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The Signalman

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Traditionally people liked a novel, which kept them guessing. For a long time The Signalman didn't speak, he was apprehensive and "lonesome" as a "visitor was a rarity". The first time the Signalman speaks it is as if he has just read the man's narrators mind as he replies to the man's direct unspoken question by saying, "Don't you know it is?" He answered the question by saying the light is part of his charge. This suspicious metaphysical power adds to the mystification and contributes to the thought "that this was a spirit not a man". The man and the setting cannot "rise into sunshine" from the "damp air" as "he had made his bed, and he lay upon it. It was far too late to make another one". The sunshine is the bright new lifestyle and the damp air is what he's caught in because he cannot escape his "troubled lifestyle" which is not idyllic and fulfilled like married life in Lamb to the Slaughter appears. . In The Signalman the eerie desolate setting of the railway cutting is haunting. Dickens describes the setting in graphic detail to give us an indication that something "unnatural" will occur. The narrator felt "daunted" and "stepped back" when the Signalman spoke, as if he is afraid. The climax comes at the end of The Signalman. The warning words "Below there! Look out! Look out! For God's sake, clear the way!" make us realize why the man came to the railway in the first place. ...read more.


The description of the cutting has adjectival imagery littered throughout, such adjectives as "angry...deep...violent...deadly". These are negative adjectives implying darkness and evil. They get a clear message across that the cutting has a malicious air. The tension of the story is done almost completely on the use of adjectives. Adjectives set the tone for the story; they also add tension and darker tones to it. Dickens uses adjectival images throughout the story, some include "daunted...damp...barbarous...monstrous" these continue to keep the story sombre and morose. The use of figurative language is limited to just a few instances, one being an "angry sunset" personification is used to give the atmosphere an even more menacing air. This story was written in 1866, the writing is very cynical maybe the rambler thoughts were the writer's own. This was a time when people were starting not to believe ghosts and the supernatural. The verbs and adjectives used are also an indicator to what time the story was written, "as I perused the fixed eyes and saturnine face", "perused" and "saturnine" would not appear often in modern popular writing, but would have been common language among the literary elite. Who would have been the main readers in Dickens's day. Dickens hardly uses any figurative language, his writing uses verbal and adjectival imagery to build tension. In result his writing is more direct, the tension more exact and immediate. Suspense is created through supernatural, horror and ambiguity. This could be the final climax to the building pressure, but it ends up as being a train this; creates a lot of tension which is then lost after you are enlighten The cutting would be pretty dark; this darkness creates the suspended mood. ...read more.


Could there be some supernatural truth to the story? Did the signalman really see the figure and hear the electric bell before each accident? At the end of the story when the signalman dies the train driver tells the train driver tells the narrator the words the signal man said the ghost had said whilst waving his hand. He then realises that there could really be a ghost or some kind of vision that made the signalman see into the future. Most of this story is set in the daytime, which does not create a spooky atmosphere. Charles Dickens still manages to create tension even though the story is quiet and has little action. The story does have a lot of mystery to it, for example why was the narrator walking through the fields in the first place and how did the signalman knows the statement said by the train driver? Did he really see a ghost in the tunnel or was it just a coincidence that they said the same thing? There is a bit of suspense at the end of the story when the signalman sees the figure 'ghost' and stands in the middle of the track, the train driver is whistling at him to move but he doesn't. At the same time the narrator is running toward the viaduct. So does the narrator fall into the train or does the signalman get killed? To represent the major themes of life, death,and purity, Poe uses the colors red, black, and white. The pendulum and the heartbeat show the passing of time and life, while the pit represents the inevitable descent into the abyss that we must all experience when we die. ...read more.

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