• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the way Bronte and Dickens create mystery in their short stories 'Napoleon & The Spectre' and 'The Signalman'.

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the way Bronte and Dickens create mystery in their short stories 'Napoleon & The Spectre' and 'The Signalman' The two stories that I have been studying are 'Napoleon and the Spectre' and the 'Signalman' written by Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens respectively. Both the stories are set in the nineteenth century, a period of time when the country was experiencing rapid change. Bronte's story 'Napoleon and the Spectre' is a story about the Emperor of France who at that time was a leading figure in society, a symbol and trademark of France's important position in the world. Napoleon was a gallant and valiant soldier and he supposedly murdered General Pichegru. In the story Napoleon comes in to contact with a strange supernatural creature who entices him and takes him on a deeply strange tour of the streets of Paris. Napoleon allows himself to be taken on this tour partly due to his courageousness and the fact that the ghost exerts a power over him, encouraging him on with enticing remarks such as, 'Follow me Napoleon and though shall seek more.' With Bronte's story being on one side of the spectrum Dickens is on the other as it tells a completely different type of story. It is once again set in roughly the same period of time when the civilized world was in the middle of a period of great change as the country was gripped in the Industrial Revolution. ...read more.


"'Was it?' whispered a hollow voice, in deep mysterious tones, close to his ear. 'Was it a delusion, Emperor of France................. Follow me Napoleon and thou shalt see more.'" The ghost is described in a dark and eerie manner, he is never totally visible to Napoleon but always partly obscured from Napoleon's sight, 'A black opaque shadow obscured it.' This keeps the reader in suspense as they wait with trepidation to find out what or indeed who the 'creature' is. Napoleon is also portrayed in a somewhat mysterious way, with his many brave and valiant actions to begin with he gets progressively more cowardly. He showed an apparent disregard for his own welfare as he moved through the centre of Paris, overlooking many of the possible negative outcomes if he were to be spotted by anyone, who looking at him from the outside in would think he had gone mad, 'Nap found himself in one of the principal streets of Paris.' He moved through Paris in his dressing gown, uttering words to his ghostly companion, a person looking at him would just see someone talking to himself, and justifiably come up with the conclusion that the person had gone mad or was insane. Napoleon seems to be compelled to continue on his tour of Paris even though he would rather return to get dressed, "'Worthy Spirit,' said he, shivering in the chill night air, 'permit me to return and put on some additional clothing. ...read more.


Both stories offer information about the time in which they were written. Bronte's story reveals the attitudes of people towards the great French leader and Dickens reveals the attitude of the people towards the Industrial Revolution and the speed of which the world was changing in that period. In my opinion I believe that while Dickens' story is interesting and compelling to read it doesn't have what all short stories should have; that it fails in my opinion, to get the reader involved or particularly interested in what the eventual outcome of the story will be. I feel it doesn't meet the necessary criteria to be a good short story, it is not entertaining nor exciting, but more a social/historical commentary of that time. Dickens saw it as his role to write about the plight of the poor and under privileged and wanted to encourage people to think about social inequalities. Where 'Signalman' has its short comings, Bronte's 'Napoleon and the Spectre' meets the criteria perfectly, it is short, has the necessary excitement and action to have an impact on the reader, which is what the aim of a short story should be. Bronte sensationalises a public figure and portrays him as a 'bad' man, consequently it could be said that this story also carries a moral in that we should be accountable for our actions no matter what our position in life may be. Alex Lov�n 30/04/20074:42 PM 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Signalman section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Signalman essays

  1. Discuss the effectiveness of the ghost stories by Dickens, Hughes and Rhys. Show some ...

    So, as you can imagine, it give the place a very spooky feel and makes you think of on thing, hell. The mouth of the tunnel seems to be prominent as being the darkest place and this is amplified by Dickens and so makes reader think of it as the entrance to hell (comes into play later on).

  2. Describe the ways Dickens creates mystery and suspense in 'The Signalman'.

    and hell that the narrative appears to exude. Dickens constructs the idea that the narrator is descending into a grave, or even hell~ "as if I had left the natural world", also producing a sense of the supernatural once more.

  1. "In his short story 'The Signalman' by what means does the author Charles Dickens ...

    Dickens emphasises this by metaphorically stating it as a 'Great dungeon.' I feel that the beginning works very well, this is due to the to the opening statement which leaves the reader pressurised to read the whole story and find out what it means.

  2. The Signalman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Napoleon and The Spectre. In this essay I ...

    it does not go into great depth even though the railways were very new and popular. We are also not told many things about the spectre, apart from the fact that his face is covered and he is calling 'Halloa, below there.'

  1. Compare the two short stories, 'The Signalman' by Dickens and 'The Withered Arm by ...

    Both Rhoda and Gertrude's appearances mirror their personalities. Rhoda is a "thin fading woman" with pale cheeks and dark eyes. The description shows how sad and unsociable she is. Her "well defined features" suggest that although she is weak, she is determined to fight for her survival. Similarly, Gertrude's beauty shows a sign of innocence and a caring personality.

  2. Explore how effectively the writers create a sense of mystery using a selection of ...

    This is especially true with the idea of imagery. The idea of red is one of the most important themes in all three stories. Red is the colour of blood, and from that, death. In The Red Room the title suggests that something bloody and death-like happens in that room, simply because the room is red.

  1. How did Charles Dickens create an atmosphere of tension and mystery in the short ...

    Early on in the story, the signalman makes a point for the narrator to go down in order to meet him. He had to go down a cutting to reach the signalman. This cutting was extremely deep, unusually precipitous, made of clammy stone that became oozier and wetter as he went down the cutting.

  2. Compare two short stories written before 1900. Explore how the writer’s have crafted their ...

    Wells explains more about them collectively than he does individually: " they seemed to belong to another age, an older age...an age when omens and ghosts beyond denying. Their very existence was spectral". This increases tension by adding mystery, and commenting that they were very "spectral" may point to the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work