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Explain what makes a good mystery story based on your understanding of three of the short stories

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Introduction

Explain what makes a good mystery story based on your understanding of three of the short stories The three stories, 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens, 'The Monkey's Paw' by W.W. Jacobs and 'The Dream Woman' by Wilkie Collins, are mystery stories made successful through not only the authors' macabre and sinister use of compelling storylines, but also their use of powerful characterisation, dramatic settings and convincing language. Each of the main characters within these three stories becomes the subject of mysterious, inexplicable happenings as well as the victims of supernatural happenings. In choosing to present an ordinary family, leading a very mundane and typically normal way of life, W.W. Jacobs, succeeds in making what happens to them, seem not only more credible, but also more extraordinary. Mr & Mrs White are unpretentious people who become caught up in drama that is both terrifying and bizarre. Had they been more affluent and worldly-wise, then perhaps the 'Sergeant Major's' tale would not have has such an impact upon them. The plot of 'The Signalman', however, is different to that of 'The Monkey's Paw' yet some aspects of the storyline are similar. In 'The Signalman' there is much more to do with the beliefs and premonitions of ghosts and visions. ...read more.

Middle

The inn at which he works is also extremely isolated, as it takes the doctor quite a while to reach. The first part of the short story is set at the inn. Hearing about Isaac's past life change the scenery and timing completely, as Isaac once lived with his mother; who only wanted him to be happy. When Isaac goes to search for jobs, he again is on his own for long periods of time, whilst travelling, which isolates him, just as the signalman and the White family are isolated. In 'The Signalman' ominous and detailed references to the senses are employed, for the narrator describes a build up of movement as the train approaches which causes him to "start back as though it had the force to draw (him) down". The trains approach begins as a 'vague vibration', which changes into a 'violent pulsation' and then becomes an 'oncoming rush'. The writer's use of adjectives and personification, as well as ghost story conventions such as "vapour" and rushes of "air" in his description of the train itself transform it into an almost ghostly predator. As well as "air", a "cold wind" "rushed through" the tunnel which "struck chill', and an "earthy deadly smell" prevailed again suggesting to the narrator that he "had left the natural world". ...read more.

Conclusion

Prior to the Sergeant Major's visit she speaks "soothingly" and she shares "knowing glances" with her son. Towards the story's end however she cried "wildly" and "screamed" her words. The narrator's view of the signalman is one which he shares with the reader for he controls the story, describing the solitary man as "dark" and "a man who has been shut up within narrow limits all his life". Yet, later in the narration, when the signalman himself relates his own story, he presents as an everyday, normal individual life. These three writers create and sustain the theme of mystery and suspense throughout their short stories not only with their use of language and literary conventions, but pace control and the element of surprise feature strongly within each. The stories are of just the right length and the writer's chose to employ very ordinary, everyday characters to experience very extraordinary events. Line lengths are varied in order to create particular moods and dialogue is used to full effect, so that each speaker's character and personality is quickly made known. Each story is dramatic and eerie in its own way, but perhaps, the most important element of all is that these three writers succeed in making their mystery stories seem absolutely credible and so, realistic. ?? ?? ?? ?? Priyan shah ...read more.

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