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Discuss how suspense is created in the short ghost story, 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens.

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Discuss how suspense is created in the short ghost story, 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens. In class we have studied the short story 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens, in the following essay I am going to write about how Dickens created a feeling of suspense in the ghost story. It was written for the Victorians who were just as fascinated about the paranormal as we are today. Just as well that the main theme running throughout the story is the paranormal and also trains. Trains were chosen because the nineteenth century was the great age of the railways; there was an aura a mystique and also a lot of glamour surrounding the train and the immense power it possessed as it hurled across the land like a bolt of lightning. The paranormal was put in because it is such a mysterious topic that people know so little about now and in the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century was a time when a large number of scientific breakthroughs were being made, helping people who knew very little to understand some of the things that go on around them. The story begins with the stranger (who is also the narrator of the story, we do not find out his name) ...read more.


Dickens manages to confuse people very easily; the way the stranger thinks that the Signalman is a spirit because he hasn't said a word to him, the narrator later thinks that the Signalman had an infection in his mind. 'The monstrous thought came into my mind as I perused the fixed eyes and the saturnine face, that this was a spirit not a man. I have later speculated since, whether they may have been infection in his mind.' The Signalman thinks that the stranger is a ghost, the way the Signalman for some unknown reason is scared of the stranger perhaps fearing that he is ghost. 'You look at me,' I said, forcing a smile, 'as if you had dread of me.' When the stranger calls the Signalman, the Signalman turns to face the warning light as if something were to happen, even though it is quite obvious from where the narrator is shouting. When the Signalman looked up he saw the strangers figure standing above him, when the stranger asked for a way down the Signalman pointed the way down without making a sound. The fact that the Signalman hasn't spoken gives an air of mystery. There seems to be some sort of tension between the two men, perhaps because of the lack of speech from the Signalman. ...read more.


In the opening the Signalman doesn't speak he seems to be very nervous and scared perhaps scared of the stranger or maybe something else. Little is known about the Signalman, but I feel that he has had troubled periods of time during his lifespan. He seems to be over-educated for his job yet he seems dedicated to his job. The stranger who tells the story is an unusual character we know very little about him and know very little about his past yet he is telling a story that could be quite significant to him. He seems to care for the Signalman as if they were good friends yet they had only recently met; he wants to help the signalman with his problems maybe because the stranger has failed trying to sort out his own problems. He seems to be a well educated man and perhaps upper or middle class but he seems to be a good king hearted man. After reading through the essay and studying it we can therefore see that Dickens created suspense in most parts of the story, the fact that no one could tell if either of the two men were ghosts or what was going to happen next. I enjoyed this story I don't usually read short stories but I may have to reconsider as I enjoyed 'The Signalman' very much. Daniel Stokes English Coursework 11a1 ...read more.

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