girlfriend. The Signalman is set on a Railway station and the Signalman is constantly seeing a ghost who tells him there is danger. Every time he sees the ghost an accident occurs on the line. The signalman thinks that he is going mad and tries to turn on the warning light in the tunnel and then gets mowed down by a train. Lamb to the slaughter is set in a family home. The husband (Patrick) comes homes from work and tells his wife (Mary) a secret; she is very upset and kills Patrick with a hefty blow to the back of the head with a frozen leg of lamb. When the police come, she offers them to eat the lamb to hide the evidence. ...read more.


Mary and her husband seem to have a good life together and their life seems to be on a routine. "When the clock said ten minutes to five, she began to listen, and a few minutes later, punctually as always, she heard the tyres on the gravel outside." The way they are described is as if the same thing happens each week and every day at the same time. I think Roald Dahl does this to make it seem out of the ordinary when Patrick Maloney did not want to go out to supper on a Thursday. This would make us think something is about to happen what does not usually happen, Roald Dahl is very clever by the way he doesn't tell us what Mr Maloney told Mrs Maloney this adds a little suspense to the story by making the readers wonder what Patrick could have done so bad that would make her want to kill her husband, Mary tries to carry on as normal after finding out the news. I don't think Mary would have thought about getting an alibi if it wasn't for the unborn baby she was carrying. Mary done the murder though anger and being hurt by someone she truly loved, and still loved "When she saw him lying there ...read more.


The signalman's appearance is quite peculiar as is his behaviour. He looks at the bell when it does not ring and talks of a ghost. His eyebrows are thick and his skin tone is odd. Painting a picture of a mysterious looking man. We too feel, the desperation and distraction of his ordeal. He 'wiped the drops from his forehead' showing his nerves, and so making us feel nervous. When we hear the signalman's' story, it is one with such a horrific plot that we become drawn in. When the author continuously interrupts it, we become more anxious and become desperate to hear the rest of the story. Dickens' use of painful personification, like 'angry sunset' and 'violent pulsation' contributes greatly to the stories impact. Short sentences and repetition also make us feel tense. There is such a conflict in personalities between the author, calm and collected, and the agitated and stressed signalman. We end up having to choose sides between the author believing the signalman is crazy and the signalman behaving crazy. The irony leaves us shaken. The one time the signalman chooses to ignore the voice was the one time he should have. The calm scientific reasoning of the author was wrong whilst the hysterical ramblings of the signalman were surprisingly correct. The unexplained ending leaves us in a very tense and unsettled state. Our many questions are left unanswered. ...read more.

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