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Essay on the setting and atmosphere in two Victorian stories - The Signalman and The Red Room.

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Introduction

Essay on the setting and atmosphere in two Victorian stories The Signalman and The Red Room are both under the genre of a ghost story. The object of these stories is to scare and to keep them on the edge of their seats as it were. The setting has a great effect on how scary the stories are. That's why they are normally located in dark forests, gloomy castles or damp dungeons. Also the amount of times something happens is often three, because it is believed to be a supernatural number. In The Signalman the suspense is kept up by making the ghost or spectre's reality unclear and also making the story quite a long process between when the narrator meets the signalman and when the signalman dies. Suspense in the Red Room is kept in almost the same way: by making the adventure down the extremely long hallway take ages to get through plus it doesn't help when the person walking down there is suspecting every shadow of being alive. In both stories the ending is not totally clear. In The Signalman you are not totally sure whether there is a ghost or just a lonesome middle-aged man with a slightly strange imagination at the end, but if the ghost was real it was not a friendly one because in affect the ghost killed the slightly mental signalman. ...read more.

Middle

The cutting then leads on to a tunnel, beside this tunnel is a red danger light where the signalman sees this spectre of his. The cutting is "as solitary and dismal place as I ever saw" as the narrator puts it. This means barely any one ever goes down there and certainly no one lives there except the single signalman. It could be because the place is so boring to the eye, the smell of dirt and the look of slime just like a dungeon or as the book puts it "this great dungeon" meaning really clammy, dark, dripping with mould and cracked, grey and boring walls of the valley. I imagine it a bit like the Grand Canyon but instead of having red valley walls it has grey, brown and a few old trees still just hanging onto life in poor soggy soil. Then we come to the red danger light and the deadly black entrance to the tunnel, which the story rotates around. The "gloomy red light and the gloomier entrance to a black tunnel" the gloomy pair seem to just say aloud 'use your imagination and see the ghost standing there'. The Red Room is set in an older age so naturally H.G.Wells picked a spooky old castle in which three ancient people live. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both the stories used cold thermal images like in the signalman there was a cold but strong wind consistently blowing through the cutting and in The Red Room that subterranean passage must have been cold. They both include candles the danger light and the signalman's lantern, the red room was full of them until the ghost or draft blew them out. In the signalman the sense of smell is used to describe that dirty earthy smell that occurs below normal ground level "it had an earthy, deadly smell" and in The Red Room the sense of hearing is found when the narrator thinks he hears a rustling noise. In both stories the setting is based around man made objects such as the cutting and the castle. The first person in both of these stories is the narrator; we see every thing through their eyes. Feelings are shared such as in The Signalman the narrator at one point thinks the signalman to be a spirit and in the very first line of The Red Room the dukes feelings are shared when he says "it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me. Andrew Gidney Centre No. 18301 Candidate No. 4053 Essay on the setting and atmosphere in two stories 27/04/07 ...read more.

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