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GCSE: The Signalman

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  1. How do the writers of 'The Red Room' and 'The Signalman' create fear and tension in the reader?

    In 'The Red Room' the setting is in a castle, which is very old. Throughout the castle there are passages that have features such as sconces, long corridors, spiral staircases etc. Perhaps the most distinguishing gothic feature of the story is its prominent use of the supernatural. In horror stories, the supernatural is portrayed through common entities such as ghost and monsters. The idea of including any reference to the supernatural is imperative in any horror story and in 'The Red Room', the reader is made to question the incidents of the candles being simultaneously blown out.

    • Word count: 3613
  2. Examine the ways in which Charles Dickens builds suspense in 'The Signalman'

    Particularly interesting in the opening, is the way that the paranormal is introduced, through the visitor's description of the train passing. He says that he feels an 'oncoming rush' and then says that this rush caused him to move backwards, 'as though it had force to bring me down.' Obviously it couldn't bring him down into the cutting below, but he must have felt some kind of power try to. The train is described as if it is something to be feared, possibly hinting the danger that the train later becomes.

    • Word count: 4892
  3. "The short story is the ideal form for writers who want to create a sense of horror and suspense." Discuss how horror and suspense are created in "The Moonlit Road" by Ambrose Pierce and "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens.

    And having a third sighting creates horror and suspense which is caused by the signalman asking "What does the spectre mean?" Finally on the third visit, it is easy to see how the third appearance is significant as the narrator finds the signalman has died because of a crash on the railway line. We read that the train driver was waving his arm and signaling to the signalman as if to say "For God's sake, clear the way!" The train driver does not actually say these words, but it is the signalman's interpretation of the train driver himself which creates horror.

    • Word count: 3199
  4. Which of the Two Horror Stories: "The Monkey's Paw" or "The Signalman" Do you prefer?

    For these reasons I generally prefer, "The Monkey's Paw" as a horror story rather than "The Signalman". I will now go on to compare some aspects of both stories and justify why I prefer "The Monkey's Paw". The opening setting of The Monkey's Paw is described in little detail and is typical of those found in many other similar types of horror stories. "The night was cold and wet"; this quote from the first line brings about the awful conditions we expect to see in a horror story. The fact that the story is set at night and additionally in bad weather conditions, grabs our attentions immediately.

    • Word count: 3164
  5. Prose English

    The narrator first describes the location as a deep trench, ''down in the deep trench''. This is because the narrator is on the top cutting of land, whereas the signalman is below him on the railway line. To get down to the railway line the narrator has to walk down a zigzag descent It also describes the angry sunset, which shone on the landscape above the railway. The railway line itself is dark and has hardly any light on it; it's between two cuttings of land that are high above so they create a shadow over it.

    • Word count: 3427

    Wells, a huge amount of suspense and tension is created. "The Red Room" fits into the gothic genre perfectly because it has the requirements of a gothic story for example the story is set in a castle, they also believe in the super naturals. "The Red Room" creates tension in many ways , tension is created through shadows, noises and by the way the characters appearances and act. "The Red Room" is told in first person, this makes the story extremely personal, it also adds even more tension and suspense to the story; because the story is written in first person the story allows the reader to feel as if he or she is there.

    • Word count: 4876
  7. Dickens ghosts. Malevolent or Benevolent

    When the chair said this, he was looking very fierce which made tom frightened. Immediately after this sentence, Tom responded "I didn't mean to treat you with any disrespect sir" and Tom said this in a "much humbler tone!" "I know everything about you Tom, everything!" said the 'Queer Chair'. This is portrayed in a malevolent way as it's intimidating, impolite and almost frightening. The chair also knew that Tom Smart was poor and "too fond of punch". Throughout the story, Tom is surprised by the behaviour of the old gentleman, when talking about the widow.

    • Word count: 3884
  8. "A short story should stimulate the imagination and hold its reader in suspense."Consider the statement in relation to stories from the ghost / mystery genre.

    Consequently, reading became a social pastime with short stories being a form of education and entertainment. Authors such as Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bront´┐Ż and Edgar Allan Poe promoted the short story format as a way of increasing their audience. Within such a tight structure, the authors must immediately stimulate imaginations and hold their readers in suspense. In the days before television or radio, reading aloud was a much more popular form of entertainment than it is today, and we know that short stories or instalments of serials were often read aloud within families or groups of friends.

    • Word count: 3412
  9. In this essay I am going to examine the techniques used by Charles Dickesn to create atmosphere and character in 'The Signalman' and extracts from Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.

    'The Signalman' is a short story by Charles Dickens. It was published in 1866 and the terrible train crash Dickens was involved in at Staplehurst, Kent, a year before had inspired him to come up with this story. The story is told in first person by the narrator and starts with his first encounter with a signalman working in a solitary and dismal place. They talk about the signalman's post and his present job, however, on leaving, the signalman admits that he is troubled and they agree to meet again the following night.

    • Word count: 3700
  10. Explain what makes a good mystery story, based on your understanding of 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells, 'The Speckled Band' by Arthur Conan Doyle and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens.

    This time period was one of confidence, as Britain became a major power in Europe and indeed the world. At this period in time gothic tales became a very popular genre of literature. These tales were mainly based upon middle class murders, as in 'The Speckled Band'. This story is set in a secluded mansion on a countryside estate in Western Surrey owned by a rich English family, reflecting the wealth of Victorian England. Another familiar aspect of gothic tales was the use of exotic or foreign influences such as the wild animals kept by Doctor Roylott. Another major aspect of these tales was a villain and a victim, which in this case were Dr Roylott and Miss Helen Stoner.

    • Word count: 8919
  11. 'Examine the settings which the writers have chosen for their stories in ''The Signalman'', ''The Man with the Twisted Lip'' and ''The Red Room.'' Consider the effects that each writer has created and how they contribute to the atmosphere.'

    At the end something finally does occur, the signalman dies and we learn that the words which haunted him were a warning for him to escape his demise, which is ironic. The story is ended with a twist as the signalman's vision becomes reality, leaving the reader satisfied but still inquisitive and further in suspense. I believe there is still a lot which could be uncovered in this story that is why I will deem it a semi-solution. The tale occurred in one consistent setting along with the suspense.

    • Word count: 4822
  12. Compare and contrast three 19th Century gothic short stories commenting upon the authors' use of gothic conventions of horror and the supernatural

    High tension is usually sustained throughout a short story, as apposed to novels, which also incorporate anti- climaxes. Short stories can often be didactic and seek to tell a moral truth. I am comparing and contrasting three 19th century gothic short stories. The Stories in which I have chosen to about are: 'An Arrest' by Ambrose Bierce, 'Napoleon and The Spectre', Charlotte Bronte and the 'Signalman' by Charles Dickens. 'An Arrest' by Ambrose Bierce is written in a 3rd person narrative and is a violent story incorporating a ghost and the supernatural. Mystery and suspense are carried out dramatically throughout the story.

    • Word count: 3161
  13. "The Signalman", "The Red Room" and "The Man with the Twisted Lip"

    Dickens' story "The Signalman" is the oldest of the three, 1866, whereas the other two are less aged and date back to 1891 for "The Man with the Twisted Lip" and 1894 for "The Red Room". Whilst all three authors are attempting to hold the reader in suspense, the places in which the various tales are set have proved to be very, very diverse. "The Signalman" written by Charles Dickens in 1865. Dickens wrote this thriller a year after he had been involved in a railway accident himself.

    • Word count: 3334
  14. The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs, "The Clubfooted Grocer" by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle, "The Red Room" by H. G. Wells and "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens

    It also helps the reader to create a vivid image of an old and frail paw which looks as if it can bring bad luck to the owner. This story is written in the third person which makes it objective and much more realistic. It is realistic because we can be sure that the events took place and were not just part of the imagination or thought of one character. It also allows for a more broad-based view of the on-goings as it does not follow one particular person throughout the story.

    • Word count: 4985
  15. Using a selection of short stories written before 1914, compare and contrast their authors' treatment of fate and/or the supernatural

    Although Rhoda can feel its presence, it is extremely strange that it should be sitting on her chest in the middle of the night, and it is undoubtedly a vision or a distortion of a dream. Harding even describes it as a "spectre." This is further confirmed by its sudden disappearance, "She looked on the floor whither she had whirled the spectre, but there was nothing to be seen." The whole story really revolves around the actions of the spectre or vision, and this is the definite supernatural element in the story.

    • Word count: 4308
  16. How do pre-1914 writers create a sense of suspense, mystery and fear?

    This shows that the man cannot believe that he is going to The Red Room. Other things such as the journey also turn out to be a good way of building atmosphere in the story. The way to the room is deliberately a long journey because if it was just up the corridor then there would be no suspense about the room and what can happen on the way to the room. The darkness of the journey also helps to create a ghostly atmosphere because it makes the littlest things look like the scariest things as in the dark things are not portrayed as what they really are.

    • Word count: 3054

    Gothic literature attempts to terrify the reader and it nearly always involves the supernatural. The colour red in the title is also associated with the gothic genre and is associated with fear and danger. The structures of the two stories are structured to create and sustain suspense. Both Dickens and Wells try to build up suspense in the beginning of the stories and to add to the tension the stories end with mystery and lead you to your own interpretation of what could have happened. The Signalman opens with the quote 'Halloa! Below there' this short, but effective line becomes very decisive as the story goes on.

    • Word count: 3615
  18. Compare the way H.G.Wells and Charles Dickens create tension in "The Red Room" and "The Signalman".

    When the narrator describes the first character as "the man with the withered arm". the second character that the reader is introduced to is an "old woman" who sits "staring into the fire" and she has her "pale eyes wide open". A second male then enters the room, he is "more bent" and also "more wrinkled" than "the first", his "lip is pale pink" and it "hung". all of these descriptions lead the reader to think that these old people cannot control themselves or their actions. The verb "hung" gives the reader an image of perhaps a dying flower or something rotting, the use of this verb makes the reader think that perhaps this piece of skin is dropping off or dying.

    • Word count: 3132
  19. "In his short story 'The Signalman' by what means does the author Charles Dickens attempt to create an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. To what extent do you believe he was successful?"

    Dickens always enjoyed reading and writing stories of the supernatural, although he was sceptical about the existence of ghosts, odd psychological states and paranormal experiences fascinated Dickens in his earlier years, and that made it a welcome challenge to write the story about the signalman, who has premonitions of a terrible accident, in which he himself is eventually killed. Dickens also wrote a number of other short stories in his time, these include H.S. Canby, The Short Story in English, and The Public Readings.cofb fbr sefbfbw orfb fbk infb fofb fb!

    • Word count: 3833
  20. Compare ""The Signalman"" by Charles Dickens and ""The Darkness Out There"" by Penelope Lively. Show

    Nowadays this can be difficult, as television has altered our outlook towards tension building in books. Writing needs to be original. On the television suspense can be built up by using music or visual surroundings, however in a book there are neither so we have to rely on the writers ability to create tension, suspense and atmosphere. The description of the railway cutting in "The Signalman" is very dark. "His past was in a solitary and dismal place as ever I saw. On either side a dripping wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky" The description goes on describing a very depressing place reminding the reader of hell.

    • Word count: 3209
  21. Compare the two short stories, 'The Signalman' by Dickens and 'The Withered Arm by Hardy.

    During the introduction to the story, there is also a brief description of the setting. This creates a sense of direction, as we know the atmosphere of the narrative. Hardy creates ambiguity by leaving unresolved questions in chapter one. Some of these questions are, who is farmer Lodge's wife, and why Rhoda Brooks is thin and fading when she is not very old. We as readers, want to find out the situation to why she is isolated from other employees and why there is no contact between Farmer Lodge and Rhoda and her son. The author of 'The Withered Arm' creates unresolved questions at the beginning of the plot because he wants to leave readers guessing future plots.

    • Word count: 3206
  22. 'The Red Room' - review

    This informs the other characters that he is certainly not afraid of the 'haunted room' and it is said in a way that mocks their own fear of the room. The narrator is classically confronted with a collection of uncanny characters who try, with no avail, to persuade the narrator that there are supernatural presences in the castle. In this story the collection of uncanny characters are a group of elderly, frail and unsociable people without names to enhance the mysterious aura around them.

    • Word count: 3450
  23. Both 'The Signalman' and 'The Darkness out There' have unexpected endings. Compare the way tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by how the story ends.

    He discovers that the signalman believes a spectre has been haunting him. He tries to bring rationality and reason to the situation but he ends up confused to what is going on after hearing the Signalman telling his account of his sightings of the spectre and the circumstances surrounding them. The Signalman tells the man of a crashed train, and a woman thrown off a train both occurring in or just outside the tunnel that his hut is outside of.

    • Word count: 3892
  24. Compare The Red Room, The Signalman and The Ostler.

    The technique was used by Dickens in his novels, and by sanitary reformers in their reports. Indeed, when Edwin Chadwick was writing his great reports on the condition of towns, he consulted the novelist on the best way of presenting his evidence. Dickens brother in law was a leading sanitary reformer, the author of a nauseating account of burial grounds, oozing with disgusting secretions. Before Dickens died on June 8th 1870, he read the report and dreamed of putrefaction - and the images recur in his novels, of blockages, decay, stickiness which makes the reader feel the texture of the city The Ostler was written by Wilkie Collins in 1855.

    • Word count: 3251
  25. How does Dickens create suspense in

    There are three main themes to the story; the modernism of trains, supernatural elements and the issues of class. "The Signalman" is a story set at the side of the railway, including the small cabin in which a simple signalman occupies. The narrator is an unknown character, is presumed to be of a higher class, perhaps a doctor, than the signalman as the signalman refers to him as "sir". The story begins in first person, using direct speech from the narrator: "Helloa below there!" This speech is proved to be important later on in the story. Dickens uses the direct speech; in the first person as this creates little awareness.

    • Word count: 3011

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Both The Signalman and The Darkness Out There have unexpected endings. Compare the way tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by how the stories end.

    "The writer cleverly build up tension by making you think tat the signalman is a ghost. Because this is what the narrator says and it is all the information we have so we must therefore also come to the same conclusion. It is only after the first few paragraphs that we are told about the environment "His post was in as solitary and dismal place as I ever saw" Because of this sentence we begin to know a little about the signalman, he is a lonely man by his surroundings. We then get a very detailed account of his surrounding using words like Dungeon to describe the cutting in which the signalman's box is. The writer adds tension by making the narrator wait until the next evening until he begins talk to the signalman again, also because of the fact that he asked to meet him during the evening instead of during the day. As the narrator meets the signalman more and more he begins to find out about what is troubling him. He is seeing ghosts. This now makes the story a horror. When the narrator comes to visit the signalman on the last time he finds out that he is dead. Even more strange the man saw his own death."

  • Compare ""The Signalman"" by Charles Dickens and ""The Darkness Out There"" by Penelope Lively. Show

    "Also I enjoyed the subtlety of the clues such as how danger was drawing closer to the signalman, and the use of a mystery traveller to help lead the story along. I think it was the more interesting out of the two and has a controversial ending unlike "The Darkness out There". This is because I found it very linear and I thought there was no real tension or surprise as today's morals and views all suggest what Mrs Rutter did was wrong, and everyone one would realise it. The two stories build up suspicion and tension in similar ways by having the audience asking questions, which is a very effective tool to build up tension. Also both stories have contrast, "The Signalman" shows it between the world above and the world below, and "The Darkness Out There" between light and dark. However they do differ in some areas, "The Darkness Out There" concentrates on psychology, and the idea that we judge and stereotype on appearances. "The Signalman" however has little moral to the story and is rather self-explanatory in the psychological sense. The difference between the attitudes of the stories could be explained, as through time people's p"

  • Compare and Contrast ways in which the supernatural is conveyed and used to maintain the reader's interest in 'The Signal Man' and 'The Red Room' - Refer to any other nineteenth century stories you have read.

    "In conclusion, the writers use many ways in which to create suspense in the stories, be they delaying the action, withholding vital pieces of information or even misleading the reader, these all create suspense in their own way. They are used very effectively in both of these short stories, and although the ending of 'The Red Room' is slightly disappointing, it only shows us just how much suspense has been created by Wells, as we are frustrated that this good story has such a disappointing ending. However both writers effectively create suspense in the two stories, compelling us to read the next page."

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