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Comparing The Red Room, H.G.Wells, The Signalman, Charles Dickens, He Ostler, Wilkie Collins.

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Introduction

Compare a selection of 19th century mystery stories commenting on: * The Setting * The Characters * The Plot * The Ending A gothic story is a type of romantic fiction that existed in English Literature in the last third of the 18th century and the first two decades of the 19th century, the setting for which was usually a ruined gothic castle of Abbey. The gothic novel or gothic romance emphasised mystery and horror and was filled with ghost haunting rooms, underground passages, and secret stairways. I'll be looking at 3 short stories and the authors: The Red Room, H.G.Wells, 1896 The Signalman, Charles Dickens, 1866 He Ostler, Wilkie Collins, 1855 The Signalman is set at a station beside a tunnel. It is written in first person, so the narrator is talking to the reader. The Signalman stays in a "manmade cutting which was extremely deep, and unusually precipitous." "It was made through a clammy stone that became oozier and wetter as I went down." Already the reader gets a very repellent, dank, wet, thermal and tactile image creating unpleasant impressions. "A rough zigzag descending path." So it's dangerous. Steep descent, leaving natural world far above. "It was the most solitary and dismal a place I ever saw." Charles has also described this cutting as a "great dungeon." It is massive; make you feel trapped or restricted, cold, dark, unwelcoming, claustrophobic. The Red Room is set in Lorraine Castle, which relates back to a typical gothic story. It is written in first person, so the narrator is talking to the reader. The main setting is in the Red Room where the narrator stays over night. H.G.Wells describes the room as "a large sombre room with its shadowy window bys, its recesses and alcoves." The room is old, shadowy- not being able to see clearly. H.G.Wells describes the atmosphere in the room "The moonlight picked out everything in vivid black shadow or silvery illumination." ...read more.

Middle

The Signalman tells of a man who likes to visit a lonely railroad man who operates a station beside a tunnel. The Signalman jumps at the narrators first words, called down to him, "Halloa! Below there!" Later, the narrator gains the Signalman's confidence and finds out why the signalman is so nervous. He has seen a spectre beside the tunnel, his face obscured and his arms motioning him to step aside. This ghost has foretold a terrible accident on the track as well as a single lady's death. The Signalman feared and waited in haunted silence for its 3rd premonition. The narrator promises to return to him but when he does the Signalman is dead, killed by a train, the driver calling out "Halloa! Below there!" and waving his arms. Dickens uses direct speech, in first person and this makes the reader feel more involved. Dickens creates suspense by using descriptive writing and using adjectives like H.G.Wells, the suspense begins right at the beginning when the narrator calls to the Signalman, and the Signalman doesn't react in the way that most people would, when they have been called to, normally people would look at the person who called to you and respond but the Signalman ignores him, until the narrator has called again. It says "One would of thought, considering the nature of the ground that he could not have doubted from what quarter the voice came from; but instead of looking up to where I stood on the top of the steep cutting nearly over his head; he turned himself about and looked down he line." Dickens uses words such as 'dreary', 'dark', 'secluded', 'cold', 'deserted', 'dangerous', and 'lonesome'. These words are used to describe the whereabouts of the story in order for you as the reader to think and try to imagine that you are there and are seeing the place first hand. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens weaved details gained from first-hand observations of social conditions into his novels. Dickens was no stranger to the poverty in London and other great cities in the first half of the 19th century. He was unafraid to question Victorian lifestyles. The technique was used by Dickens in his novels, and by sanitary reformers in their reports. The Ostler was written by Wilkie Collins in 1855. Wilkie Collins was born in London on January 8th 1824. By 1848, Wilkie had turned to writing, a number of short works appearing in Charles Dickens' periodicals. His first novel Iolina involving sorcery and sacrifice was rejected by publishers it was written as early as 1844 but was only discovered in 1999 were it was published for the first time. Unafraid to question Victorian social morals, Collins never married but maintained two families. One of the biggest similarities between the authors is that none of them agreed with Victorian lifestyle. Which was probably one of the biggest influences in there writing. They wrote these sort of stories to let there views and opinions known. The way how I responded and the way how people back in the Victorian age would have responded would be completely different because nowadays people don't find ghost, mystery and crime stories strange, but during the Victorian age people wouldn't talk about these things because they were deemed wrong and against Christian teachings. The Victorians would have had a mixed reaction to these kinds of stories because they were so abnormal, they would have either said that it wrong and acted as if they were shocked by it, or they would be interested to know what happens because you wouldn't hear about these things on the street or in a conversation. The story that I liked the most was The Red Room because you get completely lost in it and whatever you thought would happen it would go in the other direction. I also thought that the ending was better than the other stories. The Red Room made me want to read on because I wanted to find out what happened. ...read more.

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