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Examine the ways in which fear and tension are built up by the writers of 'The Red Room' and 'Examination Day'

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Introduction

Examine the ways in which fear and tension are built up by the writers of 'The Red Room' and 'Examination Day' Two short stories titled the Red Room by H G Wells and Examination Day by Henry Slesar, have used different techniques to build up a fear and tension in their stories. The Red Room was set in the 19th century and was aimed at Victorian readers who liked ghost and mystery stories. The Red Room has a Gothic genre and therefore uses the horror tradition to build up fear. It uses settings such as dark lonely castles, churches, and old houses in Desolate or exotic locations. The readers liked to be frightened as the story developed, but they preferred the ending to be explained, therefore much of the writing in the story is detailed and explicit in order to build up fear in the readers mind. Examination day was written in the 20th century, and therefore its readers were more sophisticated. People were less frightened by Gothic detail and the supernatural, and more shocked by fear of what may happen in the future with the advancement of technology and controlling governments after world war two. ...read more.

Middle

The people obviously have started to cause fear in the narrators mind because he then goes on to talk about being in different spiritual worlds, "They seemed to belong to a different age, when things spiritual were different to this". The name of the room implies horror as red often means danger and sometimes blood and death, although it is not shown in the narration, this may have also helped to build fear. To get to the red room the young man has to walk down a long, draughty sub- terranean passage. He says that it is 'chilly and dusty' which implies that no one has been down it for a long time. The only means of light is to carry a candle, causing lots of shadows to be cast, "The echoes ran up and down the spiral staircase and the shadows came sweeping up after me". The furniture also scares him, when he sees a statue he immediately think that there is someone there, "I stood rigid for half a minute". When he gets to the room we are told that it is very big. We now know that there must be lots of recesses and alcoves for things to hide in. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Examination Day' contains much less description. Here there are more hints at the bad things that are going to happen. For example, tension is shown clearly in the description of the parents, and the poor weather described is used to reflect the mood of the family. In spite of their big differences, there are some similarities between the two stories. For example the way fear is built up through scary settings i.e. the government office and the passage to the red room. The way the characters are very informal. We are not told the names of the three custodians, we are just given descriptions of them, in the same way as the government official wear insignia-less tunics and talk in an emotionless manner. I prefer 'Examination Day' because the fear was built up less obviously and the story line is more original than that of 'The Red Room'. 'Examination Day' uses various language techniques to build the story, with a big impact on the final paragraph, which makes you remember the story. 'The Red Room' frightens and builds suspense for the reader, in an obvious, dramatic way by using typical ghostly settings and strange characters, whilst 'Examination Day' is much more subtle and less obvious, with readers having to use their imaginations more to understand the plot of the story. By Amanda Leigh-Jones By Amanda Leigh-Jones 10EB 1 ...read more.

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