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GSCE English Coursework - Literary Tradition

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GCSE English Coursework Pre 1914 Short Stories: Literary Tradition We have studied the short stories "The Signalman" by C. Dickens and "The Red Room" by H. G. Wells. Both of these texts are short stories and as such follow the traditional short story writing form. They have a simple plot, an opening that catches the imagination, themes such as ghosts, witchcraft, love, fear hatred ect, very few settings; the action takes place in the same areas. Short descriptions; much is left up to the reader. Short dialogue, suspense or tension and an atmosphere created by characters and setting. The Signalman All stories follow the same general pattern of situation, conflict, main event and resolution. In the signalman the situation is our narrator, visits the signalman who is worried about a haunting. He is having visions of the supernatural. This obviously disturbs the signalman, he tells our narrator with a distinctive fearfulness and wary. The signalman is worried of a danger that the spectre could hold. The conflict is that the signalman believes the spectre is trying to warn him about something, but he can not work out what it is. This is what is causing him the most worry. The signalman wants to know what he can do to save people but he cannot work it out because the ghost's message is unclear to him. ...read more.


A character would be described physically and then the emotions shown on his face will be described at different points in the story. There are only two characters; the narrator and the signalman. We don't know what the narrator looks like as it is in the first person but he describes the signalman as "a dark sallow man, with a dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows." The signalman appears to be a quite private man who may find it difficult to talk openly. The signalman used to be contented but isn't anymore. We know this because when the narrator tells the signalman he thinks he is contented the signalman replied, "I believe I used to be so, but I am troubled sir I am troubled." When the narrator asks him what is troubling him the signalman replies, "it is very difficult to impart, sir. It is very, very difficult to speak of. If ever you make me another visit I will try to tell you". While at work the signalman had 'taught himself a language, worked at fractions and decimals, and tried a little algebra.' When he had been young he had been student of natural philosophy but hadn't made the most of his education and so had ended up being a signalman but he was still philosophical about the whole situation, he accepts what he has done the narrator says 'He has no complaint to offer about that. ...read more.


narrator does not, the phrasing used also explains to our narrator that if he chooses to go on that anything that happens is for him to deal with on his own. The sense of foreboding mystery is enhanced as our narrator explains his views on the old people. "There is to my mind something inhuman in senility". The unease shown here reinforces the atmosphere. If the narrator is frightened or unnerved, we as the reader are as well because of the first person bond I have already mentioned. "The Red Room" has only one setting. This is the castle. There are three subsections of the setting: the room where our narrator begins his story with the three old custodians, the corridor on the way to the red room and the haunted room itself. A large portion of this short story's description is in the red room and the corridor to the room. In the corridor the narrator has been relieved of the three old custodians and so on his own his imagination is allowed to run unchecked. For a start he is in a castle. Old castles are almost synonymous with mystery and the supernatural. As he walks down the corridor and up to the spiral staircase many of the (horror) genre's staples are realised. There are candles in the walls at frequent intervals and reference is made to "old fashioned furniture" and "fashions born in dead brains". ...read more.

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