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How does Dickens create a sense of mystery in 'The Signal Man'?

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How does Dickens create a sense of mystery in 'The Signal Man'? Within 'The Signal Man' Dickens uses various literary techniques to involve the reader and create a sense of mystery. This includes the use of Characters; Setting; Dialogue; the engaging of senses; sight; smell; taste; touch; and hearing. The inclusion of ghosts; action; the build up of tension and contrasts between the rational and the supernatural world and light and dark. One of Dickens literary techniques was using the characters (the narrator and the Signal man's) similarities and differences. Both the Signal Man and the narrator were both well educated. Although the narrator is perhaps more intelligent, as his language reveals a wider, '...the perspective one way only a crooked prolongation...'. However the narrator believes the Signal Man is equally intelligent, the narrator comments that the Signal Man is '...educated above his station...'. They both had immense respect for each other, just like any other human. The narrator was extremely polite towards the Signal Man, which also demonstrates the respect narrator has for him. The Signal Man was very isolated he sat down in his hut night after night most nights, he felt lonely, 'His post was in a solitary and dismal place as ever I saw'. ...read more.


Dialogue has a fair role in the story it controlled a vast amount of the exposition, it introduces the two main characters and adds to the setting of the scene, though the narrator's thoughts largely build the scene up. There are only a few large gaps without dialogue between the characters. Dickens benefits from his use of the human senses to perplex the reader and create the impression of mystery. The beginning of the short story applies the sense of hearing. At the start of the story it informs the reader that the narrator is calling to the Signal Man. 'halloa! Below!' this is the initiating feeling of enigma as the narrator. '...would have thought, considering the nature of the ground, that he could not have doubted from what quarter the voice came....' The narrator carries on in explaining that, '...instead of looking up to where I stood on the steep cutting nearly over his head he turned himself about and looked down the line...' .the narrator is astounded at this 'There was something remarkable', he thinks. This introduction then merges into the sense sight. Dickens describes the Signal Man's bodily movements to reinforce his actions providing more to the bazaar circumstances, Dickens uses pathetic fallacy as he describes an '...angry sunset...' ...read more.


The Signal Man explains to the narrator that he saw an appearance then an 'accident on the line happened,' and about 'the dead and the wounded,' this all adds tension to the situation as the plot thickens, and the recognition of esoteric grows. In a traditional short story the plot often begins, moves up a slope of increasing excitement or suspense, reaches a point of climax and then quickly descends and ends. In the short story 'The Signal Man' I would say the moment of climax occurs when the narrator takes a 'stroll' and sees 'the appearance of a man,' he describes, 'the thrill that seized upon me' and the, 'nameless horror that oppressed me.' He then inquires 'what is the matter,' and the man replies informing the narrator that the Signal Man was, 'killed this morning, sir.' After the climax there is usually some kind of resolution, however in my opinion there is no satisfactory resolution as the narrator asks, 'how did this happen?' The train driver explains and it is left with that after the narrator finally says that he doesn't want to 'dwell on any one of these curios circumstances. Through this ending Dickens involves the reader encouraging them to come to their own conclusion and invent their own resolution. Ultimately it leaves us with a1 sense of mystery. 1 Alice Renouf-Donaldson ...read more.

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