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The Adventure of the Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle (1892), 'The Ostler' by Wilkie Collins (1855), and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens (1864). All of these are mystery stories

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Introduction

How do the writers try to create excitement, mystery and suspense? Which of the stories you have read was the most successful and why? I have chosen to write about three stories - 'The Adventure of the Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle (1892), 'The Ostler' by Wilkie Collins (1855), and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens (1864). All of these are mystery stories that have been written in a similar way, with classic 'mystery and suspense' techniques. These stories were all written in the nineteenth century, and reflect this period with the use of old language and settings. Also the use of horses & carriage and the disadvantage of there being no electricity. Many archaisms are used in all three of the stories and these reflect the period. Nobody would use such language today, which also helps to draw the reader into the story because the reader has to concentrate on the complicated language and long sentences. The narrative structure in 'The Signalman' and 'The Ostler' is very similar, with both narrators reliving the stories and telling them to the reader, where as, in the 'Speckled Band', the reader seems to be being told the story as it happens. ...read more.

Middle

This is very similar to 'The Ostler' where we find the ostler himself talking in his sleep saying 'wake up there, wake up!' in the opening paragraphs. The speech in this story is typical of a mystery story - talking about death and murder. 'Wake up there! Murder! O lord help me!' All of these stories include a typical structure for a mystery and suspense story including setting, mood and atmosphere. These add to the effects of the story and help to draw the reader in and make it seem more like reality. When describing the setting, mood and atmosphere, long sentences are used to slow down the pace of the story so the reader concentrates on every last detail. 'On either side, a dripping-wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky; the perspective one way only a crooked prolongation of this great dungeon: the shorter perspective in the other direction, terminating in a gloomy red light...' This describes how damp, disgusting and miserable the setting of this story is. Pathetic fallacy is used to create atmosphere with the weather matching the action and emotions of the characters in the story. ...read more.

Conclusion

'The Speckled Band' is the odd one out because it has a very unpredictable but complete ending. This is because the mystery is solved with a very different answer to the one the reader will perhaps have thought of and the other two stories end with a question therefore do not solve the mystery completely but leave it open for interpretation. Where as, 'The Ostler' and 'The Signalman' are both cliff-hangers and leave the reader thinking about all the possible and impossible endings to the story. Also, because these stories don't have complete endings the whole story becomes a mystery that is hard to make sense of. 'Who can tell! said I.' - 'The Ostler'. In conclusion, I think that none of the stories were more successful than the other at creating mystery and suspense. All of the stories are set in different contexts - one is a murder mystery, one a supernatural mystery and the other a mystery of dreams and reality. The two cliffhangers, to me, make the story more of a mystery because it leaves the story is left open to the reader to interpret. But the gain I think that 'The Signalman' is the better story because I personally prefer supernatural mysteries which are not fully explained or explicable. 1 Katie Williams 10S1 ...read more.

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