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Red Room and The Signalman

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LUKE POLLIN 19/10/08 The stories 'The Red Room' written by H.G wells and, 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens were both written in the Victorian era. At the time, a short story was a popular genre as a form of entertainment, because during the Victorian era, not very many people could read or write. Ghost stories and thrillers were particularly popular with the Victorian readers, authors needed to build tension and suspense to keep the interest of the audience. There is tension and suspense created in both stories, in several ways. Some features like mysterious characters, style of narration and manipulation of pace would all contribute to the tension and suspense. The Victorian context is showed in numerous ways, such as Dickens putting his stories in newspapers, thus creating a bigger audience as people could easily afford a newspaper as they were cheaper than books and much shorter and more basic than books, making them easier to understand 'The Signalman' is a short story about a man who works for a railway company. There is also another character in this story. The Gentleman is the other character in the story. We never get to know his name. This is a technique Dickens uses to make this individual a mysterious character and to build up tension. ...read more.


The narrator feels sorry for the signalman. It seems that he is a person who does not know what he is dealing with or what is happening to him. For the setting in 'The Signalman', it is in a railway cutting with a "gloomy, depressing" tunnel. There are steep sides with a zigzag path on it. Here everything just seems normal but you can feel that there is something suspicious about the place. It sounds as if it is lonely and too quiet. The story does not start like a traditional story or even end like one, which is extremely different from the story of 'The Red Room'. 'The Red Room' is in a castle which is dark and isolated. The spiral staircases, large windows, long corridors, door covers and statues make the place more dangerous and no one can help that there's a sense of danger and trouble about the place. A spiral staircase shows that no-one would not know what is coming round the corner. Long corridors and a door covers shows that sound cannot travel a lot, so there is no escape. In Wells story the idea of the spiral staircases keeps you in suspense, it can give you sense of dizziness, so therefore you do not know what is going to happen. ...read more.


The words that I would like to draw attention to are 'gloomier' and 'black'. The use of the simple word 'black' is a very powerful descriptive word because it suggests that the tunnel in not just dark, but a sort of deep blackness. It is a combination of these two words that creates the image that the tunnel is like the mouth of some sort of monster. The train being the actual monster is what kills the signalman in the end after all the warnings from the apparitions. However The Red Room grips the attention of the reader in another way, In the beginning it grabs the attention of the reader but not too much just to keep the audience listening on, just to get them curious, when it comes to the part where he is on his way to the red room is where the tension and fear start to kick in and the climax of suspense is at its highest. Talking about the supernatural and ghosts would attract anyone's attention as they are well known forms of fear, evil and death. In The Red Room, the language used to describe the appearance of the room proved to be quite effective in the creation of an eerie, fearful and negative atmosphere. ...read more.

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