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How is the Atmosphere of Mystery and Suspense built up in the two short stories? 'The Signal Man' and Napoleon and the Spectre?

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Introduction

TITLE: How is the Atmosphere of Mystery and Suspense built up in the two short stories? 'The Signal Man' and Napoleon and the Spectre? Both of the stories are very gripping and keep you in apprehension throughout When it comes to ghost stories, both hold the general key to a first-class story, mystery. They both take a slow approach to getting to the main climax, which encourages you to keep reading. When making a scary film, it is a lot easier to make a viewer scared as you can use music, sound effects, surprise elements and many other attributions, however, when writing a book the whole approach seems to be completely different. The writers have no special effects or music to entice the reader, so they use very strong expressions and describe the scenery enough for you to feel you are actually there and have a picture of the scene in your mind. This also gives your imagination the chance to play a part which can sometimes be the more elaborate and chilling in design then the original description. The stories have similarities between them in many areas. A main Joining point between the two is the fact that they both only have a small number of characters. This is better as you can follow the stories easily and pay more attention to the detail given. ...read more.

Middle

It is similar to how they portray them in movies In 'The Signalman' the only information they give you about the ghost is the position he stands in. 'The left arm is across the face, and the right arm is waved'. As they give you such little description of the ghost it adds another tinge of mystery to the story, as your mind is left to wonder, along with your imagination. The ghost in Napoleon and the Spectre acts as a guide that is a rather traditional part for a ghost to play in these kinds of stories. However the ghost in the Signalman has come to warm him about something, which is an unusual concept of a ghost. This makes the ghost strange and unpredictable, which again contributes to the build up of the story. In Each story only a small amount of characters were involved. The Characters in a story sometimes add to the fear, in 'The Signalman' I found this to be very true. One of the main characters was the Narrator, a very normal educated and well-mannered man. He seems to be very inquisitive so when he asks the signalman what bothers him and the signalman tells him about the ghost, at first he puts it down to the 'deception of sight' even though he is clearly unnerved by being told this 'A disagreeable shudder crept over me, but I did my best against it.' ...read more.

Conclusion

'Silence, if thou wouldst escape instant death.'' Charlotte Bronte sets the scene however by adding in small, but significant descriptions 'The Emperor felt his pillow becoming rather hard... He was disturbed by a sensation of thirst...' The Fact that the Emperor is uneasy and unable to sleep due to hearing noises builds up a lot of fear. She takes her time setting the scene, which adds to the suspense and mystery. The endings of the stories are completely different. The ending in Napoleon and The Spectre was quite traditional, where it all turned out to be a dream. In a way this gives a rather weak ending compared to The Signalman, as this ends with a twist and keeps your mind thinking and wondering even after you have finished reading the book. Ending with it all being a dream is like taking the easy way out. In conclusion I would say overall both stories were brilliant, However, I did prefer The Signalman by Charles Dickens to, Napoleon and the Spectre by Charlotte Bronte. I found the suspense and twists in the Signalman to be more enticing compared to a dream. Charlotte Bronte was only seventeen when she wrote this story so it would be fair to say that she was not as experienced as Charles Dickens at that time, which could be the reason why her story was less successful. Despite this when it came to building suspense and mystery both fulfilled this, which made the stories come to life, and I enjoyed reading both stories immensely. ...read more.

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