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'The Signalman' and 'The Black Cat'

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Claire Morgan 'The Signalman' and 'The Black Cat' Mystery Stories. In my opinion the most important thing to make a good mystery story is suspense. The writer should have the reader wanting to read on and asking questions right from the start. The description of the setting and characters are vital to the mystery. It gives the reader the emotions to really understand the atmosphere of the story. I don't think the atmosphere needs to be really obscured but some bizarre features are needed to get an eerie and suspicious feeling. A twist in the end throws the reader's prediction off course, and brings the mystery together. The clues should be laid out subtlety in the story so at the end the reader can see what they missed as they were reading. If questions are left unanswered at the end of the story it keeps the readers thinking so they can imagine what happens. A death makes the story more tragic and far fetched yet realistic making the person wearier of what is going on. Being written in the first person makes the story feel more personal and emotional so the reader feels like they are actually in the story. Dialogue also adds to this affect. Having the words of a person gives you a better idea of their personality. ...read more.


"Ghastly" is another word for horrifying or an exaggeration of horrible. A "nod" is a slight movement of the head. It is usually used in sombre, serious situations such as this fear of the signalman at this point. This adds a more disturbing atmosphere to the story. 'The Signalman' also has the ghost as a character. Ghosts are usually associated with fear whereas this ghost is gentle, trying to warn the signalman about the dangers. "It was an action of mourning. I have seen such an attitude in stone figures on tombs" "mourning" has connotations of death, sadness and loss. "stone figures" is an exaggeration of cold, lifeless, still and plain statues. The noun "tombs" is a stone cemetery where dead people are laid which once again brings out death in this story. 'The Signalman' is told to us in the past tense. The writer tells us exactly what happens but we do not find out the ending until the end. We follow the mystery how the narrator did in the original scenes. This makes it a mystery as we are kept in suspense and are witnesses to the out come. It makes the reader feel moved as they also become involved in the mystery like the narrator. The narrator builds up suspense in the story by manipulating the reader into thinking that the out come will be happy and positive but suddenly underminds it with tragedy and horror. ...read more.


'Thickened around' gives you the image of something wrapping itself around you, entangling its body around an object. The writer uses a simile 'like' to create a vivid image of the sensation the man is over coming. 'Silky' on its own means smooth but when followed by 'living snakes' it has connotations of lustrous, vicious and fear of snakes. 'his skin tingled with multitudinous tiny bites from fangs which were venomous'. A 'tingle' is a feeling of tiny pin pricks which instantly adds emotion to the story. 'multitudinous' is a more intense way of saying 'many' which makes it more exaggerated. 'Fangs' have connotations of sharp, pointed glistening teeth that over indulge in blood sucking. 'Venomous' gives the impression that there is poison on the blood, so increases the danger of death. In my opinion 'The Black Cat' is the better mystery story. The language, for the time it was written is quite modern and easy to understand. In contrast, 'The Signalman' is a dated mystery with more old-fashioned words which are not used in modern day language. 'The Signalman' is a traditional mystery in contrast to 'The Black Cat' which is unusual and not so predictable. The setting in 'The Signalman' is long and very in-depth. Ultimately, I preferred the immediate setting in 'The Black Cat'. It sounded as though it started half way through a conversation which drops the reader straight into the story. ...read more.

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