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How do 19th Century authors employ horror, mystery and surprise in their work?

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Introduction

How do 19th Century authors employ horror, mystery and surprise in their work? Authors have always tried to make their work different by adding in something that has never been done before. This doesn't just apply to books either; films, TV programs and songs all do it. Authors will use tried and tested ways of getting the reader's attention, but they are always on the lookout for new methods that can take everyone by surprise and make them think, "Well, I never expected that!" Stories have changed a lot since the 19th Century, but the same underlying themes used in the past still produce some of the best pieces of literature today. I'm exploring how these themes were used and whether or not they were effective. Horror was a popular theme in the 19th Century, and many authors, in particular those of the short stories we are looking at, used that as a base for their writing. Short stories with horror are probably more effective than ones focusing mainly on humour might be, mostly because one doesn't need a lot of build-up to a horror story. With a comedy, one needs to get to know the characters well before one can fully understand and appreciate the humour used. This takes time and cannot be crammed into a story with only a few pages. A horror story, however, is more effective if the readers know less and have to work a few things out for themselves. ...read more.

Middle

However, this coincidence also involves mystery as well. In 'The Monkey's Paw', the way in which the paw works is mysterious. Does it take something away in order to give you what you want, or was it just a coincidence that their son happened to die? And, like 'The Signalman', the ending is linked with mystery and so there is no surprise. The endings don't give away what actually happened in the two stories whereas surprise endings do. If the story focuses mainly on mystery then it is unlikely to have a surprise ending because it would seem weird to be given clues throughout the story as to what happens at the end, but then be told something completely different to what the clues implied would happen. The characters in the stories are quite similar as well. In both stories there is someone who believes what is happening is supernatural (the signalman and the mother) and there is someone who doesn't know what to believe (the visitor and the father). This is very common in mystery stories because there has to be one who believes and one who doesn't, otherwise there wouldn't be different opinions and then the reader wouldn't be able to choose which one he believed. If everyone in the story believed, then the reader would have to believe as well because the story would give that impression and then there would be no mystery. The settings are typical of horror stories as well, because they are dark, isolated, and very mysterious. ...read more.

Conclusion

The twist in this story is that the pirates are looking for the diamonds and all the time they are in the grocer's foot. All these stories make full use of the surprise element by building up the plot making the reader think one thing, only to turn around at the end and say that it was something completely different. Because these stories focus on the surprise, these don't really compare to the first three, which focused on horror, mystery and coincidence. 'The Necklace', 'D�sir�e's Baby' and 'The Clubfooted Grocer' tell the whole story to the reader, eliminating the mystery because it means there is nothing to guess at the end. This is the same as in 'The Red Room' because the young man says what is in the room and there is nothing left unanswered at the end. 'The Signalman' and 'The Monkey's Paw' differ here because there were unanswered questions at the end and places where the reader needed to guess things. In conclusion, 19th century authors employ various techniques and themes into their work to entice the reader including; horror, mystery, surprise, supernatural and coincidence. If these are used in the right way with the right amount, then they can be extremely effective, but used too much, or in the wrong way then they are as effective as an umbrella at a nuclear weapons testing site. From the stories looked at, one can clearly see how effective the right amount of any of these elements can be and how it can produce a great story. Phil Scott 10V June 1st, 2003 Page 1 of 6 ...read more.

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