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How do the writers of 'The Red Room' and 'The Signalman' create fear and tension in the reader?

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English Coursework How do the writers of 'The Red Room' and 'The Signalman' create fear and tension in the reader? Both stories are examples of gothic horror, although 'The Red Room' is a more typical model. I say this due to the several gothic elements included in the story. One example of a typical gothic element is the inclusion of a pursued protagonist. In The Red Room, the protagonist is quite a stereotypical type as at the beginning of the story he totally rejects the idea of anything supernatural..." Eight and twenty years, I have lived, and never a ghost have I seen as yet". Then, by the end of the story he is being 'bullied' by darkness and runs away in fright! Another typical element of gothic horror used in this story is an emphasis on terrifying the reader. Throughout the story the author lays emphasis on terror by including many scary moments. One example of a scary moment is when the protagonist is walking to the red room. On the way through the corridors he sees something that appears to be crouching down. At first the reader thinks that there is someone there to attack the protagonist. Further on though you realise that it is just a simple Ganymede and Eagle statue. Another example of emphasis on terror used on the reader is shown when the protagonist is in the red room and the candles unexplainably go out one by one. This leads the protagonist and reader through a frantic couple of minutes in which he tries to relight the candles that had gone out. A further typical element of gothic horror is the use of archaic settings. In horror stories, archaic settings include settings such as castles, monasteries, dungeons and medieval architecture which are very much used to create a disturbing and tense atmosphere. In 'The Red Room' the setting is in a castle, which is very old. ...read more.


On the other hand, the tension in 'The Signalman' is intermittent which is the sort of tension structure that has no particular flow and has 'breaks'. Right at the beginning of the story, the traveller looks down towards the signal man who reacts very strangely. The purpose of this point could be to mislead the reader into thinking that the signalman is someone scary and abnormal. As the story continues, the traveller observes many things about the signalman. He concludes that he is very good at his job. This basic analysis on the signalman makes him seem like the 'good guy', which is important as it allows more sympathy for him when he dies. Further on in the story, the signalman talks of his doubts of the traveller because of the calling 'Holloa! Below there! The waving and the red light. The purpose of this in the story is the linkage of different sections of the story as well as creating a mysterious link between the natural world and the super natural. At this point the reader should be further inclined into the story, which sets the tempo at a high point. As the story advances the tension begins to get to one of its highest points. This is when the signalman hints at something which is troubling him, but wont mention what the troublesome factor is. The reason for this point being very high in tension is that the reader is intrigued and curious and wants to know what it is that's troubling the signalman. As the story carries on, the traveller leaves the signalman for the night. This provides a brief relief from the tension, which becomes low once more. However, as the story continues, with the traveller meeting the signalman once more the tension begins to rise yet again. The reason for this dramatic increase in tempo is that the signalman finally tells the traveller the chilling tale of the ghost by the tunnel and the accidents that are linked to its warnings. ...read more.


Another example of personification is used to describe the shadow of a candle being blown out, "Its shadow fell". Another use of personifying the shadows in this story is displayed when the protagonist relights one of the candles, "The black shadow sprang back to its place". The shadows have almost taken on a life of their own and pursue the protagonist to the last, "The shadows seem to take another step towards me". The personification of shadows builds up until the protagonist is eventually enclosed and engulfed in the shadows. The description of the signalman's 'lonesome' post, through its language, help to create further tension and fear within the reader. The phrase, "dripping wet wall of jagged stone" includes words that are usually associated with hell or a grave. I think, between the two stories, the signalman has more relevance to people today. The dilemma facing the signalman is a psychological one. To be more specific, the signalman is faced with the sighting of a spectore. Each time he sees the spectore, it warns him of an oncoming accident. The daunting prospect of this predicament is that the signalman basically carries the burden of many peoples life on his shoulders; this is because he says he cannot tell people of the warnings and troubles of his situation as they might think he was insane. I think that in today's times, many people may be able relate to the signalman's psychological imprisonment. This is because in these times, many people may be able to relate to these psychological issues. Of course these issues may root from problems such as loneliness, drug addiction and so on rather than ghost sighting. However, the root of the Signalman's issues come from him believing, that if he told anyone, they would not believe him and could may as well think that he was insane. We can say that this case of loneliness and feeling of other people not understanding is a vital psychological blow to the signalman and very relevant to people even today who don't know where to turn for help. ?? ?? ?? ?? 2 1 ...read more.

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