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

Examine how Elizabeth Gaskell and H.G Wells build up tension andconvey fear in two gothic short stories; 'The Old Nurse's Tale' and 'The RedRoom'

Extracts from this document...


Examine how Elizabeth Gaskell and H.G Wells build up tension and convey fear in two gothic short stories; 'The Old Nurse's Tale' and 'The Red Room' Chelsea M Allen Gothic fiction emerged in the late eighteenth Century. A Gothic story is a style of fiction characterized by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious, or violent incidents. In most gothic stories the writer challenges the intersection of the supernatural and the rational and inspires dread and horror. In this essay I will examine how the writers of both 'The Red Room' (H.G Wells) and 'The Old Nurse's Tale' (Elizabeth Gaskell) build up tension and convey fear. I will compare both stories by examining the similarities and differences between the two as well as using my personal opinion to decide the most successful story which builds up the most tension and most fear. Changing the mood during a story makes it more exciting and less predictable which captivates the reader's interests and builds up a great amount of tension. Both stories show evidence of significant mood change, which created a successful amount of suspense when I read them. 'The Red Room' effectively begins in medias-res, which is very effective as from the very first sentence there is an immediate cause for concern. ...read more.


The house, like most gothic stories, is very isolated and desolate, which creates a scary and eerie atmosphere. It is described as 'overshadowed' by the 'gnarled thorn-trees, and old oaks, all white and peeled with age', which adds to the daunting ambience. Throughout the story Elizabeth Gaskell tends not to use the setting as an important factor in order to convey fear and reverts more to other factors. In my opinion H.G Wells has successfully created a more gothic and supernatural feel through the use of the setting than Elizabeth Gaskell. I feel this is because H.G Wells has used a lot more description on setting than Elizabeth Gaskell and has carried the gothic setting on all the way throughout the story apart from the end where he has used the daylight-normality setting to mirror the rational ending. Another important factor in building up tension and conveying fear is the mystery of the story. This is effective as it keeps the reader in the dark about what is going on, and consequently more tense. In 'The Old Nurse's Tale' and 'The Red Room' there are many unanswered questions. In 'The Old Nurse's Tale' the first one to be introduced is why there are so few people left at the house? ...read more.


I also think an effective method of instilling fear, tension and suspense are traditional themes such as the gothic settings, the use of light and dark, and the overtones of death, all typically gothic. There are many similarities in the two stories, for example; they are both written in the subjective, they are both set in desolate surroundings and both contain many overtones of death. There are also many differences in the two stories; they use different journeys to build up tension, and 'The Old nurse's Tale' ends supernaturally and the 'Red Room' ends rationally. Some parts of each story I did not like, for example, in the 'Red Room' the old withered servants appear very old and extremely exaggerated beyond the point of seriousness, and I did not like the long-winded irrelevant points in 'The Old Nurse's Tale'. Overall I think the most effective story for instilling fear, tension and suspense is 'The Old Nurse's Tale' as it was more easily understandable and it left a more effective ending as it left the supernatural occurrences left unexplained whereas the 'Red Room' provided a rational explanation for the events. I also found the story more interesting and I found the supernatural events more intense. I also found that 'The Old Nurse's Tale' was generally more gothic than 'The Red Room' as 'The Red Room' was not gothic at the end of the story. ...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 H.G. Wells 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 H.G. Wells essays

  1. 'The Red Room' is a pre-twentieth century short story written as a gothic mystery.

    He tries to reassure himself by lying to himself although he has a deeper feeling that he may not be alone. As he goes over to re-light the candle, it goes out, then another and another. Then one is extinguished in front of him while he is looking at it,

  2. Free essay

    Comparing The Red Room (H.G Wells) and The Yellow Wallpaper (Charlotte Perkins)

    This creates a sinister atmosphere. The Yellow Wallpaper contrasts with the story in the Red Room as the story to the Yellow Wallpaper is left unresolved. Several places in text suggest that there has been someone in the room before and they have experienced similar things whilst lodging in the room.

  1. English Coursework on Comparing Two Horror Short Stories : The Monkey's Paw and The ...

    The beginning of the monkey's paw is very descriptive as it explains all about the surroundings and the characters. The monkey's paw is very slowly introduced later in the story. The author created suspense by making the suspense level a little high, high, very high and then to a normal level.

  2. The Red Room How successfully did HG Wells create an atmosphere of mystery and ...

    That might be worse than your garden-variety ghost could manage. And what's more, in spite of his initial boasting, didn't the narrator lose the battle with fear? He couldn't beat it. It's just his luck that he didn't fall down the stairs or otherwise mortally injure himself, like the duke did.

  1. How tension Is built Up in short stories

    in whose massive architecture there was a barbarous, depressing, and forbidding air." This description contains two semicolons which proves that Dickens deliberately tries to make the sentences as long as possible. Also, Dickens tries to use dark adjectives to engage the reader by making the image more vivid and disturbing.

  2. How do H.G Wells and E. Allen-Poe create an atmosphere of fear and tension ...

    The use of direct speech in the first line, "I can assure you......that I will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me," is also a very effective way of getting the reader interested. The build up, and the relief of tension in the Tell-Tale Heart has a very different

  1. How does H.G Wells convey the experience of fear of The Red Room

    Again the narrator experiences fear as he cautiously kept an eye on the landing and the other on the door of the red room. The narrator may also be trying to satisfy his conscious by thinking that there is nothing there.

  2. knowing and not knowing humour and iriony in H.G Wells' short stories

    He also feels more safe with the candles, he puts them in every corner of the room to shield himself from the misleading darkness. The most humorous part of the story is when he fundamentally gives up his sanity - he starts seeing things that are not there and noises that no one else can hear.

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