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How do the authors of The Red Room and The Signalman create suspension and tension with characterization and setting? The

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How do the authors of The Red Room and The Signalman create suspension and tension with characterization and setting? The Red Room by HG Wells and The Signalman by Charles Dickens are two gothic stories which have made good use of description to give their readers a tense atmosphere which leads to suspense throughout the story. By creating ideal gothic settings, dark tunnels, haunted rooms and haunted tunnels with ad, both stories leave readers hooked as we worry for various characters since they are in such sinister environments. Techniques used by the authors, common to both stories with characterization and vivid descriptions of detestable settings, suspense is truly created by HG wells and Charles Dickens. In The Red Room, HG Wells thoroughly creates a very unpleasant, spooky and disturbing setting which leads to fear of the "ghosts". Even as the story begins, the presence of three "droning" old people with disfigured appearances suggests unpleasant happenings to come. Such an impression is well founded, especially with their disturbing descriptions. The phrase, "the man with the withered arm" implies infirmity, and age, the word withered being a very repulsive word which suggests the arm could be bent or shrunken also with an unpleasant pronunciation. ...read more.


A foreboding scene at the bottom of the cutting adds to the fear and tension. Like any gothic tale, the cutting is a small space with a "barbarous depressing air". Dickens has made good use of repetition here, making the place seem cruel and ideal for the bad happenings which now seem likely. But it is not only his visual surroundings which Dickens vividly describes. The cutting is said to have "an earthy deadly smell". Together the words "cutting" and "deadly" remind us of graves, which are linked to deaths, perfect for a gothic setting. The setting of the story also appeals to the sense of touch: the channel to the cutting is described as a "clammy stone." The use of such a word suggests the stone had a sweaty feel, bringing unpleasant textures to mind. As the narrator goes down towards the tunnel, it gets "oozier", so it gets worse as you go down, suggesting there is something terrible at the end: in the cutting. There is onomatopoeia in the word, and the rocks are made to feel alive, as they seem to be giving off a sticky liquid, as if they had a life of its own. ...read more.


One such example is when the narrator makes an attempt at rationality, saying that the voice of the spectre was only the "wild harp [the wind] makes of the telegraph wires". Such an attempt at rationalising the ghost only makes its existence surer, for how can our reliable signalman mistake a voice for the wind? In this way, Dickens cleverly destroys all possibility that there is not a ghost. In conclusion, both stories are seen to have created suspense and tension in innovative ways but it is probably the endings of these two stories which are the most interesting. For the signalman, the story is almost clear that there was a ghost since even the rational narrator admits it in the end, but there is some doubt with the red room. Some people may think that the ghost never existed and that everything is the crazy narrator's imagination but some other people may think that there was one, only it was invisible. But I think that there is obviously no ghost as HG Wells was a scientific man though there was a presence in the room since the candles went out in an unnatural way. A ghost story without a ghost, it could be said. Pre 1914 Prose Nicholas Niem ...read more.

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