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Explore the way in which Westall and Dickens create suspense and mystery in the two ghost stories,

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Introduction

Explore the way in which Westall and Dickens create suspense and mystery in the two ghost stories, "The Call" and "The Signalman". The two ghost stories "The Call" written by Robert Westall and "The Signalman" written by Charles Dickens, both create suspense and mystery to engage the reader's attention. "The Call" is narrated by a person who did not experience the events of the story but heard it from other people, and he also knew the characters. In contrast "The Signalman" is narrated by one of the characters in the story, and is therefore in first person. The ghost story genre has had enduring popularity over the past few centuries. It can even be found as far back as the Elizabethan era, where Shakespeare used ghosts as characters in his plays. For example in Macbeth, the ghost of Banquo comes back to haunt Macbeth. This genre has been so popular because the phenomenon of the supernatural cannot be explained and it ignites a fear in many of us. This was more so when the subject of ghosts were fairly new in literature, around the time when Dickens wrote "The Signalman", and therefore the story would have been quite different for readers. ...read more.

Middle

Before the first call both Meg and Geoff are happy and jolly because of it being Christmas Eve," It was just happiness", but after the call, the cold monotone of the woman spreads into Meg and Geoff, "Meg put the phone down wearily, and suddenly shivered". In the signalman, the first sign of problems arise right at the start, where he asks the question "Halloa Below! There!"-there is no answer by the signalman, even though he is isolated and by himself, he should of easily heard the call but instead stares down the train line, "..But instead of looking up where I stood....he stared down the line". This scene is an eerie one as the atmosphere is also spooky created by lack of light and cold temperature. Another early sign is where the signalman explains that he is "Troubled" to the narrator. The plot development in the call arises after every call; they get more and more detailed and also the inevitability of her death is stressed and cemented by the lone woman." Geoff heard the line go dead again. He thought Meg looked like a corpse herself" the characters get more and more scared because after the first call they were assured by Tom Brett(the loyal duty-director) ...read more.

Conclusion

reader asking little questions, on the other hand the signalman does not resolve very well and most readers will want more of an explanation to the story. Another difference is that there is a good introduction to the call with the narrator explaining the situation at the Samaritans and how the story came about, in complete contrast the signalman dives straight into the tale with the words 'Halloa Below! There!'. The Call was written more than a century after the signalman, and you cans see this by the way Westall tries to enhance the integrity of his story to a much more sceptical reader. By reading the Signalman it is apparent that Dickens is trying to portray a message to the reader using this story. He was worried about the affect new technology like trains would have upon the public and so stresses in this story the danger of trains. On the issue of which story I prefer personally, I would have to say I preferred the call. This is probably so because that the story is written for the modern person and also the fact that the Signalman is a hard story to understand does not suit the modern reader. Vikash Sharma ...read more.

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