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The Signalman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Napoleon and The Spectre. In this essay I am going to compare and contrast them. All three of these stories use gothic techniques; however they have a variety of differences as well as similarities.

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast Three 19th Century Short Stories The first gothic novel was written in 1764 by Horace Walpole. The novel was called 'The Castle of Ortranto'. He created the criteria that all gothic writers use today. Gothic literature uses an atmosphere of mystery, shock and suspense to intrigue the reader or audience. The gothic vocabulary consists of words that create an atmosphere of; mystery, hate, tension, fear, sorrow and terror. Gothic novels usually are set in a house or place with a large amount of gothic architecture. Gothic literature has a common involvement with the supernatural. In most gothic stories there is a spectre, ghost or vision that is out of the ordinary. Gothic stories also often contain a mysterious ending. During the gothic phase many authors took to writing in this style. Authors such as Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe all adopted the gothic style and wrote their own stories. Gothic architecture is also included many times to provoke an atmosphere of terror. The gothic style buildings had large arches and gargoyles that looked down from the ceiling, these things gave the image of darkness. ...read more.

Middle

Whereas, by contrast the ghostly figure in The Signalman is actually having a seen impact on the man and his surrounding environment. The ghost has made the signalman pay less attention to his job because he thinks he is possibly going mad, which could have triggered the sequence of events, which had come before. The whole area surrounding the Signalman's living area is completely unnatural. He does not see the same amount of daylight as a normal person and he has to put up with horrible damp conditions and eerie noises. For example 'the wind and the wires took up the story with a long lamenting wail' this makes people who are not used to the environment feel distracted and probably a little nervous. Having said that the gentleman who is questioning the Signalman about his troubles, questions himself as to whether he is a 'living man' and says the bell was not rung when the Signalman went to the edge of his cabin. The only other time the gentleman heard it was when the bell was 'rung in the natural course of physical things' implying there was most definitely a supernatural force behind the bell ringing when no one else heard it. ...read more.

Conclusion

The woman gets the idea that John is after her, 'now he's crying to Jennie for an axe' except the woman will not open the door because she has deliberately thrown the key 'down by the front door under a plantain leaf.' The reader sees John's protectiveness over her clearly, 'for God's sake what are you doing!' but the woman has gone past the breeches of insanity to recall what she is doing. She is elated at the fact that she 'has got out at last' despite the fact she thinks John and Jennie have held her in and stopped her doing anything. 'Now why should that man have fainted?' is what she says and I believe that she killed her husband because she says she has 'to creep over him every time.' The element is very gothic and incredibly common among such writers as Gilman. In conclusion each story contains elements of surprise, unease and the supernatural. In my view to have a successful Gothic story there has to be ghostliness, prominent gothic architecture and intense characters. Nineteenth century short stories are still popular even today because they focus on giving the reader a surprise and an interesting story. The stories that I have compared and contrasted are appealing to the reader because they are dark, unusual and unpredictable. ...read more.

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