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How Does Charles Dickens Use The Ghost Story Genre To Provoke Fear In Both The Victorian And Modern Reader Of "The Signalman"?

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How Does Charles Dickens Use The Ghost Story Genre To Provoke Fear In Both The Victorian And Modern Reader Of "The Signalman"? "Charles Dickens" is the author of "The Signalman"; this story is a pre 20th Century piece and is a horror story. People today may not find the story very frightening but when it was written, the Victorians would have taken to this horror much more understandably, due to the fact that technology like the train was all new and it changed the lifestyle of people. The train itself is quite a frightening figure; it is large, shoots out steam and makes quite a spine-chilling loud noise. Also, the train would have been the fastest means of transport at that time and it seemed very uncontrollable and dangerous to the Victorians. "The Signalman" is not a typical ghost story because it is set in the day. The railway is not exactly a typical ghost story setting either, which evokes the fear that it could happen to anyone. The first paragraph grabs the reader's attention by using dialogue the Narrator is shouting "Helloa! Below there!" The reader is dragged into the middle of what seems an interesting story. The Narrator is calling to a man standing at the door to his box, holding a flag in his hand rolled up against its short pole. ...read more.


It disappeared into thin air - this ghost was warning him, repeating " Helloa! Below there! Look out!" The ironic point is that the Narrator echoed these exact three words on their first meeting, giving the reader the thought that the two may be linked in some way. It also explains why the signalman didn't look at the Narrator when he called. This would make Victorians extremely scared, as they were very superstitious. Together with the fact that this railway setting would have been a modern setting for Victorian times, it was a bit like stepping into the unknown. After the Narrator tried to talk to the signalman out of his beliefs, the signalman said "Within six hours after the appearance, the memorable accident happened, and within ten hours the dead and wounded were brought along the tunnel over the spot where the figure had stood". This would most probably provoke more fear into a modern reader, the Victorians were superstitious and so afraid of haunting but were most probably used to death. Nowadays, people have improved technology and so less train crashes; it makes a modern reader scared when a remarkable coincidence involves death. The spectre returned again several months later but did not speak. It was in the position of someone mourning with its hands on its face. ...read more.


The signalman has another epiphany where he is baffled that Tom repeats the words from the signalman himself and the same gesture he had imitated. This end part of the story is where it all comes together and makes more sense. The reader now knows that they were wrong to think that someone else would be killed; the signalman was being warned to save himself! The other railway workers were saddened to lose such a good signalman. The engine 'cut' him down. Cut is a very powerful word and very intense. Tom called out and made the same actions as the spectre, the signalman and the Narrator. This is ironic and makes it clear that the three are linked. Both Victorian and modern readers would be overwhelmed by the outcome of the situation and would be scared (especially Victorians) by the fact it was daytime, making it believable that it could happen to anyone. On the whole, I think this story is first-class because of the way it is written. We learn things as the Narrator learns them (first hand). The reader may think that the story is all explained, but somewhere, in the back of their minds, they will be asking, "Why did the signalman not move out of the way of the train?" ?? ?? ?? ?? GCSE English Literature Coursework Mrs Hughes Shahzun Miah 1 11LDM ...read more.

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