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The red room and the signalman

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Introduction

Thomas Fahey 03/01/2009 How do the authors maintain suspense and tension in The Red Room and The Signalman which story do you consider does this most effectively? In The Red Room by H.G Wells, written in 1885 and The Signalman by Charles Dickens, written in 1894 are both excellent examples of stories concerning the supernatural. Ghost stories and thrillers were very popular in the Victorian Era. These types of stories are found under the genre 'Gothic'. H.G. Wells and Charles Dickens are both renowned authors and are very good at using particular techniques throughout their writing to maintain suspense and tension. The Signalman is set in an age where the train was a brand new technology which was not completely perfected; this made it a perfect place to set a mysterious ghost story. Charles Dickens was influenced to write The Signalman in 1865 when he was in a railway accident in which the train derailed at high speed. Ten people were killed and many injured. By using his experience to write this story it gave the setting a very contemporary edge, which played on societies fear for the latest technology. ...read more.

Middle

When the narrative is fast it makes the reader think faster coming up with lots of questions such as what going to happen. The personality of the characters can build tension for instance 'His attitude was one of such expectation and watchfulness that I stopped'. When you first meet the signalman his nervousness leaves the reader wondering what the reason for this behaviour is. Occasionally throughout the story Charles Dickens repeats certain phrases such as 'Don't call back... Halloa, below there'. The repetition of these phrases can make the reader think about the reasons, such as why he cannot call back. The Red Room is set lot earlier than it was written giving it a very timeless quality. Everything in the setting is very old fashioned and follows a very standard structure with a foreboding castle, hidden rooms and ghosts. He was purposely gave no indication as to its particular time or location. Just like Charles Dickens he uses the light to give the setting a more sinister atmosphere, 'dark against the firelight... ...read more.

Conclusion

H.G. Wells uses personification regularly. 'My candle flared and made the shadows cower and quiver the shadows as stepped toward me.' This makes the seen more dramatic and a lot for the reader to concentrate on and also gives the impression that there is somebody else present. Many of the techniques used in The Red Room are very similar to the techniques used in The Signalman. However The Red Room can build up more tension than The Signalman because it contains more gothic features. The danger involved in the red room it's much more obvious than the danger involved in The Signalman, perhaps because of its timeless quality. Because of the timeless quality we know exactly what kind of dangers await him as soon as the scene is set. The narrator is referred to in the first person in one story which gives the reader a stronger sense of being present in the story and makes it seem more realistic. I think that the most effective means of building tension in a story would be the use of light and description creating contrast between the known and the unknown. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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