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'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.'

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Introduction

Victorian Short Stories '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.' I have been assigned to study three intriguing stories of mystery and enigma written by the renowned authors: Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells. All the stories are Victorian (i.e. were written in the Victorian period) and resonate old, fascinating tales, accompanied by interesting twists. I want to discover the effects that each writer has created in their pieces and how they contribute to and enhance the atmosphere. These are three different stories, all of mystery, trying to keep the reader gripped until the ending. They successfully do so through one main method called 'suspense'. Suspense is created through the twists and unexpected events of each tale, which helps to keep the reader attentive and entertained. ''The Signalman''- this story is a first person narrative where the narrator is unnamed, male and quite open-minded; the fact we know little about him in itself creates suspense. The story opens dramatically through exclaimed speech and evokes suspense along with curiosity. The narrator meets the signalman on the tracks. The signalman believes strongly in the supernatural, and this is what initially draws the reader into the core of the story. The signalman presents superstitions through the words of warning that haunt him (which are ''Halloa! Below there!'' and ''For God's sake, clear the way!'') and also through the eerie occurrences which have crossed him in his past, such as meeting with a ghost on several occasions. These words and circumstances create a lot of suspense for the reader as we ponder in great curiosity where these will possibly fit into the story, knowing something eventful is bound to happen. Tension and suspense are also created here with the supernatural theme which is displayed, along with the gloomy atmosphere; especially through 'the dismal mouth of the tunnel' which appears deadly and largely unknown. ...read more.

Middle

Mystery and the unknown are major themes in the story applied to the setting as well as the storyline, making the area seem intimidating and repugnant. For example, 'as solitary and dismal a place as I ever saw' and 'this great dungeon', these quotes make the setting seem remote and despondent yet provocative and suitable for the supernatural. It also makes it seem dangerous and gloomy, creating tension. Here the atmosphere is intensified and the mood is cautious, dark and mysterious which contributes to the nature of the setting and theme. Dickens plays a lot with light in the environment mainly to show the darkness and concealment of the area and its contrast from the world above, as in 'a gloomy red light and the gloomier entrance to a black tunnel', which shows the murkiness of the place and induces alertness of danger through the colour red. A similar quote is 'so little sunlight' that 'it had an earthly, deadly smell', this presents the sun as a life force and shows the impact of its deficiency in the area. It also creates an association with darkness and negativity. Dickens attempts to involve the reader with the setting and environment; one way he does this is through our senses, for example 'a barbarous, depressing and forbidding air'. This quote activates our sense of smell so we can intensely, compellingly envisage and interact with this dank, uncivilised, rancid, filthy gas. The effects of the setting are displayed in the characters, which further illustrates the mood, as demonstrated in this quote 'it struck chill to me', showing first hand the fear felt by the narrator. As discussed earlier, the story makes constant references of a descent to a place unusual and unknown, for example, 'as if I had left the natural world'. There is plenty of mystery in this setting, which finds it self being split into two contrasting parts. The setting is dark and gloomy which mixes well with the spiritual, superstitious attitudes of the signalman. ...read more.

Conclusion

''The Red Room'' is less identifiable because all we are told is the name of the castle, which is called Lorraine Castle. It is still vague since we do not know where this castle is. ''The Signalman'' is the least identifiable because its exact location is not named, all we know is that the events of this story occur at a railway by a steep cutting. The location has some effect on the mood and atmosphere in the stories, e.g. a castle setting suggests the dark and eerie. All the authors address at least some of the human senses in their short stories. Examples are, 'a vague vibration in the earth and air (evoking touch and sound)', 'a long, low room, thick and heavy with the brown opium smoke (evoking touch, smell and sight)' and 'I walked down the chilly, echoing passage (evoking touch and sound). Sharing senses with the reader is an effective, dramatic technique which helps to heighten the atmospheres of these stories. I would say all the stories have supposed 'hell-holes' in their texts. For ''The Man with the Twisted Lip'' it's East London, for ''The Signalman'' it's the descent and for ''The Red Room'' it's the actual red room. The journey to these 'hell-holes' create suspense and the actual places are tense and elaborately described, such as in this quote 'that large sombre room with its shadowy window bays, its recesses and alcoves. These 'hell-holes' build a lot of excitement, drama and apprehension for the reader. I very much enjoyed reading and studying these Victorian short stories which gave me a pleasant change from the 21st century novels I am used to reading. I found these stories very gripping and intriguing through the excitement and similar key themes which they share, and present intricately in the mood of their settings. The authors have used many effective techniques to enhance and contribute to the atmospheres of their tales. ?? ?? ?? ?? Michael Onyema 11A4 Setting and Atmosphere Coursework Pg1 ...read more.

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