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Examining 'The Red Room' by H.G Wells and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens, two short stories set in the later 19th century.

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Introduction

Hassan Daoud Y10A 1st of November 2003 Coursework- First Draft Examine closely two short stories you have studied in this unit and compare the ways in which the writers have created fear and suspense. `'The Red Room' by H.G Wells and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens are two short stories set in the later 19th century ('The Red Room' 1896, 'The Signalman' 1860s). 'The Red Room' is a Gothic horror story while 'The Signalman' is a story containing many elements of Gothic horror from the earlier 19th century. They both mention the supernatural although 'The Signalman' is questioning it and 'The Red Room' is a story made to prove that there is no such thing as the supernatural. H. G Wells created fear and suspense in 'The Red Room' in many ways. He raises the suspense level mainly through the personalities of the three old custodians, with language, description and their actions. The man with the withered arm gives aid with increasing the suspense level with his repetitions of the phrase 'It's your own choosing.'. It is a warning repeated three times, an effect used in 'The Signalman as well. The repetitions of a phrase or an action three times is an element used by writers to increase fear and suspense because the number three is believed to be an unlucky number, although at that time when there was superstition and questions of witches and the supernatural, it would have given a much better effect. ...read more.

Middle

losing reason but when he was in the red room, he said, 'and crushed the last vestiges of reason from my brain.' This showed that he completely lost his reason but he actually regains it at the end of story when he describes as fear to be haunting the red room. Also suspense and fear is created at the very end of the story when the plot is revealed because it is a twist and is very exciting. Also when the signalman is describing the Appearances and their unfortunate results (train wrecks), is a very exciting and suspenseful part of the story because it raises so many questions and answers questions that the reader would develop at the very beginning of the story( Why the signalman looked at the Line? Why did the signalman look at the bell twice in the middle of his conversation with the narrator? Why did the signalman look at the red light twice during his talk with the narrator?). And the way ,at the beginning of the story, when the signalman was pointing in a zombie-like fashion also adds to whether or not the signalman is a spirit, which of course creates fear and suspense. In 'The Red Room', Wells uses a similar technique with the swaying of side to side and the staring at the fire of the old woman is a typical element of Gothic horror stories used to create suspense and fear. ...read more.

Conclusion

To be precise, I find the language in 'The Signalman' to be a little like the language used in Shakespearean time. For example the phrase, 'what quarter the voice came' is a lot more old fashioned than 'The Red Room' where Wells could have said 'where the voice came from' which is a lot more modern. But each of the stories share the long descriptive sentences, which is the norm for Victorian times. But the main difference in language that creates suspense in different ways is how the speed of the story is different for each. 'The Signalman' is a lot slower than 'The Red Room' that jumps right into the excitement and suspense. Although the technique Dickens used also creates suspense because he makes the reader want to read on from the beginning to know the answers to enquiries created at the beginning of the story. In conclusion, I feel that suspense is mainly created through the dark and scary settings, awkwardness of the characters and the descriptions of the nerve wrecking situations that excite readers a lot. I think that 'The Signalman' is the most suspenseful story because 'The Red Room' is more exciting and thrilling than suspenseful and 'The Signalman' again I mention has so many questions that even people who finish the story still can't answer like how we are not sure whether or not the spectre actually exists or was it a vision. ...read more.

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