• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Signalman section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Signalman essays

  1. Which of the Two Horror Stories: "The Monkey's Paw" or "The Signalman" Do you ...

    its horror, I still prefer "The Monkey's Paw's" as I have already stated that I prefer stereotypical horror settings. I also enjoy the way the atmosphere fluctuates in "The Monkey's Paw", moving from sinister to pleasant, as I find that this creates further shock.


    As the writer is describing "The Red Room," it increases the level of tension. Suspense is also built in the story by characters, for example through the old people, who are the keepers of the castle. The description given about these old people makes the reader feel as if they

  1. "A short story should stimulate the imagination and hold its reader in suspense."Consider the ...

    This statement raises questions in the reader's mind, drawing upon the curiosity and mystery which may entice the reader to continue as they want answers to their questions. In addition, the repeated statement encourages the reader to pity the signalman who is obviously struggling to deal with the strange events.

  2. Short, entertaining stories were extremely popular within the Victorian era, and a number of ...

    to draw them in so that they feel that they are there, and that their own 'Rosy-Posy' is missing, and not Hester's, as she polishes the tale with her own pet names for Miss Rosamond. 'Well-a-day!' is a typical phrase that the 'Old Nurse' Hester uses, to exclaim about how terrified that '(her)

  1. How do Dickens and W.W. Jacobs create a strong sense of dramatic tension in ...

    are things of influence and power that direct the events of the stories as the audience really get in to the story as they believe such spirituality. The use of a three fold structure within both the stories provides the reader the certainty of a third and conclusive 'event' also

  2. Examine how the theme of isolation and the supernatural are explored in 'The signalman', ...

    "He turned himself about, and looked down the line". This showed that he had lives in his hand and he needed to this to help to well being of other. This quote also shows that the times were advancing and the way in which this job was effective at the time and the way in which technology was advancing.

  1. This essay will consider four of this type of story, by short story writers ...

    the readers response to the unexplained and the sense of apprehension brought about by a lack of certainty surrounding the main features. Suspense is created not only through uncertainty regarding the main character but also through unseen terrors which are hinted at but are yet to be made clear.

  2. Analysing 4 Short Horror Story Openings.

    and looked out towards the red light near the mouth of the tunnel". This shows that he appears to be waiting for something to happen, but what? As the writer is about to leave, the signalman tells him that he is troubled but feels unable to talk about those troubles to him at that moment.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work