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How do pre-1914 writers create a sense of suspense, mystery and fear?

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Introduction

How do pre-1914 writers create a sense of suspense, mystery and fear? Comparison of three short novels The Red Room is a very good ghost story that was written by H.G Wells. The story was intended to be scary when it was written and it uses tension, atmosphere and a scary plot. Without these key features it would not succeed as a successful ghost story. The reason for this is to entice the reader by giving them small clues so it does not give the plot away, but you have to read on because it does not give enough away only small clues, so it is still a mystery. The main thing that helps create the good atmosphere for a ghost story is that it is set in the old castle. It is occupied by the three old people. They're described as custodians. The candles that are situated round the castle also helps create atmosphere because it shows that it is in the night and most ghost stories are set at night and it then in turn provides an eerie atmosphere. At the beginning of the story the old people help add to the atmosphere by saying the things that had apparently happened there in the Red Room in the past. These things include; 'This night of all nights,' this makes it sound like it could be a type of anniversary of when something or someone had died or an event happened and this night is the worst night to go to the Red Room. 'In which the young Duke had died.' This shows you that something apparently had happened at the castle, a person had died in the Red Room which adds more evidence to there being a ghost being in the room. This then starts to make 'The Red Room' a better ghost story. 'And are you really going?' This shows that the man cannot believe that he is going to The Red Room. ...read more.

Middle

This creates tension by making us want to find out what was so stressful to cause her early greyness, so we ask ourselves what might've caused this. Shortly afterwards we learn that Helen's cause for the distress she has been put through is her step father, who is described to have quite a evil attitude at times. We find out that Helen is due to marry just like her sister was before her murder, and that the Stepfather could once again pull off another appalling stunt to earn himself some more money. Once Helen had left, Dr. Roylott appears to us for the first time in Holmes' doorway. 'So tall was he that the top of his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to span across it from side to side.' He is described as having 'A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow from the sun, and marked with every evil passion' he is also said to have 'deep, bile shot eyes' and a 'high, thin fleshless nose' which resembled 'a fierce old bird of prey.' From this and an earlier description of him by his stepdaughter, from which we learn that he has killed two people already we realise that he has particularly violent past. Watson and Holmes, interested by the case that Helen has given them, soon find their way to the house of Dr. Roylott to examine Julia's room, where Helen was presently sleeping. This brings tension to the story immediately, because Helen is sleeping in the room where her Sister was murdered, at a time so close to her wedding. There were also items in the room that led to no use, a bell rope that led to nowhere, and a ventilator that does not ventilate, it simply led from Dr. Roylott's room, to Julia's. As readers we study the evidence ourselves, and bring all our suspicion to Dr Roylott, raising suspense in the story. ...read more.

Conclusion

His visions of the ghost at-once fools the Narrator into thinking that he is mad and he is hallucinating. The 'dark, sallow man' says that the ghost regularly 'gesticulates' his arm with "passion and vehemence", bowing his head down and covers his face with his arms. He also says that the ghost shouted the very words that the Narrator had said at the beginning of the short story, 'Halloa below there'. At the end the twist shows that the Signalman had many warnings of the coming events. The words "Halloa! Below there!" had been from the train driver trying to warn the Signalman to get out of the way. The ghosts' actions had been because after the crash the train driver had been in the same position. 'Gesticulating' of the arms was supposed to mean "Get out of the way!". Charles Dickens' fine examination of the signal man ends in a climax in which the clues have been given in a cautious but clear manner. All three of these stories have suspense, fear, tension, mystery and a very extraordinary climax to each of them. They have all been written by great writers who know how to make the reader interact with the story and wanting them to grab on. This is a very good use of devices which make us want to read on. My favourite which I read a couple of times was the Signalman, it was extremely bizarre plot but, keeps you guessing and surprised after every turn of the page. It then unravels into a terrible tragedy and cannot help feeling sorry for the Signalman. The Red Room had enormous amounts of suspense throughout the whole story, which I could feel. This was done using many devices, such as he sinister darkness. The Speckled Band is the clever one, which has little links to every part, resulting in them finding the sinister crime being found. ...read more.

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