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How do the two stories create an atmosphere of mystery and suspension? - 'The Signalman' and 'the Darkness Out There'.

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Introduction

How do the two stories create an atmosphere of mystery and suspension? Both 'The Signalman' and the Darkness Out There' create mystery and suspension and keep the reader wanting to read on. Charles Dickens builds mystery up right from the start of the story, 'The Signalman'. The opening line, 'Helloa! Below there!' creates a sense of mystery as you naturally want to read on and find out who, this someone (more mystery) is shouting at and the reasons why. By this opening, suspense is also created as there is no identification or names given and the exclamation marks show desperation and anxiety. As the opening line is on its own, only one line in the paragraph, this also gives us a sense of isolation, and that someone may be alone. As the person calls down to the signalman it takes him along time to reply creating suspension and tension and makes the reader want to read on and find out more. When Dickens writes, 'The deep trench' as the man looks down on the signalman this portrays in the readers' mind as hell and danger. 'The Signalman' was written in the Victorian times, 19th Century and trains were new at the time, so many people would be new to them and would be cautious whilst near them. ...read more.

Middle

'The Darkness out There' by Penelope Lively is different to 'The Signalman' in the way suspense is built up. The title straight away portrays a sense of mystery by using the word 'darkness' which gives the reader a sense of insecurity and mystery to what is going to happen. The story starts off peacefully and calm as it introduces the girl, Sandra, walking through the flowers and this helps put the reader in a relaxed state of mind. Lively then introduces the spinney to us, her description, 'The dark reach of the spinney', immediately tells the reader that there is something wrong with the spinney and that this mysterious place should be left alone. Line 29, has the name of the spinney, 'Packer's End', as a sentence on its own portraying to the reader that this is a place of isolation. Later on, Sandra meets up with a boy called Kerry Stevens as they are part of a club which help old people do some house jobs which they themselves may find difficult. The two of them go and visit an elderly woman called Mrs. Rutter. Lively describes Mrs Rutter as a 'cottage loaf of a women', which gives us the image of a warm, comforting old lady. Mrs Rutter uses affectionate language in the way she talks and refers to the two of them as 'Ducks', which gives the reader the image of a kind friendly person. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is a way that Lively uses to make us start to dislike Mrs Rutter. Mrs. Rutter did this evil thing as she was grieving the loss of her husband, and the fact she would never have children. She took this pain out on the innocent soldier. This showed that during the war there was a lot of hatred and prejudice towards the Germans because of so many people were losing loved ones even though the Germans were feeling and experiencing that as well. Mrs Rutter should have never have done that evil thing, as she wouldn't of wanted any one in Germany to do the same thing to her husband. Lively also uses delaying tactics as Dickens did. She describes Mrs Rutter and her sister seeing one man still alive, but they went back without helping him. Then later, after it had stopped raining, Mrs Rutter returns to find that the man is still alive but becoming weaker. She describes the man as a 'tough bastard', showing us that she actually wanted the man to die. This builds up more disgust towards Mrs Rutter within the reader. Again she refuses to help him. Then finally, she returns the next morning, to find him dead. This delaying tactic is an effective way of keeping us interested and reading on. The story ends with the short sentence 'Oh no', this makes the reader feel a sense of tension even after the story ends. ...read more.

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