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Pre 1900 Prose.

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Introduction

Pre 1900 Prose Assignment After having studied a selection of pre-1900 prose texts, I am going to analyse three of them carefully. All throughout the three texts I have found that there is a common theme. The supernatural. The three texts contain an array of detail about this theme. Throughout these there is a significant amount of death, ghosts, witchcraft and superstition, all linked to the unexplained. The themes would have been commonplace during the times when these stories were written as people had strongly believed in these. Also the stories seemingly touch the theme of fate. The first text that I shall talk about is 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens. This is a very tense and intriguing story. The story is basically about a signalman who has met with a stranger. The stranger is curious about the signalman. He wants to know more about him. Gradually the stranger finds out that the signalman has been contacted by the spectre. The spectre is a ghost who appears to the signalman on occasions when there is a tragedy to happen. It has already appeared twice, once waving its hands like the way the stranger had done. At this occasion a very serious train crash happened very soon after. On the other occasion the spectre was in a mourning state, and again, soon after a lady dies after being thrown of the train. The signalman is very uncomfortable about this. A third time the spectre appears to the signalman, but this time the spectre is motionless. The signalman becomes very frantic and is desperate to know what is about to happen. After the meeting with the stranger, the following morning the signalman sees the spectre again. He goes towards the spectre not aware of the train coming towards him. The train driver waves frenziedly, exactly the same way as the spectre had done and also in the same way as the spectre he mourned. ...read more.

Middle

The very sinister part of this however was that the following day Mr Whites son, Herbert, died at the factory, and then Mr White received compensation, totalling two hundred pounds! This was the exact amount that Mr White had asked for. Mrs White was very distressed and would not accept the fact that her son was dead. She pressured Mr White into wishing for her son to come back. Mr White knowing that Herbert would arrive in a horrendous state was extremely reluctant to use the charm. However in the end he gave in to her demands and wished for Hebert to come back. When Herbert had just knocked on the door, Mr White frantically was looking for the charm and just about when the door was to be opened he wished that Herbert was to return to his grave. The story was written superbly. It revives our childhood fantasies of wishes. The story was very effective and thought-provoking. The suspense of the story was quite dramatic and was enjoyable. The story has very delicate and important morals within it. This adds to the story as a whole. There is a lot of tension and mystery within the story itself, again adding to the suspense of the story. The story engages the reader and does not fail to please. W W Jacobs manages to hide clues within the story which leads towards the ending. One such instance is when Herbert bets that he will never see the money, a seemingly innocent assumption at first. "Well, I don't see the money" "and I bet I never shall" Another such instance where Jacobs shows us his ability to do this is when Herbert sees the horrific image in the fire, of himself. 'The last face was so horrible he gazed at it in amazement' Furthermore another clue is noted when Herbert tells his father not to use the money before he comes back. ...read more.

Conclusion

Again we can see the use of the metaphor once again by Hardy. This story barely sticks to the regulations of a short story, however it is still regarded as a short story. Even though it does not stick to this the story still manages to deliver. Within this story there is not much evidence of the Literary Tradition, however the frightful nightmare that Rhoda encounters takes place at night. The story does take into account the Social and Historical context. This is proved by the use of 'horse and trap', something that was commonplace in those days, and something which would be seen very rarely today. As well as this the story looks at the Social divide amongst the people, the Class System. Hardy cleverly includes this as to raise awareness of these issues in his own life and era. There was a video made of this story, which was not very much to my liking. The video fails to live up to the story, however it does try to portray the story how it is. In my opinion it is not as bad as the video of the Signalman, however I still believe it should have been made better. Hardy would have been rather disappointed by the making of such a film. This story was a very mystifying text which looks deep into the social divide in a very subtle way. It also explores the belief of the people of the time and incorporates all this into one very good story. I liked 'The Withered Arm' because of the depth of information and description that was present in this text. It manages to build the scene and adds to the tension without losing the interest of the reader and contains a rather illusive twist at the end f the story which was very much to my liking. The other two stories were very good indeed but I preferred 'The Withered Arm' solely because of the descriptive and detailed content. Farhaz Miah ...read more.

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