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Consider atmosphere and setting in the 19th century stories you have read, and discuss how the authors have created fear and suspense

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Introduction

Consider atmosphere and setting in the 19th century stories you have read, and discuss how the authors have created fear and suspense In this essay I will discuss the ways in which suspense and fear are created in the nineteenth century stories, The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Signalman by Charles Dickens and how the setting and the atmosphere contribute in making these stories successful in the gothic literature. These two stories have very different ways in how they create tension and suspense and will be looked at in detail throughout this essay. I will also be looking at how the Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs demonstrates elements of the gothic and discuss how fear and tension are created. The stories are from the nineteenth century and in this Victorian era, there was a fascination with death and the macabre, 'good' deaths happened in the belief that people had made peace with God and had resigned themselves to their fate. Victorians created a huge business based on funerals, a grand funeral showed their wealth and respectability and people sometimes even made jewellery with the hair of dead loved ones. Doctors made huge advances in medical science; bodies of hanged criminals were used to learn from, however there was a limited supply. ...read more.

Middle

Also the reader does not know what sort of person the narrator really is. When the narrator is a character in the story, it makes it easier to know how the person is feeling; this makes the reader more aware of the character and so can begin to relate to them. The Signalman is more mysterious and gripping than the Body Snatcher as no information is given to the reader about the characters. Something strange happens at the beginning of The Signalman unlike in The Body Snatcher and the reader wants to know why, 'remarkable manner'. The signal man dives straight into the story without really building up the tension beforehand with the scene, unlike the body snatcher where the scene is set and the tension is gradually built up with the frightening atmosphere. The Body Snatcher is written in language of the early nineteenth century, it is often verbose with the use of words that are not used today such as crapulous, ensigns and indemnified. The language is poetic throughout the story with the use of metaphors, similes, euphemism and oxymorons, this helps to add mystery and suspense to the story as well as make it sound old fashioned and traditional. However, the story is very literal and the title is a good example of this. It is very atmospheric and detailed giving the reader a clear view of the situation and scene. ...read more.

Conclusion

The signalman when hearing the bells ring creates tension due to the narrator not hearing them, the reader believes that the signalman is imagining noises and this creates an unsettling and tense atmosphere. His character is very rational, it makes him more real but he goes pale at one point, "in a word I should...with a fallen colour." He may have done this, the reader assumes, due to a presence such as a ghost tormenting him, but it is not known and so the strangeness of his personality is shown further which again builds tension and makes the reader wonder. The end of The Signalman is very dramatic, the story ends with a twist but throughout there is a lot of foreshadowing leading up to an expected ending. The structure and the way Charles Dickens sets the order of events create suspense. When the signalman tells the narrator about the first two accidents, the reader is expecting a third one to happen in the near future as with all stories and this creates suspense. The Body Snatcher and The Signalman both, in my opinion, are good horror stories and although they build suspense and fear in various different ways, they still both make the reader anxious and tense. In my opinion, that is the key to a horror story. ...read more.

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