How do the authors create a feeling of fear and terror, suspense and the extraordinary?
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How do the authors create a feeling of fear and terror, suspense and the extraordinary? In order to answer this question I read the relevant stories, i.e. 'The Ostler' by Wilkie Collins, 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells and 'The Superstitious Man's Story' by Thomas Hardy in great detail. I will now attempt to compare the methods the authors have utilised to create the impact mentioned above. In order to see which one has been more effective in conveying fear and terror, suspense and the extraordinary, in my opinion. Furthermore, I will endeavour to point out the similarities and differences in tense, style and prose between the stories, using quotations where appropriate. Moreover, I will discuss the roles the various characters play. These people are important, as the reader needs to identify to some extent with the narrator and his description and interpretation of his 'human props' as well as the setting they are placed in. The opening to any story is crucial, since the reader may not decide to continue with his intention to 'read all' if he/she is not sufficiently interested in the first few sentences.
At the end of the story he has not changed his mind, in spite of his unpleasant experiences in the so called 'haunted room'. It is quite obvious, from the outset, that he is an educated man. He is a sceptical person, although he professes to have an open mind. Again, legend and a particular night have some great significance. The scene is set at the beginning when the narrator almost distances himself from the 'grotesque custodians' - 'I half-suspected the old people were trying to enhance the spiritual terrors of their house by their droning insistence', and 'The three of them made me feel uncomfortable'. Much is made of the word 'tonight'. It is obviously the anniversary of a legend. The narrator makes is clear he is there to get on with the task at hand, and not to be drawn in by their superstitions. The present tense is used initially, and then the author changes to the past tense when he voices his opinions in regard to the castle keepers.
Although it commences in the present tense; 'I find an old man, fast asleep', it takes on the past tense later when another relates to the story. 'The Ostler' is not an educated man, and I cannot help wondering if his mother embroidered his story to suit her own ends. In conclusion, I feel that the ghost stories will always be popular since the unknown is intriguing to many. Even though the three stories have a different approach they all centre of the supernatural. They are all written pre-1914 - well before the advent of technology, which has accelerated at an alarming rate. Nowadays, our culture revolves around technology and people require proof. It is essential for an author to set the scene, draw the reader in and when that is accomplished deliver the punch line. All of the authors succeed in doing this. 'The Superstitious Man's Story' is too stark, and puts the reader 'on guard' as to its content. I prefer the gradual style of the other two stories. In 'The Red Room' and 'The Ostler' the settings and the characters enhance the plot immensely. The characters are not developed enough in 'The Superstitious Man's Story', and the setting is rather boring. 1 By Richard Kottke
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