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I will be looking at "The Signal-Man" by Charles Dickens and "Farthing House" by Susan Hill.

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John Mason 10PY English Coursework: Wider reading In this piece of coursework I will be looking at and comparing two ghost stories- one pre 20th century (before 1914) and the other after the 20th century (after 1914) I will be looking at "The Signal-Man" by Charles Dickens and "Farthing House" by Susan Hill. "The Signal-Man" is about a man who finds a signal-man down in the train tunnel, he yells to him and goes to meet him. He begins to talk to the signal-man and finds out that he sees 'spectres'. He goes away. And comes back again and learns more about the spectre and that the spectre is trying to warn him when a crash is near or some accident. The next time the man comes the signal-man is dead, killed by jumping in front of a train. "Farthing House" is about a woman who goes to visit her Aunt Addy at 'Farthing House'. She visits her Aunt and decides to stay at the house over night and she stays in a room named 'cedar'. She starts to hear a newborn baby crying. She keeps on hearing this baby crying, but does not say anything. She then sees a young woman in her room; she tries to follow her but loses her in the hallway. One time when she is walking in the gardens she sees a graveyard- one in particular, the young girl and her baby. She then finds out that back then more babies died at birth and so did some mothers, she is very upset. The entire story was written in a letter to somebody. When we think of the ghost story genre we think of big houses, ghosts, bad weather, storms, vulnerable people, sceptics. ...read more.


Once again there is no reference to the relationship in this period in the story. But from historical fact we know those post of the 20th century the treatment of women, men and children got a lot better and also servants were in less need. Also by looking at the artefacts around the characters we can determine if it were pre or post 20th century. From "Farthing House" the artefacts clearly tell us that it is post 20th century. For instance: "the long drive"-car, Residential home (they did not have them in the 1800's), old fashioned -must mean it is post 20th century or it would be modern, Television, telephone. These are some elements that we can use to find out whether a ghost story is pre or post 20th century. First of all I will analyse "The Signal-Man" I will look at key points how tension is built up, atmosphere, characters, and setting. In "The Signal-Man" Charles Dickens built up the tension by writing about how afraid the signal-man was. We can see this when the signal-man says to him "And when you come down tomorrow don't call out" and also "I detected in his eyes some latent fear" As the conversation continues it is broken into a series of short questions and leaves us, the audience, without explanations or answers. Also the usage of exclamation marks and the short sentences shows us that he is afraid. The fact that we are not told why builds up a strong tension. '"I believe I used to be so," he rejoined, in a low voice in which he had first spoken, "but I am troubled sir, I am troubled"' this is an example of the questions unanswered. ...read more.


When we look at both the stories we can see some similarities and some differences. Some similarities in the two stories are: * that they both have a ghost/spectre in them, * they are set in isolated locations * they both have characters who can see or have seen the ghost/spectre * we know little about the characters * the ghost represents the shape of a person There are also some similarities between pre 20th century and post 20th century: * The signal-man is afraid of the spectre, were as the woman in "Farthing House" is not afraid of the ghost. * In "The Signal-Man" there is a stranger who visits him, in "Farthing House" there is not So as you see there are more similarities in the two stories than in differences. So even though one is post 20th century and the other is pre 20th century there are not that many differences from the stories. Then authors have followed the typical ghost story rules, the similarities are things like isolation, ghosts and so on, and these are in typical ghost stories. So after looking at and reading the two stories I would have to say that I enjoyed "The Signal-Man" much more. I say "The Signal-Man" because it has a very intense build up for the ghost and also it was well written. And "Farthing House" spoilt the story and the ghost did not frighten the woman. I think that "The Signal-Man" would have been more popular or successful for two reasons. One being it is a much better story line and is more psychological and the second being the fact it was written by Charles Dickens who is noted as a brilliant writer. So overall I think that "The Signal-Man" is the better of the two stories, because of its believable story line and psychological fear than "Farthing House". ...read more.

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