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Pre-1914 Prose Coursework - How do Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and the Red Room? Dickens and Wells both create a sinister and supernatural

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Introduction

Noushin Y. Farsani 11L Pre-1914 Prose Coursework - How do Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and the Red Room? Dickens and Wells both create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and The Red Room by using the Gothic features, such as the presence of grotesque characters, haunted rooms, superstition and previous deaths. These features are all key ideas in the Signalman and the Red Room, as Dickens and Wells have been influenced by the particular popularity towards horror and supernatural genre at that time of writing. To address the title, I will analysis the text thoroughly for the key language that will create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere, such as pronouns and repetition of words. The Signalman, by Charles Dickens, is about a powerless man who is visited by a traveller (the narrator of The Signalman). The story is inspired by a railway accident that Dickens was involved in, where the train was derailed and ten people were killed. The whole story revolves around just two characters, the narrator and the Signalman. The powerless man works as a Signalman for the passing trains and lives near by the train track. The railways were only recently invented; so it was cutting edge technology. But, when the Signalman sees the traveller for the first time he becomes afraid by the three words that the traveller utters. As the two men spoke, the Signalman tells the traveller the sinister reason to why he was so scared by the traveller's greeting. This is typical of Dickens later work as he then used darker tones and more disciplined literature that had a greater sense of unity. ...read more.

Middle

This increases some of the narrator's fears and the reader's about the Red Room, but as the narrator is overconfident and quite inexperienced he brushes the statement aside. This also indicates that the custodians are the opposite of the narrator, as they are more experienced, thus they are warning the narrator because of their experience. In both the Signalman and the Red Room, a main character is being warned; in the Red Room the custodians are warning the narrator about entering the Red Room, and in the Signalman the spectre is warning the Signalman. Subsequently, the narrator continues to find the custodians behaviour bizarre and is so uncomfortable being with the strange custodians that he insists twice to be shown where the Red Room is, "...I will make myself comfortable there". This signifies that the narrator is growing unrest within himself due to the oppressive atmosphere that he is in. Consequently, both Dickens and Wells use the observations of the narrators' to convey the odd behaviour of the Signalman and the custodians; this reinforces the sinister and supernatural atmosphere that they slowly create. The manner that Wells and Dickens describe the Signalman and the custodians helps to increase the ambience of the supernatural. In addition, in the Signalman, Dickens uses pronouns to give the Signalman a sinister and uneasy feel, "...he heard a voice calling..." This creates mystery as the Signalman has no name and raises many questions in the readers mind, it also gives a sense of unknowing to the Signalman. As well, he is called the 'Signalman', which indicates that his profession is one of the industrialisation; therefore the readers would be wary of him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, Wells's use of multi sensory descriptions gives the reader the idea that the room and castle are old and very gothic which adds to the supernatural atmosphere. Moreover, the personification of the darkness gives a rather chilling account of the narrator's view upon the Red Room, "A shadow came sweeping up after me, and one fled before me". This suggests that everything in the Red Room is coming to life, which makes the atmosphere even more sinister and menacing. In addition, the name of the story, "The Red Room", conveys the idea of hell. The colour red itself gives the reader a clear signal of danger and provides a hint to what is expected from the story. The Red Room is set in a castle and has a long history, "The ornaments and conveniences of the room about them were ghostly - the thoughts of vanished men". This is because many who have been in the Red Room in the past have disappeared and their spirits have been haunting the place ever since. Through Dickens and Wells use of language devices, the authors' not only give a threatening and paranormal atmosphere, but they also convey to the reader that the setting of the story is linked to the characters themselves. To conclude, both Dickens and Wells have used language, setting, behaviour and description of the characters to increase the supernatural and sinister atmosphere in both The Red Room and The Signalman. They have involved social historical context, religion and gothic literature in their stories to terrify the reader, dealing with the passionate, mysterious, horrific and supernatural atmosphere, 'The Red Room' and 'The Signalman' openings are typical examples of gothic literature and have been written very carefully with detailed literacy devices to increase the feel of the supernatural and sinister. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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