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Throughout this essay I intend to compare and contrast the effectiveness of the different narrative styles used in the two short stories, A Terribly Strange Bed and The Whole Town's Sleeping.

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Introduction

English - Coursework Throughout this essay I intend to compare and contrast the effectiveness of the different narrative styles used in the two short stories, A Terribly Strange Bed and The Whole Town's Sleeping. The stories were written about one hundred years apart, The Whole Town's Sleeping in 1950 and A Terribly Strange Bed, much earlier in 1856. This means that not only will the portrayal of the stories vary based upon the individual styles of writing of the authors but also the social history of the times of writing will be quite different. A Terribly Strange Bed is a story written in the first person narrative, which means it is written as a personal account of the events within the story from the point of view of the main character. It is usually written as a character recalling the story to someone else after the events have taken place. The Whole Town's Sleeping on the other hand is a story written in the third person narrative which means it is written from the point of view of an 'invisible' bystander who plays no part in the actual story. It is written as the events take place and is much like a fly on the wall kind of perspective. The outline of the story in The Whole Town's Sleeping is that there is an air of tension building in a small town as a man nicknamed 'the lonely one' is going around killing women "But the others - strangled - four of them, their tongues sticking out of their mouths, they say." The main theme of the story is about the reactions and feelings of three maiden ladies as they walk through the town in the dark of night to visit the cinema. The tension and fear of the story is increased as the women find the body of a friend who has been missing, Eliza Ramsell, and their response is not to return to the safety of their homes, but is to continue with their plans to walk on, to the cinema. ...read more.

Middle

Here in the story the 'too good to be true' factor is used. The suspicious soldier started of by returning the character's gambling chip, which had fallen to the floor, he then urged him to continue gambling, which he did in a very successful fashion. Once the bank was broken the soldier provides the character with champagne causing him to become intoxicated the soldier then shows concern by making our character drink coffee apparently to help him sober up. He does all this for a man he only met an hour before reasoning that he is simply concerned for our character's safety. This makes the reader suspicious of the old soldier and consequently, fearful for the safety of the protagonist. Also, the fact that the wine seems to be unusually strong puts doubt into the readers' mind as to whether or not this is actually unadulterated wine. The leading character casts it off as nothing and so the doubt is never confirmed or laid to rest thereby adding to our sense of suspense. The main events of the story or the climax are reached in different ways in the two stories. In The Whole Town's Sleeping there are many events, which create a very intense climax up to the main events this makes the story longer and it keeps the audience gripped. The climax of the story is Lavinia's trip back home through the ravine, Ray Bradbury uses a technique of short sharp language one or two word sentences, he also uses numbers to help with the build up of anticipation, he counts out the steps down the ravine. In A Terribly Strange Bed there aren't as many events leading up to the main events, but the climax is reached by creating an eerie setting which gets the reader gripped as they know something big is going to happen, Wilkie Collins describes the movement of the bed by the disappearing picture, she makes so you think the man is definitely going to die but he escapes just in time. ...read more.

Conclusion

The bed is described with sinister terms "sinking slowly", regularly, silently, horribly". Together all these techniques create an effective climax, brimming with fear and suspense. The climax happens before the end of the story and there is a conclusion to the story, where normality returns, this consists of a full explanation of the actions including the police involvement and the details of the bed mechanism. This is in contrast to The Whole Town's Sleeping where the story ends on the most climatic note, "Behind her, in the black living-room, someone cleared his throat..." Before the climax in Whole Town's Sleeping Ray Bradbury also uses language style to built up tension. Once Lavinia leaves her friends her confidence also deserts her, counting is used to set the reader willing her to the 'safety' of her home. It is prophetic that she remembers a story, "The story about the man coming in your house and you upstairs in bed.", a dread held by all women, again this emphasises the vulnerability of women. The author also uses repetition of words to give the impression of Lavinia's heart racing, "I can run' I can run!" Short sentences are used to describe Lavinia's arrival at her home. "The door opened. 'Now inside. Slam it!'" this makes the story run faster, building suspense. The franticness of her actions stops when she is in the house and all measures have been taken to secure the door. "The music stopped." The reader is starting to relax. Lavinia has made it to the 'emphasised' safety of home. The word safe is used repeatedly (fourteen times), in her thoughts of being back at home. The over use of the word safe starts to contradict its actual meaning creating dramatic irony. As she calms down she starts to question her fear, but is still glad that her journey is over and that she is back in the so-called 'safety' of her home. The ending is left to the imagination of the reader knowing that she is now locked in her 'safe' house with a mysterious strange man in the dark room. 1 ...read more.

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