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How is tension and suspense built up and maintained in at least two Gothic horror stories?

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Introduction

How is tension and suspense built up and maintained in at least two Gothic horror stories? The genre of Gothic Horror was developed during 19th and early 20th century and had a popular appeal to the new middle class people who sought entertainment. Gothic Horror has common characteristics of suspense, fear and would often include a rational, scientifically minded character who fails to heed warnings. Gothic horror tales often have exotic and mythical influences. The night and the unreassuring lack of light play a big part in adding to the hellish imagery. One of the key ways that tension is built up in gothic horror stories is through the setting, For example, "The Red Room" is set is an old dark castle. It is quite remote. Tension is built up with the portrayal of the "long draughty subterranean passage" which eventually leads to "that large sombre room"; the effect of such a setting is to give a feeling of impending doom. ...read more.

Middle

Like "The Red Room" the story is told in the first person. However, the protagonist in "The Red Room" is logical and rational, yet na�ve: "I can assure you... it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me". The narrator of "The Telltale Heart" sets up the tension in the opening line, "rue! Nervous, very, very dreadful..." Odd characters such as this narrator help build up suspense and are very often used in gothic horror. "The Monkey's Paw" uses the same device. The Sergeant Major is very odd, he has just returned from India with an old Monkey's paw. He is described as "beady of eye", giving him a bird like quality. The old people in "The Red Room" create an uneasy atmosphere: "I must confess that the oddness of these old pensioners affected me in spite of my efforts to keep myself". "The nameless "man with the withered arm" adds a sinister touch by his repetition of the phrase "it's your choosing". ...read more.

Conclusion

The tension builds but then is eased by the moonlight and candle revealing the true nature of each object. Light or lack of it, also helps build tension in the gothic horror genre. There will rarely be day light in any gothic horror story. In "The Monkey's Paw" "the wintry sun" in the morning encouraged Mr White to "laugh at his fears." .This also gives the reader a false sense of security, whilst keeping them in suspense. "I opened my eyes in day light" brings relief to the inceasing tension of the night spent in the red room yet we are warned that fear can be felt "even in day time" Minimal light is used to a sinister effect, in "The Telltale Heart" a single thin ray, fell upon the vulture eye." This is a strong image as we are told the room was "black as pitch", thus the strand of light dircted by the murderer is all the more vivid. The ray of light is also described as "like the thread of the spider". This image is appropriate since the light is shone its victim. ...read more.

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