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Compare the ways in which two writers have constructed a tale of the supernatural, and consider how effective they are as short stories. Choose two from The Monkey’s Paw, ‘The Signalman’, and ‘The Red Room’.

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Introduction

Essay task: Short stories, especially ghost stories, were popular in the Victorian period. Compare the ways in which two writers have constructed a tale of the supernatural, and consider how effective they are as short stories. Choose two from The Monkey's Paw, 'The Signalman', and 'The Red Room'. A Short Story is a condensed fictional narrative, usually in prose. It typically concerns a relatively small number of characters involved in a single action with one thematic focus. Short stories are aimed at exciting, in the reader, a single emotional response. The novel, by contrast, typically presents many characters more leisurely developed through several interconnecting story lines and conflicts and evokes a multiplicity of emotional reactions. There are many advantages and disadvantages in writing a short story. The main advantages are firstly that you get to the action quickly. This allows just the right amount of description. It focuses on two or three characters, so it can concentrate on their feelings in an intense way. The settings are focused on one setting or location in an intense or claustrophobic manner. In addition, the action is built up quickly. Such stories usually suggest rather than spell everything out, and often have a disturbing factor in them. ...read more.

Middle

The cutting itself is described in great detail. 'On either side, a dripping wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all but a strip of sky.' This, explicitly, gives the idea of a very desolate, depressing area. It is expressed by the 'hero' that, when he went down into the cutting, he '...had left the natural world': therefore entering a supernatural world. This little quote prepares us for the prose to come. The signal box is not described in great detail, however it tells us what it contains: a bell and a book where, on several occasions, he makes notes. However we get the idea that it is very simple and plain. Although Charles Dickens' setting is following that of most short stories, it is well planned and, I think, a very good idea. The characters in 'The Red Room' are very varied. For a start there are more than probably you would expect in a short story. At the start, we have three: An old man with a shrivelled arm; an aged woman who unnerves our 'hero'; and the 'hero' himself. The central character is apparently very brave and doesn't believe that the room is haunted, '...it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This contrasts with the Red Room because whereas in this story the twist comes at a predictable time and we could have guessed the ending, the 'hero' and his explanation of the haunted room are very unforeseen. In conclusion, both are very well written short stories, and first-rate ghost stories. Both have their similarities, and their differences. The result of this is two very different stories; nevertheless, you can link aspects between the two. However, I do have a preferred narrative. My choice of the two is 'The Red Room', written by H. G. Wells. I like this one more because I think it is more enthralling. I was able to get into the story more while I was reading this one, rather than 'The Signalman'. I felt that I could share the thoughts and experiences with the characters. I am keen on the plot line. I love the way the room is described: although no great deal of details has been given, enough has been described so we can picture the room in our mind's eye. Our imagination is left to fill in the blanks. I think that Wells has done a great job with this story, and I suspect that a significantly amount of thought has gone into it. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alex Maxwell 10 D 1 ...read more.

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