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In this essay, I will define how, I think, Dickens creates tension and suspense in this short, ghost story titled, 'The Signalman'.

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Introduction

In this essay, I will define how, I think, Dickens creates tension and suspense in this short, ghost story titled, 'The Signalman'. 'The Signalman' was written in the 1863, during the era when the Victorians had a fascination with the paranormal. The other famous ghost story that dickens wrote, was written shortly before this time, 'A Christmas Carol'. This era was important to the reasoning behind why one of the most renowned novelists wrote a ghost story such as this. There were also many scientific and technological advances, which contradicted most of the ideas faced in 'The Signalman'. Nevertheless, maybe some of these points helped this story to be so successful. This, as one of the most famous short stories of the nineteenth century, was written by one of the most famous authors of the nineteenth century, Charles Dickens. He is not however, renowned for his short stories, but as a contrast, known for such novels as 'Oliver Twist,' 'Our mutual Friend' and 'A Tale of Two Cities'. 'The Signalman' was written in the first person, as was 'David Copperfield' and 'Great Expectations', as if he was the narrator. The audience, if for the same purpose as his other work, was written for publication, in a magazine, newspaper or book for publication. 'The Signalman' is primarily about a Signalman who works on the railway, within a deep cutting in the hills. The Signalman's occupation secludes him from normal life. A passer-by, who is in fact the narrator in this story, tries to contact the Signalman, who is at the door of his box, but he gets a strange, and delayed reply. ...read more.

Middle

At first, we do not know what he is describing, until the train is mentioned it is described as being almost supernatural. Dickens writes this well using very descriptive adjectives such as: 'vague', 'violent', and 'rapid'. His word use in this section is also admirable, using words such as 'pulsation', 'vibration', 'rose', 'skimming' and 're-furling'. Describing a train going by in such detail invites readers to read on, to see of what relevance the train is to the tale. The tunnel entrance described as having "a barbarous, depressing and forbidding air"; it also has a "deadly smell". The direction of the tunnel terminated in a "gloomy red light", and a "gloomier entrance to a black tunnel", like a "great dungeon". There are only two characters in the story until the last couple of paragraphs, (apart from the ghost). The fact that there are only two characters - the narrator, and the signalman - in the majority of the story brings a sense of tension; it makes each of their one-on-one conversations even more engrossing. Before beginning to read the story, you know that the signalman will be a very important part, as it is the title of the short story. His actions at the start of the story immediately give the reader the impression that something strange or supernatural is occurring. "...I saw that he was standing between the rails on the way by which the train had lately passed, in an attitude as if he were waiting for me to appear. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens upholds the tension and suspense throughout the tale. In speech, when the two characters converse with each other, they ask each other many questions. Some are from the narrator to the signalman, some are from the signalman to the narrator and some are from the narrator to him self. These all raise suspense, (especially in the beginning) and most of the questions are left unanswered. His use of short sharp speech or short sentences between the two also adds unease to the situation. Dickens also frequently states the fact when the signalman is speaking in a low voice. He also repeats some phrases or uses similar phrases which give the same meaning, such as "left the natural world" with "conveyed to you in any supernatural way?" Another example of this is "For God sake, clear the way", this is repeated three times, once in the first and then in the second accident and then penultimately in the final climax. Most points are used to build tension; the creation of a gloomy mysterious atmosphere is done well. In conclusion, Dickens created tension and suspense in 'The Signalman' using: Short sentences, unanswered questions, alliteration, and the other elements that I have mentioned throughout the essay. This was effective because it increase the readers' interest to finish the story, it creates excitement and anticipation. I think that this particular short story was very entertaining and I enjoyed it very much. I also think that the abrupt ending creates enormous tension, as to why the ghost chose to torment the signalman. How Dickens Created Tension and Suspense in 'The Signalman' GCSE English Coursework How Dickens Created Tension and Suspense in the Signalman By Camilla Marcus-Dew 10.4(3) ...read more.

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