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How does Dickens build up a sense of mystery in The Signalman?

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Introduction

How does Dickens build up a sense of mystery in The Signalman? The Signalman is a story based on the expansion and proliferation of railways in the early days of the 19th Century. The time in which this was written was during a great technological and social change. Travel was made easier, with great introduction of social interaction. There was also great interest with the supernatural at the time. People began to question their faiths and orthodox religions and were beginning to wear. This sort of advances in culture made good grounds in which Dickens could engage with the readers and exploit their faiths. Dickens uses and exploits he culture around him in order to convince and draw the reader into The Signalman. The way in which he does this is through several techniques which build up suspense, mystery and tension in The Signalman. The Signalman begins with a brief description of the setting. The Narrator is starting to begin his journey of descent downwards. The use of language is chosen very carefully in order to achieve Dickens' desired effects on the reader. ...read more.

Middle

He uses the several references to the senses of the Human body. Touch, smell, sight and hearing are made reference to in order to draw the reader into the story. "...dripping wet wall of jagged stone", "deadly smell", "gloomy red light". These are direct references to not only the readers senses but also to a more supernatural nature. This creates an unnerving ambiance which helps the reader become more immersed in the theme of mystery. The impact of the action in The Signalman combines with the structure of the story. The first encounter within the story sees the narrator "descend" into the dark world of the Signalman. This is when his confidence in his rationality is tested and undermined. When the narrator descends for a second time, his rationality becomes questioned once more. This time, it is derived from dialogue between the Narrator and The signalman. "Resisting the slow touch of a frozen finger down my spine". This is reference to how the Narrator is beginning to feel during the dialogue. ...read more.

Conclusion

Later though, the fluidity of the dialogue reflects a growing trust between the characters. This trust, however, also indicates that the two different worlds which the characters inhabit, the narrators world of 2light" and rationality, is beginning to merge with the signalman's "darker" world of the supernatural, or unknown. The intermingling, then, of the rational world of the narrator and the "supernatural" world of the Signalman serves ultimately to undermine the faith that the narrator has in his own rationality. "that only in my mind, to the gesticulation he had imitated." Also, perhaps, this makes it more difficult for the reader not to believe and engage in the fears and the nature of the misgivings of the signalman. The Signalman is a story which is based on the proliferation and the development of Railroads. This is also the merge of the different class types. Perhaps Dickens was trying to use this class system of working and middle class and show in The Signalman that there is little difference between the two and both are closer together than it is perceived in life. This is the grounds which Dickens uses and is able to relate and engage to the reader and make them more immersed into the story. ...read more.

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