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The Signalman is a ghost story. How does Charles Dickens create an atmosphere of mystery and suspense in the story?

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Introduction

The Signalman is a ghost story. How does Charles Dickens create an atmosphere of mystery and suspense in the story? In every good ghost story I have ever read the writer builds an air of mystery and apprehension as the story unfolds, until the climax. This serves to both keep the reader interested and question what is going to happen next but makes them feel scared and anxious. In my essay intend to explore how Charles Dickens creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense in 'the signalman'. I will do this in three ways: By the description of setting, characters and by the imagery and literary techniques used. This ghost story is set in a 19th century railway cutting, which seems to be remote and desolate. ...read more.

Middle

The trains' steam can be seen as smoke from its mouth. The word 'violent' hints at a hostile creature. As the narrator descends he describes the stone as 'clammy... that became oozier and wetter as it went down'. Here the writer uses thermal and tactile images creating an unpleasant impression when read. 'A rough zigzagged descending path ... cutting was extremely deep and usually precipitous'. This helps us to imagine it to be very dangerous and as if he was leaving the natural world. The first time that the narrator makes contact with the signalman is when he shouts 'Halloa! Bellow There!'. The narrator is shocked that the signalman didn't look up to him straight away. Instead he looks down the line towards the red light. ...read more.

Conclusion

This straight away tells us that it is a ghost story and that something bad will happen. On page 106 the narrator says 'left the natural world' this tells the reader that there is a sense of supernatural goings on in the cutting. In my opinion this sets the story up, as the rest describes a place, which seems to represent hell. In the story the signalman says 'memorable accident'. This says to me that he can remember a bad accident and it is still vivid in his mind. It also gives an impression that an accident will happen in the future that he will never forget. I have come to the conclusion that Charles Dickens creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense in the signalman by describing setting, characters and imagery-literary techniques. These all form a part in making the signalman into a mysterious and ghostly story. Sam Wood 11.4 ...read more.

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