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The Signalman

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The Signalman In the following essay I will be looking at the way that Charles Dickens creates suspense in the Signalman. The Signalman is a short, gothic story written by Charles Dickens; in it Dickens shows a vast amount of gothic conventions. The story is set in a deep railway cutting; this fits to gothic conventions in that most of the gothic stories are set in dark, damp and lonely places, however most are set in castles or ruins of some kind. Throughout the story Dickens emphasizes how lonely it is in that place and eerie, this again fits with gothic conventions as all gothic stories have some link to eerie and supernatural things. The story opens with the narrator shouting down to the signalman on the tracks below him. "Hello below down there" was the words he used; this spooked the signalman as the spectre, which will be explained later, had said the exact same words to him on several occasions. ...read more.


Dickens uses the character of the signalman to create suspense; he does this in several ways. Firstly the way the signalman acts and behaves, right from the start the signalman acts in a strange manner. When the narrator shouts down to him from above the signalman looks from side to side along the railway line, this immediately makes the reader think he is strange. As the narrator approaches him he looks white and the narrator thinks that he might be a ghost this raises the reader's suspicion of the signalman and when it is made clear that the signalman is scared the reader knows he is a key character in the story. The signalman has an obviously lonely job but as the narrator talks to him more it becomes clear that he is actually a well educated man who could have gone on to greater things. But despite his education he appears to be going a bit mad, he claims that he is haunted by a spectre that appears every time something bad happens on the train. ...read more.


calm about it and just trying to come up with an explanation for the weird events, but we can tell that he is actually really spooked out by what the signalman is telling him. As we can see Dickens effectively creates tension and suspense though out the entire story. In the opening he employs general gothic conventions to create a sense of mystery. He also makes the reader suspicious of the main characters in the opening by leading us to believe that they maybe ghosts and then proving that they are not. The setting of the story creates even more suspense by going along with gothic conventions, in a dark, damp and lonely place. It also adds to the tension by it being set on the railway line, which is considered to be a dangerous place, this makes an accident more likely. The characters are also a key factor in creating suspense, especially the signalman, right from the beginning he seems very strange and as the story progresses he becomes more and more strange. By Mark Duroe ...read more.

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