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'The Red Room' - review

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Introduction

GCSE Prose Study Coursework During the Victorian period, readers became engrossed with gothic horror and psychologically thrilling literature. Subsequently making these genres to be among one of the most read story lines; it has remained a popular genre since. H. G. Wells wrote science-fiction novels such as 'The first men in the moon', but he also created 'The Red Room', written in 1894, which was based on Gothic Horror. 'The Red Room' is comparable to numerous horror novels today as it has the supernatural climax that is featured in countless admired story lines. 'The Red Room' is located in an old, isolated 18th Century castle -typical to gothic horror as it presents the dilemma of being distant from any help that could be obtained, we can tell that the castle is European. Being far from help pressurizes the characters into fending for themselves which generates a captivating and riveting read. The initial setting is in a 'large sombre room' belonging to the castle, lit only by firelight, which bestows the contrast of light and darkness. As the narrator ventures deeper into the story line this contrast is sustained by the distinction of safety from the candlelight to the chilling, unknown darkness that engulfs them. Subsequently when the narrator reaches the destination of the actual Red Room, he has already started presenting signs of apprehension from the supernatural presences that are emerging in his conscience: 'My candle was a little tongue of light In its vastness, that failed to pierce the opposite End of the room, and left an ocean of mystery beyond Its island of light.' Using the phrase 'ocean of mystery' suggests that the narrator feels smothered by the darkness, as if he is drowning its' mystery. The reference to the ocean portrays the image of the darkness going on forever, with the narrator feeling lost and alone inside of it. At the beginning of 'The Red Room', the narrator is confident with his ignorance of not accepting the paranormal: 'If you will show me to this haunted room of yours, I will make myself comfortable there.' ...read more.

Middle

Shifty Dick and Jerry then announce her loneliness, which is when the reality of her true seclusion first becomes apparent: 'You are alone in the house, my pretty little dear. You may crack your sweet voice with screeching, And there's nobody near to hear you.' This patronizes Bessie by treating her as if she is cannot defend herself so they try to break her with the fear of being alone and by her vulnerability. Bessie does not come across as being scared at first because she is comforted by the fact that she is not wealthy, this gives less reason for her to be mugged. When the pocket book was left in her care, she become concerned about the welfare of it and hides the pocket book away from danger. Bessie proves herself to be independent, she becomes quick thinking and confident when her attackers come to steal the book: 'The threats of the two villains would have Terrified most women out of their senses; But the only result on me was Was violent indignation.' Bessie presents a sudden streak of braveness that evokes anger towards the two men; it appears as if she is shocked with her change of character and her strong feelings towards them. The climax of the plot comes whilst Shifty Dick and Jerry break into the house and Bessie has to escape to safety into the darkness outside: 'I must trust to the night and the thick darkness, And save my life by running for it, While there is yet still time.' Here the darkness represents safety, whereas in 'The Red Room' the darkness is the evil unknown. It becomes a battle of good against evil, the readers are willing Bessie to reach the protection of the farmhouse and this generates an enthralling read. The evil here in the 'Black Cottage' is represented differently to the other stories as it is a human fear, whereas in 'The Red Room' and 'The Signalman' there is a supernatural fear tormenting the characters. ...read more.

Conclusion

Typical gothic-horror characters seem cunning and with the help of having a good education, it suggests they could outsmart their victims so the readers are cautious and suspicious over him. He is paranoid of the supernatural presences surrounding the area and is very aware of his responsibilities as being a signalman, almost to the extent that suggests he may be slightly senile. The narrator, however, differs to the signalman by being levelheaded, rational and scientific -if not a little over-opinionated. He appears friendly and honest and the readers are inclined to trust him as you see the story through his eyes, it is too complicated without a secure narrator as the story line becomes too complicated and confusing. The relationship between the two men had only begun once the story had started, this allows the readers to get to know each character as if they had just met themselves and is a good way to introduce each character to the plot. Both characters enjoy spending time with each other as they seem lonely, their personalities almost mirror the opposite of one other since their perceptions towards life appear different. The narrator thinks rationally and scientifically towards the paranormal, whereas the signalman has developed into being overly cautious and anxious over the figure at the mouth of the tunnel. With the signalman being so apprehensive over ghosts, the readers start to feel wary of what is happening and begin to speculate whether the signalman really saw a ghost. The story starts developing once the two characters met and become acquainted to each other; it brings two lonely people together who incidentally start to figure out why the Signalman had been receiving supernatural hauntings. Charles Dickens builds up the suspense in the atmosphere by the Signalman twice 'falling with colour whilst turning to the bell which did NOT ring and looked out towards the mouth of the tunnel', this makes the reader ask why he does this and thus create a more mysterious atmosphere. The Signalman appears cautious and anxious when he is alone, which he often is, inevitably encouraging the readers to become frightened. ...read more.

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