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How do Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens show tension, fear and danger in the stories ‘The Swan’ and ‘The Signalman.

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How do Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens show tension, fear and danger in the stories 'The Swan' and 'The Signalman. Targets: 1. To show insight into characters, setting and structure in a story. 2. To analyse the similarities and differences between texts and how they reflect the time in which they were written. 3. To analyse how each text affects the reader and creates atmosphere through the use of language and linguistic devices. 'The Swan' by Roald Dahl and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens are two stories which create an atmosphere of tension, fear and danger. 'The Swan' is a late twentieth century story about a small boy who is severely bullied by two older and bigger boys. 'The Signalman' is a nineteenth century ghost story of a man who feels that he is being haunted which drives him to his death. These stories have similarities in the characters, but also have differences of their settings and language used. The reader of both these stories can compare the opening of the stories; the different settings; the structure of the stories; the characters, and the narrative style. Firstly, I will compare the opening sections of both stories. The first line of 'The Swan' intrigues the reader; "Ernie had been given a .22 rifle for his birthday." ...read more.


The reader would feel horrified at reading this story and that the violence is growing worse. At the beginning of the story, they discover that Ernie can be violent with or without a gun. The reader then actually sees Ernie using it as he tied each bird he killed "by the legs to a line of string". It is then not before long before the two bullies tie the dead swan wings to Peter's arms. This all creates a tense atmosphere that becomes even more tense as the story progresses. 'The Signalman' has three clear sections. Tension builds up as the three visits from 'the ghost' links to the appearance of the train and then death. As the train and death is linked, after the second incident, the reader and characters expect the third visit to be worse. Small events are also repeated which create mystery. The bell builds tension as every time it echoes, the Signalman sees the ghostly image. Also the repetition of the red danger light emphasises the danger of the story. Both 'The Swan' and 'The Signalman' use repetition to create a tense and fearful atmosphere. 'The Swan' repeats the juxtaposition of a beautiful countryside to "heavy and loutish", violent boys. As this repeats, the contrast becomes stronger. The reader feels more tense as Ernie torments Peter by using repetition; "...I ain't exactly sure 'ow much clearance them trains've got underneath. ...read more.


Out of both stories, I find that 'The Signalman' is more mysterious. I think this because when the Signalman thinks he sees the 'ghost' waving to save lives, it actually causes death to the passengers of the train and later the supernatural causes his own death. It is more mysterious as it puzzles the reader. They do no know whether it was just the train driver who waved each time, the Signalman's imagination or whether it was really the supernatural. However, I prefer 'The Swan'. It creates a more dangerous atmosphere. There is more description and physical violence, which helps the reader to create a visual image. It is also easier to understand whereas 'The Signalman' is confusing. In conclusion, I think that 'The Signalman' is more tense. Even though it is difficult to understand, as the Signalman is mentally distressed, a tense atmosphere is built as neither the reader nor the Signalman know what to expect. I found that 'The Swan' builds a dangerous and fearful atmosphere, as it is more descriptive. It does also create a fair amount of tension, especially in the opening of the story. 'The Signalman' creates more tension than 'The Swan' in its use of trains. Every death that occurs in the story is linked to the train. After comparing the two stories, I have come to the conclusion that even though 'The Swan' carries the most danger, 'The Signalman' creates a more tense and fearful atmosphere. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sofia Tahir ...read more.

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