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How are tension andsuspense created in 'The Signalman' and 'The Red Room'?

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Introduction

How are tension and suspense created in 'The Signalman' and 'The Red Room'? My aim is to analyse the way which tension suspense is built up in two Victorian stories - 'The Red Room' (by H.G Wells) and 'The Signalman' (by Charles Dickens). These two successful authors were both well known for using suspense and tension in their stories. Wells has written many classical books, which include "The Time Machine" and "War of the Worlds". Dickens has written other illustrious books, such as "Christmas Carol", "Great Expectations", and "Oliver Twist". Also in my analysis I will be briefly mentioning "The Clubfooted Grocer" (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), "The Monkey's Paw" (by W. Jacobs) and "The Tell Tale Heart" by (Edgar Allan Poe). All of these celebrated stories, like most Victorian stories, are short and their genre is gothic horror. Short gothic horror stories were the main form of entertainment in this time period, as there was a lack of electricity then. These stories are strongly related to Victorian beliefs, which were mainly superstition. The reason for this is that the Victorians were slightly uneducated, and didn't know better. Ghosts, witches, supernaturalism and black magic were the main focus of these short stories. 'The Signalman' provides a fine example into how Victorian railways differ from those ones today. Victorian railways were extremely dangerous, and a signalman's job was exceptionally strenuous and demanding. ...read more.

Middle

If the character was well known (like a scientist, doctor or a close friend), then the signalman would be revealing too much, therefore it would create less tension and suspense. However, the narrator is helpless and ordinary, and always wanting to find out more - just like the reader. This point is proved when the narrator says; "I expressly intend to make you another visit." This creates suspense because it informs the reader that there is more to come, and the signalman has not yet finished telling his stories. 'The Signalman' builds up suspense and tension with a rather slow pace. On the other hand, 'The Red Room' is completely different. The length of sentences varies in 'The Red Room', whereas in 'The Signalman' it is mainly lengthy (except for one part). In 'The Red Room', the longer sentences were used less, and only when the mood and atmosphere was fairly calm. However, shorter sentences were used in tight situations; "I stopped abruptly. There was an interval of silence". These short sentences indicate that the narrator is terrified, which adds to the suspense. Suspense and tension is also created when the narrator describes his journey to the red room. The narrator describes his every move in close detail; "The echoes rang up and down the spiral staircase, and shadow came sweeping up after me." This creates a lot of tension for the reader, as if they will be expecting something to happen soon. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I say that 'The Red Room' creates better tension and suspense than "The Signalman". 'The Red Room' uses more description, which gives the reader an accurate picture. Also in 'The Red Room', the reader is always kept at the heart of the action, whereas in 'The Signalman', the reader and narrator are clinging on to information given by the signalman, and wanting to find out more. I think that suspense and tension was created throughout 'The Red Room', but in 'The Signalman', a lot adumbration was used earlier, and it all came into play in one scene. Also, the fact that 'The Red Room' ends in a cliff-hanger, adds more tension to the story. For me, the ending of 'The Signalman' is too abrupt, although tension was still created by the tragedy of the signalman. However, the main difference is that in 'The Red Room', the reader can actually decide what happens, but in 'The Signalman' he cannot. However despite all this, I still believe that these short stories still provide the reader with a thrilling encounter of suspense and tension. I believe that to make a story mysterious and full of suspense you need to create mystery because mystery in the present creates suspense in the future. You must not reveal everything to the reader and leave them to figure it out for themselves. It should keep the reader guessing right till the end of the story. Again, I believe that both these stories achieve this remarkably well and cover all of these points to make the stories full of mystery, suspense and tension. ...read more.

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