• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Charles Dickens create and sustain suspense in his story "The Signalman"?

Extracts from this document...


"The Signalman" by Charles Dickens How does Charles Dickens create and sustain suspense in his story "The Signalman"? "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens first appeared in the 1866 Christmas edition of the Charles Dickens magazine called "All the year round". "The Signalman" is a nineteenth century ghost story, however it is different from the traditional stories of this time, which have settings in graveyards and haunted houses and the ghosts come to punish past misdeeds for example in "The Christmas Coral" instead of warning a future advent which was thought by the Victorians to have no purpose. This story for the time has a high tech setting in a railway cutting and is described by Dickens to be "Extremely deep and unusually precipitate". It was probably set in Clayton Tunnel under the South Downs where a deadly accident occurred in 1861. Trains were still novel and exciting in the 1860's but many people were wary of them including Charles Dickens. ...read more.


He describes the signalman as "One the safest of men to be employed in that capacity." However the story also concentrates on the loneliness of the signalman's work place and the effect, which this has on his mental well-being. This is one of the themes of the story and from the reaction of the signalman to the visitor, which is quoted below it, is clear that he is not used to company. "Instead of looking up to where I stood on the top of the cutting nearly over his head he turned himself about and looked down the line". We learn later that there is another reason for the signalman's strange behaviour, which introduces another theme of the supernatural. There are only two characters in "the Signalman" but under no means does this make the story boring, as they are both very different. The signalman himself is surprisingly well educated as we learn that "He had taught himself a language" and "Had also worked at fractions and decimals, and tried a little algebra." ...read more.


It is very very difficult to speak of. If ever you make me another visit I will try to tell you" this makes the reader keep on reading to find out what is troubling him and how the story develops. However the biggest area of suspense is made by the spectre and doesn't end until the very last page. In conclusion "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens is a story of supernatural and suspense. Throughout the whole story the reader is kept guessing, first about the signalman's strange behaviour then about the victim after the third appearance of the spectre. I expected the signalman to find out why the spectre appeared for the third time and then to stop the accident from happening, however at the very end of the story the visitor as well as the reader finds out that the victim is actually the signalman himself which leaves the reader feeling stunned, sad and in a way spooked out. Being given little bits of information at a time like the present day TV soaps helps create this suspense. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Signalman section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Signalman essays

  1. How does Charles Dickens create suspense and fear in 'The Signalman?'

    Although, he can't because he knows that no-one would believe him. Through the time they had met, they had also built a trust friendship The narrator knows that this man is the best at his job, so he didn't want to take him to the doctors because they might say

  2. Pre 20th Century Prose- A Christmas Carol and The Signalman.

    On the same page it says there was a "gloomy red light, and the gloomier entrance to a black, in whose massive architecture there was a barbourus, depressing, and forbidding air". This area seems to be abandoned, where only the trains keep the signalman company.

  1. How does Dickens create suspense in

    This speech is proved to be very significant later on in the story. Dickens uses the direct speech; in the first person as this creates a little awareness. If the story were written in third person, Dickens would perhaps have to describe the person speaking, their surroundings and how they felt.

  2. How does Dickens create suspense in

    Just before he goes down the cutting an unknown vibration shakes the ground "Vague vibration in the earth and air" He also uses a lot of effective adjectives like "Violent pulsation" this captures the senses and adds to the tension.

  1. How does Dickens create suspense in 'The Signalman'?

    This novel was set in the nineteenth century, a time when supernatural powers were still believable, so someone who was reading 'The Signalman' at the time would arguably feel more tension, because the story could have elements of truth in it.

  2. How does Dickens create suspense in

    Why are they speaking? And who are they speaking to?'. Dickens writes the opening in such a way that the reader can interpret the plot in several ways. This is a trend that continues through the whole story. The one speaking, the narrator, is shouting to another character that doesn't reply.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work