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

How does Dickens create tension in “The Signalman”?

Extracts from this document...


Laura Foxwell: English Course work How does Dickens create tension in "The Signalman"? Creation of tension in the opening of the story; Tension is created through setting and character. The setting of the story is a deep railway embankment with a large dark tunnel. The Signalman lives alone in a small hut with little but a fire and bed inside. He has a wary manner. This creates an atmosphere of danger and fear. When the Signalman has a visit from an unknown character he is suspicious. He suspects that the visitor is the super natural appearance that he keeps meeting hence his strange reaction. This creates tension and an atmosphere of foreboding. The Signalman and the Visitor are the main characters in the story. When the Signalman starts to tell his own story about the sightings he keeps seeing, the Visitor is intrigued. He is a caring person, who may have been enclosed in some way himself, maybe in a monastery and so he relates to the Signalman's situation well. Dickens establishes tension when describing the setting. He describes the tunnel that is near his hut almost like a prison. ...read more.


Later in the story we see contrast between the Signalman and the powerful trains. The Signalman is seen to be a caring and kind man, which is juxtapose of the violent powerful trains and the accidents they cause. When the Signalman first hears the Visitor call out to him he doesn't look up at him, "He looked down along the railway line". Which suggests the Signalman thinks it is the voice of the spectre calling out to him. This builds tension as we see the confusion of the Signalman and the misunderstood thoughts of the Visitor who is watching the Signalman's actions. The Signalman's behaviour builds tension elsewhere. The Signalman continuously keeps looking at the mechanical bell for no apparent reason. Dickens wrote "He twice broke off with a fallen colour, turned his face towards the little bell when it did not ring, opened the door and looked out towards the red light. We don't know why the Signalman does this and wonder what he can sense. The suspense of not knowing creates tension. We see tension in the short story in one of the conversations between the Visitor and the Signalman. ...read more.


Each time the words "Halloa! Below there! "Are repeated they become even more chilling. These words are coincidentally the words that the engine driver uses and the words that haunt the Signalman. The many delays add tension to the story because they increase suspense, therefore increasing tension When the Visitor finally gets to see the appearance he seems pleased. We are told that the Visitor "Could not describe the thrill" Of seeing the appearance. He is pleased as now he can help the Signalman and also he can relate to the Signalman's story. This builds tension as we know every time the spectre appears an accident follows. This is broken when the Visitor sees the spectre. The ending of the book is very straightforward compared to the rest of the short story, though the mystery is not over. When the Visitor talks to the engine driver, he says, "Signalman killed". This short answer easily and quickly describes what has happened. I think the stories' setting is a key factor, the deep railway line is an excellent setting for this story. The characters nervousness and anxiety influences the reader's suspense. The speech used by the characters reflects their feelings to the reader. These points combined all create tension in Charles Dickens "The Signalman". ...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?'

    The stranger asks, if the man he was mistaken for, looked like him, but the only description he had of this mysterious figure was 'The left arm is across the face, and the right arm is waved, -violently waved.' shouting 'for god sake clear the way.'

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

    The reader and the man don't' know what the response is going to be. His manner is described as "seemed to make the place strike colder to me, but I said no more". He describes his character weirdly as it happens which adds suspense, because the reader is thinking that he may be the ghost.

  1. The Signalman

    to get involved, also the story only ever takes place within the cutting. Is this so none of the tension is lost? "But I expressly intend to make you another visit". The two men meet both times at the bottom of the cutting at night "I will come at eleven".

  2. Pre 1914 Prose:Coursework “The black cottage”

    Where these two real people or where they ghosts or spirits I found myself asking this was of course a ghost story so could these be spirits in which the story evolves around. From reading the first page or so Dickens misleads you into thinking that maybe the signalman himself was a spirit of some kind or a supernatural being.

  1. How does Dickens create an unnerving atmosphere of suspense and tension in "The Signalman"?

    However, in my opinion this is the perfect foundation to build upon more tension and suspense, as that is what Dickens' deliberately plants so that the reader is captured and hooked to the story. The Signalman's Behaviour. Though out the story, Dickens' convinces us that the Signalman is troubled as he acts unnaturally and strangely.

  2. Compare and Contrast the ways in which Charles Dickens and Ray Bradbury create Tension ...

    We can see that neither character genuinely trusts the other, however the narrator is intrigued into the strange manners of the signalman, which also trigger suspense in the story. Throughout reading the story more and more is revealed about the signalman, and how he believes he is being haunted and

  1. Examine the ways in which Charles Dickens builds suspense in 'The Signalman'

    It may be the work of the supernatural. The next night, even though the signalman is sure of the appearances of the spectre, the visitor seems wary and rather cynical, always trying to find excuses. Despite this scepticism, he is still described as, 'resisting the slow touch of a finger tracing out my spine' This shows that he

  2. "The short story is the ideal form for writers who want to create a ...

    The narrators attempts to rationalize and his ultimate inability to do so is seen in the final paragraph through "but also the words which I myself - not he - had attached, and that only in my own mind, to the gesticulation he had imitated."

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