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'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens, and 'The Red Room' by H G Wells: Compare these two stories, commenting upon 1. The settings 2. The narrators 3. The other characters 4. The endings. (Pay attention to historical and literary context).

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10/12/02 Adem Ali Set 8 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens 'The Red Room' by H G Wells Question: Compare these two stories, commenting upon 1. The settings 2. The narrators 3. The other characters 4. The endings. (Pay attention to historical and literary context). Charles Dickens lived in the nineteenth century, which was also known as 'the age of steam'. During this era, the usual form of transport was by stagecoach. It is therefore suprising that 'The Signalman' is set within the context of a railway, with the railway being associated with death. In writing this story Charles Dickens shows his interest in trains. H G Wells' life spanned the nineteenth and twentieth century. He was a rationalist and a socialist and believed that there was an explanation for any event, which happened. For example, in the case of 'The Red Room' we would have expected the story to end with an explanation showing that there was no ghost. We know that the narrator is leading out important points about the ghost but never explaining his views. He also thought there should be more equality in society. 'The Red Room' by H.G Wells is about a man who visits a castle and wants to enter 'The Red Room'. He believes the spirits of his predecessors are there. He is warned not to enter but does and becomes scared of 'fear'. ...read more.


The narrator in 'The Red Room' is very different from the narrator in 'The Signalman'. The 'Red Room' narrator is arrogant and pompous in what he says and in the way he says it, inverting the word order to try to make him sound higher classed. 'Eight and twenty years I have lived, and never a ghost have I seen as yet'. He believes that his own experiences are all he needs to take into account. He also ignores warnings from the old people as he thinks there is no ghost. Although the two narrators are very different, their actions in some situations are very similar, for example in believing there are no ghosts. At the start of the story the narrator claimed that the supernatural did not exist whereas when the narrator is in the red room and the candles go out, he starts to panic. The panic then increases which shows he is afraid. He claimed before that the supernatural did not exist whereas now he is fearful of it. When a number of candles go out the narrator lets out 'a cry of terror'. As the candles have gone out he tries to relight them from the fire and it instantly disappears; 'I turned to where the flames were still dancing between the glowing coals, and splashing red reflections upon the furniture, made two steps towards the grate, and incontinently the flames dwindled and vanished'. ...read more.


The second unexplained detail is when the narrator tries to light his candle at the fire and 'incontinently the flames dwindled and vanished, the glow vanished, the reflections rushed together and vanished and as I thrust the candle between the bars darkness closed upon me like the shutting of an eye'. As these details do not fit into the narrator's 'rational' explanations he just simply leaves them out. Perhaps his memory was conveniently wiped when he hit his head. H G Wells seems to be interested in the issues concerning the supernatural so there is very little emotion at the end of the story. This is in contrast to 'The Signalman' where we feel great pity and sadness for the signalman's death. Surprisingly Wells includes a touch of humour at the very end when the narrator tries to explain to the custodians that the only thing that made him panic was fear itself. I conclude that 'The Signalman' and 'The Red Room' are not similar at all. The only similarity I could find was the in the way both stories are supernatural. I think this because the two men in the story are in two completely different situations. In 'The Red Room' the man is scared and very lonely person. He is scared of 'fear', which he created himself in the first place. The other man is just more mystified than scared. The signalman was only scared for the future, but he did not know his fate. 1 1 Adem Ali 10P ...read more.

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