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In the three Gothic Horror stories studied, how does each writer's description of the setting help to establish the appropriate atmosphere?

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Introduction

In the three Gothic Horror stories studied, how does each writer's description of the setting help to establish the appropriate atmosphere? Gothic Horror stories were a popular genre during the 18th and 19th century, writers used common themes and settings such as graveyards, death or castles to make the reader feel the building up of the tension. The setting of the story was important as it helped the reader establish the correct atmosphere in order to prepare them for what was to come later in the story. Writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells are well known for their short gothic stories, which in turn have many unique techniques to establish the appropriate atmosphere and the building of tension. In their gothic stories you would find typical gothic settings such as, secret rooms, Castle, ghost and superstition. The setting of their stories may also be mysterious and suspenseful. 'The Masque of the Red Death' by Edgar Allen Poe takes place in a 'castellated abbey' of the 'happy, dauntless and sagacious' Prince Prospero. The story is about the red death which is alleged to be tuberculosis and is also closely linked to the idea of segregation during mid-nineteenth century America, where they underwent a period of isolation from Europe. The castle is described as an 'extensive and magnificent structure', with 'gates of iron' which is symbolic as Prince Prospero thinks that it will keep death away from himself and his 1000 friends. ...read more.

Middle

It is about how a signalman twice sees a spectre before a major accident. A man passes the cutting and the signalman mistakes him to be the spectre. He confides in the narrator (the passing man) who in turn suggests that they were just coincidence. In the end, it is clear that the spectre was warning the signalman of his own death which occurred while he was working near the tunnel. Down below the drop of the cutting there are railway tracks and a hut, where the feeling of isolation is felt strongly. Both ends of the cutting is covered by the nothingness of the tunnels, never is there much light but at the night all is dark. Eerie noises can be heard and terrifying shadows are cast giving the reader a feeling of a deadly end! Dickens, like Poe, uses strong language throughout the story, causing the readers mind to be able to imagine the setting and therefore scaring them like intended. 'On either side, a dripping-wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky' this phrase gives the reader the impression of no way out, it's almost like hell. Continuously throughout the story the colours red and black, like the masque of the red death, is mentioned creating suspense and establishing the atmosphere of death! ...read more.

Conclusion

Black is bought into the story through the darkness both in the passage and in the room itself. H.G Wells has been successful in being able to create an appropriate atmosphere by the use of his powerful language creating many strong images in the reader's mind, which is an aid to helping them understand the setting and environment of the story. In a gothic horror story it is very important for the right atmosphere to be created in order to get the reader to feel scared and to have the build up of tension. In each of these three stories just that has been done, with the use of colour, complex language, strong imagery and lighting the reader is able to feel the steady build up of anxiety and fear as they read through the stories. Fear is present in all three stories which is a key element to any gothic story; this is because when fear is present within the reader's mind, it helps to build the tension as only a reader knows what they are scared of so within the darkness they see their own fear. Lastly what is also reflected in the three gothic stories is the Victorian attraction to the idea of superstition and the impossibility of ever knowing what is real, making the reader make up their own mind about the mystery that surrounds the setting. ?? ?? ?? ?? Tasnim Rahman ...read more.

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