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How does Charles Dickens create suspense and tension in the signalman?

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Introduction

English coursework The signal man. How does Charles Dickens create suspense and tension in the signalman? In the Charles Dickens' story the narrator meets the signalman who is confessing to him his problems. The narrator comes every night to find out that the signalman was seeing a ghost of a man, who was pointing out that certain train accidents are going to happen. After a few days the narrator goes peacefully to the signalman's shed, and finds out that he mysteriously died. The signalman at the train station sees sightings of a ghost in the distance. However the figure is trying to tell the signalman something important, but each time the signalman sees this figure doing some actions something bad always happens, this is where Dickens creates the suspense and tension. To add to the tension Dickens adds a narrator to the story, this is done to emphasise various points more and to spook the audience out. The suspense and tension is created in various different ways I am going to explore these factors: the characters, the setting of the place and the time at which incidents happen. The very first line spoken by the narrator is negative, and puts thoughts into our minds about bad things happening because it portrays the fact about height and if something is down, it makes it seem very mysterious: "Halloa! ...read more.

Middle

So the narrator wonders whether or not the signalman is a ghost: "That this was a spirit" That was the narrator's first instinct but later on in the paragraph he is relieved to have realised that the signalman was just scared of him, because he had thought that he had seen him before, near the red light. This idea of the red light makes us think of danger, and red lights are only indicated when something bad is about to happen so this adds to the tension of the story for the audience reading it. As the narrator and signalman begin to have a conversation we start to find out more about the signalman and his character, this also adds to the suspense and tension of the story, because the characters make the story. The signalman is devoted to his job, nothing means more to him than his occupation, and he is a perfectionist everything he does has to be perfect: "Exact and vigilant" The signalman would even leave a conversation halfway or stop what he was doing and attend his work. Once he had completed it he would then come back and carry on with what he was previously doing. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens splits the story into three meetings and the third one being when the narrator goes back to find out that the signalman is dead; this is the twist to the story because it is very unexpected. Each of the two meetings has a climax point to it but nothing ever happens and this is very effective because it makes the audience anxious, because they want to know what happens next. The meeting involves the signalman telling him about the "spectre" that he sees in the tunnel. In conclusion I think that Dickens has created the suspense and tension in this story very well. He has kept a few themes throughout the story such as dark, danger and red which symbolises the fact that something bad is going to happen. Also Dickens focuses on the "down" theme like everything is below this could be the fact that a grave is deep and you have to look down into it. So all through this story until the end we have this image of bad things happening but they never actually happen, until the twist at the end when the narrator comes back and finds out the signalman is dead. So the whole story is built up to this ending, this is where the suspense and tension adds to the affect of the story. Saira Hamid ...read more.

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