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How do the Authors of At Least Two Short Stories Create and Atmosphere of Fear and Supernatural?

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Introduction

William Bowles. How do the Authors of At Least Two Short Stories Create and Atmosphere of Fear and Supernatural? The two short stories 'The Red Room' by H.G Wells and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens follow in the tradition of gothic horror tales. Both authors write their story from a first person narrative perspective. The main protagonist is the narrator in 'The Red Room' but in 'The Signalman' it is an observer with the Signalman as the main character. These tales of macabre, fantastic and supernatural happenings are in mystical settings. The use of characterisation, structure, language, setting and vocabulary creates a supernatural sense of fear and tension. The authors adopt clever techniques to enhance the numinous atmosphere. 'The Signalman' begins by setting a mystifying scene that incorporates the characterisation. Charles Dickens uses words like 'shadowed, deep, rough, unusually precipitous and clammy'. This develops an early sense of stepping out of realism and creates curiosity. The narrator's descent into the tunnel is controlled by gloomy and miserable language. 'down in the deep trench' and 'great dungeon' These metaphors supply a depressing and eerie feel to the story's progression and describing the tunnel as a dungeon starts to give the story a sense of fear, urgency and doom. ...read more.

Middle

The author adopts the technique of rhetorical questioning. 'but how long might he remain so in this state of mind?' This makes the reader think about what could happen for themselves. 'Below there! Look out! Look out! For God's sake clear the way!' The structure of the short sentences gives an idea of the tension reaching its brink, and steers the story to a mystifying conclusion. In the 'Red Room' by H.G. Wells the setting plays a vital part to the story providing supernaturalism and trepidation. 'before the fire' and 'said the man with the withered arm' are some early descriptions. The man has no name, just a withered arm that immediately provokes mysterious views of his role in this peculiar setting. The author's choice of vocabulary is important to create a sense of spiritualism. 'the old people were trying to enhance the spiritual terrors of the house by their droning insistence.' The subtle use of old people and descriptions of them and their actions sets an odd and unpredictable setting. 'in the queer old mirror at the end of the room.' The idea of a queer mirror distorts reflection of normal life, laying down a foundation of uncertainty. Characterisation is an intrinsic part of setting the scene. ...read more.

Conclusion

By barricading the natural darkness he has shown an aggressive gesture and added a sense of mystery. It seems that the unnatural light he has produces enhances the shadows. 'lit a candle, and placed where the shadows lain deepest.' There is a unreal, remoter darkness beyond imagination that relies on natural light. He physically fills the darkness with a halo of light he can recognise. Fear is provided with language stressing on the character being scared. 'I cried, with a queer high note getting into my voice', and 'speaking with a half hysterical facetiousness.' The author has provided us with a major contrast in the character's feelings and a contrast in the setting. Using vocabulary to enhance the contrasts denotes fear. In a world of candles, steam trains and superstition; a world peopled by characters who seem at one with darkness and supernaturalism- the atmosphere of anxiety and fear is not difficult to achieve. Dickens and Wells draw on psychology of fear in their stories of mystery and horror. 'The Signalman' and 'The Red Room' both create a build up of fear and anticipation with use of language. 'The Red Room' relies upon the contrast of scene and character to give fear but 'The Signalman' uses techniques to create uneasy curiosity. ...read more.

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