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How characteristic are The Signalman and The Judge's House of the nineteenth century ghost story genre.

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Introduction

How characteristic are The Signalman and The Judge's House of the nineteenth century ghost story genre. A ghost story usually deals with the reappearance of the repressed and must have a ghost (hence the name). Both types of stories explore the limits of what people are capable of doing/experiencing (e.g., fear, violence, madness) in a world where the "normal" rules of cause and effect do not necessarily apply. The stories present an attempt to find adequate descriptions or symbols for deeply rooted energies and fears related to death, afterlife, punishment, darkness, evil, violence, and destruction. This is what made so many stories in the 19th century popular yet fashionable. In this essay I will try to deal with some of the conventions and normal themes that are contained within a stereotypical ghost story and what the reader encounters as a result. The objective of writing stories such as these is to evoke an emotional response in the reader, so as to keep the reader interested in the story. Dickens' story ' The Signalman' has many examples of different ways of building tension. The opening line 'Halloa! Below there!' plunges us immediately into the story, telling us that we must be attentive in order to follow the story. Furthermore, it makes our imagination start to ask questions, for example; who is saying this? Who are they speaking to? ...read more.

Middle

At the time of these books being published, was a time where many Victorians believed in the supernatural. This is displayed in both stories, as in the Judge's house, the picture of the judge disappeared from the frame and the narrator from the Signalman describes, " as if I had left the natural world". The dialect Dickens' uses in The Signalman are one of rich variety and descriptive language, whereas The Judge's House, the plot and dialect are simple but still have the effect of bringing a nightmarish quality about them. Bram Stoker builds up suspense in The Judge's House by the fact that "the somethings" that Malcolm talks about gives you an image of someone or something constantly watching over you. Religion is significant in The Judge's House as Malcolm throws the bible at the "old devil", being the rat which myth has it, is empowered by the evil judge who previously lived in the house. The Judges House is built around this myth and suspicion. " an old devil! The old devil" cries out Mrs Witham, trying to instil fear into Malcolm. In addition to the eeriness, sound can also had to this strange affect. This can be shown in The Judges House as the rats disturbed Malcolm with their "perpetual scampering". As has already been said the bad weather can also reflect the sounds and strange noises. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the unexplained ending leaves us in a very tense and unsettled state, in comparison the Judge's House has a straightforward ending, with Malcolm dead and the hangman's rope in connection with the judge, the reader understands this plot. The "heavy gables" that swung in the wind give a nightmarish imagery of what the judge's house might look like. From this we follow that this is a gothic element of architect used in the Judge's House to set the mood and atmosphere with great impact. To reiterate the issue, the sudden ending in The Signalman leaves the reader with many unanswered questions, which cannot be said about The Judge's House. This shows how complicated and detailed The Signalman actually is. In short we have two sides to a successful ghost story. The Signalman being plotted with riddles and eeriness, giving as little information about the plot as possible so as to entice the reader to read on and give doubts within the reader about who is actually responsible for the train deaths. Both these stories deal with the common themes, conventions and ideals that pursue an enjoyable ghost story. The main issues being the suspense and tension that is created and how it is created is what captures the imagination of the readers. The author essentially explores the boundaries of all these common themes and his or her own imagination. However if the limits contained within these common themes are abused, the essence of ghoulishness in the ghost story is lost and either becomes too crude for the reader to enjoy. ...read more.

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