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Comparing short stories

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Comparing short stories In this essay I will be comparing two short stories, 'The Red Room' by H G Wells and 'The Whole Towns Sleeping' by Ray Bradbury. I will examine how the authors created fear, suspense and atmosphere in the stories. I will look at the similarities and differences. 'The Red Room' is a gothic horror and 'The Whole Towns Sleeping' is a fear story. Both these stories have fear and suspense in common. The main difference is the period that they were set and written. 'The Red Room' was written in 1896 and 'The Whole Towns Sleeping' was written quite recently in 1950. Perhaps this is a reason why they have different horror genres. 'The Red Room' was written in the Victorian time. Its genre is a gothic mystery which predominated English literature at the time. This created fear suspense and atmosphere. 'The Whole Towns Sleeping' is quite recently written and is an American story. We know this because of the currency, 'a nickel' and also 'Baseballs and bats lie on the seamed sidewalk.' (Pg 42) This is a typical American sport. It concerns some of the issues of today's world and the worries of murder and dangerous people in today's society which creates fear and atmosphere for an audience of the present. ...read more.


In the opening scene of 'The Red Room' the narrator is pessimistic, '"I can assure you," said I, "that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me."'(Pg3) And when Francine asks if it is a better idea to stay home, Lavinia replies, '"it's early. The Lonely One won't be out till late."' (Pg 39) Another theme which flows through the stories is that we are more scared of what we can't see. This is shown when the narrator sees all of the candles going out until there is no light. 'The flame vanished as if it had been suddenly nipped between a finger and thumb, leaving the wick neither glowing nor smoking, but black.' (Pg 11) He feels agitated and nervous. 'My hands trembled so much that twice I missed the rough paper of the matchbox.' (Pg 11) He is aware of a force that is present in the room and when the tension gets too much for him he gives in with a loud horrific scream. 'and lifting my voice, screamed with all my might - once, twice, thrice.' (Pg13) This makes us experience fear too. In 'The Whole Towns Sleeping' fear and atmosphere is created mainly at the end when Lavinia is going through the ravine. ...read more.


In both stories the authors make use of shadows because they seem to follow you and this adds to fear. It is frantic when the lights go out in 'The Red Room' and also when Lavinia makes her journey home across the ravine in 'The Whole Towns Sleeping'. Echoes also add to atmosphere. It may feel as though there is an extra person there with you but they ate invisible and you cannot see them. The language and style suggest atmosphere. The atmosphere is suggested by structure and action by the author's choice of vocabulary. This helps the imagery and in turn helps to create suspense and atmosphere. The vocabulary used when describing the characters creates imagery. In 'The Red Room' they are described as having a 'withered arm' and 'pale eyes'. This is also the same in 'The Whole Towns Sleeping'. The way that Lavinia is described in the opening scene. The vocabulary sets up the atmosphere and suspense. The description of the house in 'The Red Room' also adds to fear and atmosphere. There is a 'queer old mirror' and the 'door creaked'. In 'The Whole Towns Sleeping' the streets are 'oven-baked' and is 'like walking on a hard crust of freshly warmed bream' There are warnings 'This night of all nights' and the repetition of some of the sentences helps with the fear and suspense. ...read more.

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