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Examine three different ghost stories; how successfully have the authors involved the readers in their story? Which story seems to make the best use of suspense?

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Introduction

English Coursework Examine three different ghost stories; how successfully have the authors involved the readers in their story? Which story seems to make the best use of suspense? The three ghost stories that we have examined are 'The Signalman', 'Turn of the screw' and 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'. 'The Signalman' is a short story written in 1866 by Charles Dickens. 'Turn Of The Screw' is a novella written in 1898 by Henry James. 'The Girl I Left Behind Me' is another short story written in 1957 by Muriel Spark. There are two characters in 'The Signalman', himself and the narrator. The narrator meets the Signalman at a railway cutting and is strangely received by the Signalman. The narrator returns the next day to here the Signalman's story. The Signalman tells him of the haunting that he has been experiencing recently at the cutting. The spectres seemed to foretelling a tragedy that is going to occur. Previous prophesies have turned out when a woman dies at the cutting and it is just time before the Signalman's death comes just as predicted. The Signalman is articulate in that he explains everything clearly. For example he describes things in such clear detail it was as if he were commentating on it. One example is on page 172 the paragraph beginning, 'One moonlight night,' he goes on in such detail- '...and (I) ...read more.

Middle

It involves the reader in a clever way; he does it by making the reader feel part of the group that Douglas is talking to as a friend. You feel part of the story, and you get the same suspense that the friends get when he doesn't have the story and you eagerly want to here the story due to the build up. The build up to the story lasts eight pages and it is surprising that James can hold the reader for that long, it's all due to the skill of James building up the suspense. James can also control your thoughts by what the other friends are saying and they help to build up the suspense. The importance of the constant deferral to Douglas' narrative is that it gives effect. James uses suspense all throughout the story one good example of this is the last three paragraphs of chapter two. Mrs. Grose is describing the death of Miss. Jessel, 'But our young lady never came back... she was dead...but please Miss...(putting off the conversation)...I must get to my work'. James uses lots of unpredictability's to make the reader feel vaguely uneasy. The Governess turns out to be the wrong person for the job. She has come from a poorer background, and she has obviously not had experience in being a governess but she is young and keen to prove herself to her employer who has a crush on her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Once the reader is into the story then the originality of the story makes it gripping and involving. James uses the governess to involve the reader by using the first person narrative. James wrote it at a time when country houses were common and it would relate to them well. They would be involved by the possibility of them being in a similar situation. The Girl I Left Behind Me also uses ambiguity to involve the reader. It seems uncannily strange that she should be having a normal day yet the reactions of those around her are very strange. Spark writes in a way that involves the reader by not spending much time describing tedious detail. She writes for her era and the setting would be common and not be boring to the reader. She uses suspense cleverly by switching between two scenes; this means that the reader seems to be moving along with the story and not stuck in one place. I think that the Turn Of The Screw involves the reader the best because of the way in which James writes so captivatingly. I think that The Girl I Left Behind Me uses the best use of suspense because of the constant movement in the story between paragraphs, which make the reader read through each paragraph to get to the next one to find out what happened. We keep reading through the story to find out what is going on due to the ambiguity giving suspense. 1 Timothy Dry 10R ...read more.

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