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GCSE: The Signalman

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  1. Compare and contrast the two stories "The Signalman" and "The Red Room" explaining which one you enjoyed the most and why.

    In "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens, the story starts out with the line "Halloa! Below there!" This is a spooky introduction and is using pre 1914 style language. The reader does understand the significance at the time but as we read on we find out that this is the phrase that the spectre uses to warn of a disaster on the railway tracks. There is also the use of alliteration as this phrase is used a number of times to reinforce its importance. After this brief dialogue Dickens goes on to describe the railway track were the story is set. The track is described as being " a crooked prolongation of this great dungeon."

    • Word count: 1524
  2. How do Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and The Red Room?

    He is warned not to enter but does and faces the consequences. The pensioners and the narrator are the main characters in this novel. Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere on the very first page in "The Red Room" narrator who I feel is overconfident in what he says "Eight and Twenty years I have lived....." who believes that only his experience of to be taken account of nothing else. As well as this he ignores warnings form the old people.

    • Word count: 1254
  3. Using two or three stories, demonstrate how the writers produce a supernatural feeling in their tales?

    In the quote the opposites like "cold and wet" and "burned brightly" give out an eerie feeling to the leader. W.W.Jacobs uses a device called pathetic fallacy to create a spine-chilling atmosphere in the story. The author has already set the scene for the reader in the first sentence, but the following quote also creates supernatural feeling in the story; "Of all the beastly-slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst... I suppose because only two houses in the road are let..."

    • Word count: 662
  4. Compare and Contrast the two following short stories: 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The Red Room' by H.G Wells. How does the writer create an eerie atmosphere and a sense of fear and mystery in the stories?

    'The Signalman' was written in 1865, this is twenty-nine years earlier than the 'Red Room'. This story was written around the Victorian period, also similar to the 'Red Room' period. Everything in the 'Signalman' is not as it seems, the setting is peculiar "so little sunlight ever found its way to this spot" Although it is a scary, mysterious story, there are steam trains which in 1865 were extremely new technology and hi-tech. People were still a little suspicious and superstitious about trains.

    • Word count: 1985
  5. 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
  6. The curse of the full moon I looked out of the window. It glistened in the luminous and mysterious full moon. It was dark, miserable

    I ventured to the library in search of information on what this supernatural creature might be. I found photos of the town before 1850; I have also found a book on supernatural creatures, so I rented the book and returned home. By the time I had got home, it was 5 o'clock and I just wanted to sit down and read. I found little information on the creature but I did find something astonishing, that a 'were' creature is created by the full moon.

    • Word count: 988
  7. Consider atmosphere and setting in the 19th century stories you have read, and discuss how the authors have created fear and suspense

    'Resurrectionists' made money by digging up fresh corpses and selling them to medical schools. Rapid urbanisation occurred and so the number of deaths rose and churchyards became overcrowded, private walled cemeteries became popular. The Anatomy Act was passed in 1832, before this act only the bodies of hanged criminals could be used by the medical schools. However, this did not provide enough bodies for the growing interest in science and by this time fewer criminals were being hanged and instead were being transported.

    • Word count: 2349
  8. Explore the way in which writers use language to create a feeling of mystery and suspenseThe Monkeys Paw, The redroom and the Signalman

    The opening of this story starts with archaic language and a pattern of three negative adjectives. "Without the night was cold and wet" the setting outside was 'cold and wet at night' Inside it was 'fire burning brightly, blinds down while father and son were at chess'. This plot shows us the contrast in atmosphere inside and outside the house. Soon a visitor arrives and arouses the Whites curiosity about the monkeys paw 'As the gate banged loudly and heavy footsteps came towards the door'.

    • Word count: 771
  9. I will be examining the settings that the writers have chosen for their stories in 'The Signalman', 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' and 'The Red Room'. I will be considering the effects that each writer has created and how they contribute to the atmosphere

    This is also used in the beginning of 'The Red Room'. This is quite effective because it gets the reader involved and interested right from the beginning. 'The Red Room' also uses this same technique at the beginning. The writer creates a mystery by making the old people very mysterious. Similarly to 'The Signalman' the story starts off with direct speech, plunging straight into action. 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' also creates a mystery right at the beginning, but this writer does it in a different way. Instead of plunging straight into action, this story starts by giving us details on the missing man.

    • Word count: 1960
  10. Discuss the Ways in Which Dickens and Collins Create an Air of Suspense and Mystery in These Stories.

    The main characters in the stories are haunted by ghosts and picked on as targets, making them interesting. The supernatural appear in both of these stories, the signalman using the spectre, which appears to be his cause of death, and the ostler using a witch. Both of the endings in these stories are unexpected, the signalman has a twist at the end, it lead up to just another ordinary day, but then "Signalman killed this morning, sir" is clearly not what the reader expected to happen, very good for creating suspense, makes the reader want to read on to find who or what killed him.

    • Word count: 1046
  11. How do Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells create a sinister atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and The Red Room? 'The Red Room'

    Two points regarding the supernatural and the sinister can be made about this quote. Firstly, Dickens creates a feeling of supernatural in the Signal man by emphasising the distance between him, and a normal person - the narrator. Secondly, in the Victorian times, people strongly believed in hell and heaven, and the fact that the Signalman is below the narrator symbolises that the Signalman is in hell, this in turn, creates a sinister feeling. Furthermore, Dickens portrays the Signalman to be different to human, which confuses the narrator: "There was something remarkable in his manner of doing so, though I could not have said for my life what."

    • Word count: 1468
  12. With close reference to "The Black Veil" and "The Signalman" consider how successful they are as mystery stories. In your answer you should consider:-the criteria for a good mystery story-the use of structure to build suspense

    By using this structure Dickens excites curiosity in the reader. In the story of "The Black Veil," Dickens introduces the setting with a descriptive passage and when the dialogue is introduced it lends excitement to the story. When the 'Black Veil' enters the room Dickens again describes the figure before entering into dialogue which builds suspense. Dickens describes the 'Black Veil's' voice as a 'low, deep voice.' The two main characters of both stories are not given names so in this respect we do not get very close to them.

    • Word count: 957
  13. We have been studying a selection of ghost stories, which were written before 1914 and have rather unusual ghosts

    The final story is The Red Room, which is about whether ghosts are haunting a room in this castle. Herbert George Wells who as a young lad developed love for literature and secretly studied books in the library wrote this story. There is a haunted room in the castle. The owners believe there is an unnatural presence in the castle, which has cause the death of previous occupants. The narrator, on the other hand, is anxious to contradict this theory. The typical ghost story changed during the Victorian period because of the scientific discoveries made in the 19th century.

    • Word count: 2709
  14. Compare and contrast three nineteenth century short stories commentating upon the author's use of gothic conventions of horror and the supernatural.

    Where a man called Orrin Brower is in a country jail awaiting his trial. Orrin Brower knocks out his jailer with an iron bar and robbing him of his keys he takes off into the nigh, where he enters the local forest "wilder than it is now" this is emphasised. The sun has now set now and it had grown dark, "with neither moon nor stars visible". Brower heads off into the overgrown forest, where he walks around trying to get as far as possible from the jail, he realises that he could be going round in circles.

    • Word count: 1472
  15. I am only going to be concentrating on three of the stories, which are; 'The Superstitious Mans Story' by Thomas hardy, 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The Cone' by HG Wells. I want to compare the three stories, to see how they prepare

    'The superstitious mans' story was set in a rural village called Longpuddle 'Philip Holborn was down at Longpuddle spring'. 'The Signalman' was set in an isolated railway cutting 'the cutting was extremely deep, and unusually precipitate'. 'The Cone' was set in an industrial town 'nothing but pot banks and chimneys belching fire and dust'. All three stories have distinctly different settings however all three were set in at the same time of year namely summer. 'The Cone', 'The lingering sunset of midsummer', 'The superstitious man', 'last night being midsummer's eve', 'The Signalman', 'the glow of the angry sunset'. Through the use of language and settings it is safe to assume that these stories are from the Victorian era probably at the same as the authors were writing the stories, as all were Victorian writers.

    • Word count: 884
  16. Pre-1914 Prose Coursework - How do Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and the Red Room? Dickens and Wells both create a sinister and supernatural

    So by the end of the visit the two men had gradually formed a firm friendship. The further meetings became more intense and there was an increased air of mystery around what the Signalman was saying. Dickens suspicion upon the newly invented trains was common amongst many Victorians, therefore the use of this fear created the desired atmosphere for the Signalman. Similarly, the story of the Red Room by H.G. Wells begins with the narrator speaking to one of the custodians about the infamous Red Room.

    • Word count: 2979
  17. The signal man and the Red Room are both pieces of unique gothic literature

    The Red Room is set in a timeless and ageless setting, it is set in the 15th century so naturally HG Wells picked a spooky old gothic castle, for the stories location. Whilst the narrator is on the way to the red room we start to get a valid image of the surroundings, the quote 'Bronze group stood..... Its shadow fell with marvellous Distinctness' Represents a mysterious setting, creating tension and making the reader read on. The narrator climbs up a staircase, the quote, 'The echoes wrang up and own the spiral staircase' We can see that he staircase is quite long and rather perplexed.

    • Word count: 2283
  18. 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
  19. How does Charles Dickens use settings in his story to provoke fear in his readers? In this assignment I will be looking at Charles dickens "the signalman".

    in the middle of the night you know that it is in a claustrophobic place and it creates an image in your mind. The setting grabs your attention because immediately you think something tragic is on its way as often happen in ghost stories also where it is set in a tunnel Charles dickens doesn't say where it is so it could be in the middle of no where. My first impressions of he narrator were that he was like a plot device and introduced characters also that he is mysterious nosey and judgemental and also he is trying to give warning signs to the signalman.

    • Word count: 758
  20. '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
  21. 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
  22. This essay will consider four of this type of story, by short story writers of the period; Dickens' 'The Signal Man', 'The Monkey's Paw' by W W Jacobs, H G Wells' 'The Red Room' and 'The Dream Woman' by Wilkie Collins.

    I will explore all of these aspects of their writing. The location of all these short stories plays a very important role in setting the scene. They were written at the beginning of the Romantic Period which gave rise to a taste for settings removed from the everyday, as a backdrop to out of the ordinary events. Wells' gothic setting of 'The Red Room' within a small castle is typical. A further technique was to contrast a mundane or particularly modern setting with extraordinary and supernatural events. Collins sets 'The Dream Woman' in a village, whereas Dickens' location for 'The Signal Man' is an, at the time, noticeably technologically advanced area, due to the railway track.

    • Word count: 2240
  23. Comparing two pre 1914 ghost stories to show how the writing creates and sustains tension. The two ghost stories that I have chosen are, "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens and "The Old Nurses Story" by Elizabeth Gasbell.

    The narrator in "The Old Nurses Story" is the Nurse. The Nurse is telling the story to Miss Rosamond's Daughter "Miss Rosamond (that was the baby, who us now your mother)". It makes you feel as though you are the little girl, which makes you feel as though you are involved which means that the tension not only builds in the story but it builds on you. The narrator in "The Signalman" is a visitor who visits the signalman. It feels as though he is telling the story a lot after the events have happened. This makes you feel as though you need to be ready for a dramatic story.

    • Word count: 997
  24. How typical are 'The signalman' by Charles Dickens, 'The monkeys paw' by W.W Jacobs and 'The red room' by H.G Wells of the gothic genre?

    "...turned his face towards the little bell when it did not ring, opened the door of the hut and looked out towards the red light of the tunnel" This suggests that there is a ghost around and it haunts the signalman by ringing his bell but he is the only one who can hear it. Before the narrator leaves the signalman's box the signalman promises to tell the narrator what has been troubling him. "If you ever make another visit, I will tell you".

    • Word count: 2884

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