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Discuss the effectiveness of the ghost stories by Dickens, Hughes and Rhys. Show some awareness of social, historical and cultural influences on the stories; be sure to include some comparisons of texts.

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Introduction

Coursework Assignment - Wider Reading Discuss the effectiveness of the ghost stories by Dickens, Hughes and Rhys. Show some awareness of social, historical and cultural influences on the stories; be sure to include some comparisons of texts. We have three different ghost stories to compare in this assignment. They are: 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens, 'The Ghost' by Richard Hughes and 'I Used to Live Here Once' by Jean Rhys. The three stories, although all ghost stories, differ by a great deal. The Dickens story is the longest, about thirteen sides, and the Rhys story is the shortest, just the one side, with the Hughes story in between at around four and a half sides. In this essay I am going to talk about the effectiveness of each one individually and then compare the stories against each other. At the end I will say which story I liked the best and why. I will start by talking about the Dickens story. The Dickens story is like the classic ghost story with all the dark, Gothic descriptions and the close comparisons with hell. It is there to give you a good scare; that is its purpose. He is attempting to entertain. However, there is some moral significance to the story (see later). The descriptions are extremely detailed and vivid and although a short story, it does not lack punch and immerses the reader into the story making them feel like they are actually there. Dickens uses long Latinate lexis and you can clearly see that this has been written for a mature and highly educated audience. The first phrase of the story means so much. 'Halloa! Below there!' is said by the narrator in the first line of the story. Although when reading the story for the first time it seems like an innocent greeting once you have finished the story you realise how much meaning those words hold. ...read more.

Middle

It definitely happens, I myself have experienced it, but why? The second story is called 'The Ghost' and it is by Richard Hughes. It is a ghost story with a twist. You could say it is a story about intense love and the complexity of the mind (see later). The language used is easy to understand and generally the sentences are kept relatively short. This gives a story a fast pace. Hughes also uses italic style font when he wants to emphasise a word. Parenthesis of words is used frequently in this story for emphasis. An example of these is 'He never was:' Where the colon blocks off the phrase and the italics emphasise the he. This story has a very dramatic start - 'He killed me quite easily...' The start gets you straight into the action and get you thinking about death and the ghost straight. 'Crashing' - loud, onomatopoeic word. Then we have the word bang in italics and with an exclamation mark. This is supposed to add to the crashing but I feel it is not needed and instead of adding to it reduces its effect and kills the suspense. The word bang is repeated to represent her head being crashed to the ground. '...Everything went out.' We now believe her to be dead. This is a good trick since as the story goes on you find out that she is not. However, at this point in time, the reader is convinced of her death. Especially, when 'my sleek young soul' is added to it. The word soul indicates her death and the supernatural and the ghost begins to enter the story. The murdered girl decides that she will haunt the man. We hear her thoughts about ghosts and how she wants to haunt the man that killed her. Hughes uses some eerie words to try and build up some suspense, words like 'spirit' and 'fear.' ...read more.

Conclusion

The Dickens story uses the long Latinate words where as the Rhys story tends use more simple lexis that is easier to understand and follow. The Rhys story is in third person and so the thoughts and feelings are conveyed via the author's descriptions. The Dickens story however is in the first person and so we hear all relevant feelings through the narrators thought. This gives the story a much more personal touch and so makes you feel more involved as appose to just looking on. Lastly, we can compare the Rhys story and the Hughes story. Again there is a difference I length with the Rhys story at only one side in length. There is great difference in the purpose and atmosphere of the stories. This was highlighted above. Although the Rhys story is short and so has less in total amounts of description I feel it is better described than the Hughes story. With the Hughes story a lot is left to guess work and reader interpretation. The language used in very similar, both stories use simple, easy to understand lexis. Feelings are portrayed differently because of the difference in perspective. It is the same difference as mentioned above. The Hughes story uses italics and parenthesis to emphasise words where as Rhys relies syntax and short sentences to make her point. She also uses the dialogue to make the point that she needs to. Overall, I preferred the Dickens story this was simply because I felt it was the best yarn out of the three. I think that most boys of around 16 will like it. It is the kind of thrilling story that pubescent boys of that age adore. Although at times difficult to understand with perseverance it proves to be a very good story. The other two stories both invoke feeling and make you think but the Dickens story, for me at least, just had the edge of the other two with its in depth descriptions and complete immersion into the culture of that time. That is why it appealed to me the most. ...read more.

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