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How do Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and The Red Room?

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How do Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and The Red Room? In the pre nineteenth century the gothic genre was extremely popular. The stories were set with a horror theme in a supernatural way, including odd behaviour in "The Signalman" and "The Red Room". These usually consisted of dark, gloomy places like castles where supernatural happenings could occur. In this essay I will be talking about two novels "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens and "The Red Room" by H.G. Wells. The story "The Signalman" is a 19th century gothic horror story. The plot of the story is about an isolated railway cutting. It all begins when a traveller meets a lonely signalman who has a tale to tell. "The Signalman" is being haunted by mysterious figure that lurks in the mouth of the rail tunnel, warning him of tragedies. He has appeared not once but twice before and both occasions "The Signalman" witnessed terrible accidents, one a train crash and then a young girl falling from a speeding carriage. "The Red Room" is about a man who visits a castle and wants to enter "The Red Room" that no one enters but he wants to enter. ...read more.


Furthermore "Wells" in addition uses triplets like "Dickens" "their gaunt silences, their bent carriage, their evident unfriendliness" to highlight the supernatural atmosphere. Danger is represented by repetition in "The Red Room" "This night of all nights?" causes the narrator to be scared and not so confident in entering the red room. Techniques such as these are used by both "Wells" and "Dickens" to create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere. The way that Dickens and Wells describe the Signalman and the custodians helps to increase the feeling of supernatural. Firstly the signalman's is described in many ways as well as his "signal box". 'His post was in as solitary and dismal a place as ever I saw'. It is also described as a 'box', which suggests that it very small and cramped. The hut lies on the mouth of a tunnel, which has many references to hell and the supernatural world, 'A dripping wet wall of jagged stone......as if I had left the natural world'. This implies a sinister and evil place which the narrator and reader feel uncomfortable in. In "The Signalman" the signalman experience is the centre of the story whereas the "The Red Room" the old people's experience is the main part of the story. ...read more.


The descriptions and atmosphere in "The Signalman" is supernatural, ghostlike and sinister. It is a "deep", "damp cutting" with a "dark tunnel" described as "barbarous", "depressing" and with "forbidding air". Moreover "Dickens" also uses a lot of effective adjectives such as "Great dungeon" meaning that the place is like a prison damp, cold no light. "Dickens" also has created a setting which is spooky and set at the bottom of a "deep valley" therefore establishing a perfect setting for supernatural things to occur. Secondly "a strip of sky" explains that there is a limited amount of sunlight which is unhealthy and unusual therefore creating a sinister atmosphere to the reader. Both "Wells" and "Dickens" hint the reader of hell and danger like in "The Red Room" "the long, draughty subterranean passage was chilly and dusty" signify hell because hell is underground which was believed at that time as well as in "The Signalman" when the narrator shouts down to hell. Both stories are set in dark, gloomy places, enhanced with gothic description and hint to the reader of a sinister and supernatural atmosphere. In conclusion I believe that both "Dickens" and "Wells" have created a supernatural and sinister in the opening of "The Signalman" and "The Red Room" by the language, setting and descriptions. Even if the setting are different the imagery is very similar. ...read more.

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