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Three short stories

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'The Signalman', 'The Red Room' and 'The Pit and the Pendulum' are all Victorian short stories and were all written in the nineteenth century. When these stories were written, there always seemed something mysterious and disturbing going on at the time. In 1843 there were links to Darwin's theory to evolution, this theory doubted religion and caused people to question their beliefs, this was the year that 'The Pit and the Pendulum' was written making it the oldest out of the three stories. Second came Charles Dickens's 'The Signalman' which was written in 1866, at this period of time Britain moved from an agricultural economy to a progressive and technological one, which made people uncertain about the future. Finally in 1896, 'The Red Room' was written by H.G Wells, it was only written fours before the turn of the century, at this time people had speculations that there was going to be an apocalypse and there was fin-de-siecle angst. In this essay I will be comparing and exploring the different atmospheres and setting in these three stories. I will be looking at four main parts of the stories, the narrators, the openings, the settings and the endings of all three stories. Looking at the three stories, you notice that they are all written in a first person narrative. This makes the stories more personalized but also makes the reader doubt how reliable the stories really are, because the reader only gets one person's perspective of the whole story. ...read more.


When the narrator tries to verbally communicate with the signalman, the signalman just raises his hand, "Not even then removing his eyes from mine, he stepped back one step, and lifted his hand" This means that the signalman made no verbal communication but he continued to stare at the narrator. This creates tension as the readers do not know what is going to happen next and they can sense the enmity and hostility. The opening of 'The Red Room' is pretty predictable, "The long, draughty subterranean passage was chilly and dusty, and my candle flared ad made the shadows cower and quiver. The echoes rang up and down the spiral staircase" This opening is very descriptive of the surroundings as they often tend to be in haunted mansion stories. The way that the narrator has described the house is a very typical environment for a haunted place. In the opening the readers are introduced to three old characters that live in the mansion. Even the way these characters are described goes with the whole scary setting. As the narrator describes one of them as "the man with the withered arm" which makes him sound scary and frightening, he also describes one of them as "pale eyes wide open" which makes them sound very ghostly and haunted. This shows the contrast between these three old cripples and the narrator who is a young man aged 28 and the caricatures of Gothic literature are explored without irony- they are stereotypes. ...read more.


When the narrator comes out of the room he is left traumatised by his experience "The worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal man... and that is, in the nakedness- Fear! Fear that will not have light that deafens and darkens and overwhelms. It follows me through the corridor, it fought against me in the room." Here he is saying that there were no ghosts and no spirits, the thing that destroyed him in the room was just plain and simple psychological fear. Although another character in the story disagrees "A power of darkness. To put such a curse upon a woman!" He is saying what it must be a ghost or a spirit that haunts the room. Overall in the end the ending does not give the reader closure, because all the questions are left unanswered and we have two competing and conflicting interpretations. To conclude, 'The Red Room', 'The signalman' and 'The Pit and the Pendulum' are Victorian stories that are similar in many ways, for one they are all written in the first person and characters all experience delusion and depression. Two stories revolve around death in the end and one in mental breakdown, and all three stories are psychological, exploring how a person's mind can play tricks on you, and leave you in turmoil, yet as readers we never know for sure what has gone on which is an excellent metaphor for the doubts, anxieties and confusion seen in the Victorian era. ?? ?? ?? ?? An exploration of atmosphere and setting in 'The Signalman', 'The Red Room' and 'The Pit and the Pendulum' 1 Jolanta Ruperte ...read more.

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