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Compare two short stories written before 1900. Explore how the writer’s have crafted their own stories, in terms of structure and language in order to produce a growing sense of tension and intrigue.

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Compare two short stories written before 1900. Explore how the writer's have crafted their own stories, in terms of structure and language in order to produce a growing sense of tension and intrigue. For my essay I am going to compare 'The Signal-Man' by Charles Dickens (1866) and 'The Red Room' by H.G Wells (1896). I am going to look at how the writers have crafted their language and structure to produce a growing sense of tension and intrigue. Herbert George Wells was born on September 21st 1866, in Bromley, Kent. He was educated at the Normal School of Science in London. He worked as a draper's apprentice, bookkeeper, tutor, and journalist then in 1885 he became a full-time writer. H.G Wells is best known for his science fiction novels, which often depict the triumphs of technology and also the horrors of 20th century warfare. He also wrote closely about his own experiences and ordeals. Wells died at the age of 80 years, on August 13th, 1946, in London. Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7th, 1812, in Portsmouth, but spent most of his life in London and Kent. He started school at the age of nine, but soon was removed to support his family when his father was imprisoned for debt. Dickens was humiliated by this, and in one of his novels almost completely re-told the story in 'David Copperfield' (1849-1850). He later returned to school, but he was mostly self-educated. He had worked in a shoe-polishing factory as a boy; later on he worked as a legal clerk, a reporter at Parliament and then for his uncle's publication 'The Mirror of Parliament'. He also worked for another publication called 'The Morning Chronicle'. Through this he managed to get his works published. He became hugely popular. Dickens died on June 9th, 1870 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. These two writers have a substantial time gap in writing terms. ...read more.


A famous quote made by an American president fits very well into the experience of the narrator, "there is nothing to fear, except fear itself". The room held nothing but shadows; it was fear that made the man run after the diminishing light. "The Signal-Man" has one narrator and another main character, there are also three men introduced towards the end. When the signalman is first addressed, he seems to ignore it and "turned himself about and looked down the line" instead of looking at the rambler above him. The signalman is "a dark sallow man, with a dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows" there is a use of repetition here to get the point of the man's 'darkness' across. The first conversation the signalman and the rambler hold, is stiff and uncertain. At one point when the rambler turns he "detected in his eyes some latent fear of me" when questioned upon this the signalman asks whether or not the rambler has ever been to the red light. He answers no and then the signalman's manner clears. The signalman has "enough responsibility to bear; but exactness and watchfulness were required of him" he cares deeply about his work and it weighs heavily upon him. The rambler also learns that the signalman is "remarkably exact and vigilant" and is the most appropriate man for the position. Every time the electric bell rang he would break of the conversation and would not speak until all the work had been done. The signalman broke off speaking twice "turned his face towards the little bell when it did not ring" he would then look towards the red light. When he returned, he had an "inexplicable air upon him", so whatever he had seen had either frightened him or made him worried about something. The signalman also speaks of something troubling him, but would not disclose it until their next meeting. This may have been so that the signalman could find the right way to tell the rambler. ...read more.


This story was written in 1866, the writing is very cynical maybe the rambler thoughts were the writer's own. This was a time when people were starting not to believe ghosts and the supernatural. The verbs and adjectives used are also an indicator to what time the story was written, "as I perused the fixed eyes and saturnine face", "perused" and "saturnine" would not appear often in modern popular writing, but would have been common language among the literary elite. Who would have been the main readers in Dickens's day. To build tension, Dickens gets the reader to question many issues in the story. Why did the signalman look towards the tunnel, when it was clear the voice was coming from above? Why does the narrator think the signalman has an infected mind? Why was the signalman hesitant to show the way down to the cutting? All these questions remained unanswered until the middle of the story; this leaves the questions brewing in the reader's mind, making them think of other possible reasons. They also help to engage and intrigue the reader. Both writers use tension in their writing, but they achieve this in very different ways. Dickens hardly uses any figurative language, his writing uses verbal and adjectival imagery to build tension. In result his writing is more direct, the tension more exact and immediate. Wells uses a totally different approach; he makes use of figurative language and creates brilliant images with his personification and similes. I believe that "The Red Room" is the better story in terms of structure and language in order to produce a growing sense of tension and intrigue. Wells crafts his language much more creatively and in certain instances quite a lot better than Dickens has, in order to produce a growing sense of tension. I may have come to this conclusion because Wells is the modernist writer and I am more used to his style of writing. By Cheryl Gogin ...read more.

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