• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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.

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Signalman section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Signalman essays

  1. The Signalman and The Yellow Wall Paper

    In addition, the narrator claims that there was a 'barbarous, depressing, and forbidding air, as well as an 'earthly, deadly smell' in the 'black' tunnel, which gave him the feeling as if he had 'left the natural world.' This suggests that the location is extremely hell-like.

  2. Ghost Stories essay

    The monkeys paw is told in the third person. The advantage of the third person narrative is that the writer is not restricted in the words that they can use, also the pace of the story is quicker. The writer has chosen third person narrative to tell the story so that their vocabulary will not be limited.

  1. Compare and contrast three 19th Century gothic short stories commenting upon the authors' use ...

    The night sky is deficient of stars and the moon, and this sets a very gothic mood; "the night was pretty dark, neither moon nor stars visible" this is very typically gothic and creates an atmospheric mood. The setting of the forest "wilder than it is now" this promotes the

  2. Comparative Essay between "The Signalman" and "The Pit and the Pendulum"

    Further tension is bred when the Signalman, during a conversation, "twice broke off with a fallen colour, turned his face towards the little bell when it did NOT ring, opened the door of the hut... and looked out towards the red light near the mouth of the tunnel."

  1. Short Stories Essay

    A kind, friendly man was just taking a walk around the countryside when he spots a man, the signalman standing by the railway line, down the steep hill just prior to the railway tunnel. The man waves to the signalman in a friendly, sociable manner hoping that he will be

  2. In this essay, the openings of the four short stories, "The Signalman" by Charles ...

    The fact that the cutting is in the middle of the countryside is very significant as it shows that if something terrible or fatal was to happen (which the story hints is going to happen), there would be no help easily available.

  1. Explore the genre of mystery in the Signal, the red room, the monkey's paw ...

    Napoleon allowed himself to be taken on this tour partly due to his courageousness but also the fact that the ghost exerts authority over him, encouraging him on with alluring remarks such as, 'follow me Napoleon and though shall seek more.'

  2. In this essay I will discuss the theme of fear as portrayed in "The ...

    There was a growing unease within Victorian society. Technology was being introduced with the arrival of trains for example, the Victorians were not happy with this and the resulting uncertainty of these developments. The modern changes were being seen as a catalyst for extreme aversion.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work