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Unlike "The Red Room" and "The Monkey's Paw", the setting of "The Telltale Heart" is not significant to building up suspense; however there are a few elements that do

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Introduction

How is tension and suspense built up and maintained in at least two Gothic horror stories? The genre of Gothic Horror was developed during 19th and early 20th century and had a popular appeal to the new middle class people who sought entertainment. Gothic Horror has common characteristics of suspense, fear and would often include a rational, scientifically minded character who fails to heed warnings. Gothic horror tales often have exotic and mythical influences. The night and the unreassuring lack of light play a big part in adding to the hellish imagery. One of the key ways that tension is built up in gothic horror stories is through the setting. For example, "The Red Room" is set in an old dark castle. It is quite remote. Tension is built up with the portrayal of the "long draughty subterranean passage" which eventually leads to "that large sombre room"; the effect of such a setting is to give a feeling of impending doom. Likewise "The Monkey's Paw" is set in a "beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way" house; this increases the tension by high lighting the isolation of the characters within. The setting of the cold and wet weather is in contrast to the cosy small parlour, in which "the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly". ...read more.

Middle

The tension builds but then is eased by the moonlight and candle revealing the true nature of each object. Light, or lack of it, also helps build tension in the gothic horror genre. There will rarely be day light in any gothic horror story. In "The Monkey's Paw" "the wintry sun" in the morning encouraged Mr White to "laugh at his fears." .This also gives the reader a false sense of security, whilst keeping them in suspense. "I opened my eyes in day light" brings relief to the increasing tension of the night spent in the red room yet we are warned that fear can be felt "even in day time". Minimal light is used to a sinister effect, in "The Telltale Heart" a single thin ray, fell upon the vulture eye." This is a strong image as we are told the room was "black as pitch", thus the strand of light directed by the murderer is all the more vivid. The ray of light is also described as "like the thread of the spider". This image is appropriate since the light is shone on its victim. Hellish imagery is a common element of gothic horror. Colours and fire help add to the demonic atmosphere. ...read more.

Conclusion

The stories in some ways are very different from each other and their endings are not always predictable. However, it has been shown that the use of strong imagery is a common feature. The characterisation in the gothic horror story includes a modern logical man who aims at scientific explanations, placed among superstitious, odd and unnatural beings. This investigation has found setting to be an important element in many of the stories with a common theme of physical isolation and a dark wet environment. The effect of light and darkness has been found to increase tension by transforming every day objects into sinister shadows. Hellish imagery is common in the gothic stories. Fire is used to convey warnings of impending doom as in "The Monkey's Paw" or is used as an image of hellfire as in "The Cone". The colour red also has demonic associations; it is used to indicate a threat, to increase the tension with its association with blood and to create a gloomy atmosphere. The use of irony is another common feature used to continue the suspense of gothic story, it also foreshadows disaster. While it is possible to pick out key ways in which tension and suspense is built up in the five stories analysed above, I found "The Telltale Heart" the most enjoyable, perhaps because it used fewer devices associated with this genre than the other stories. ?? ?? ?? ?? Patrick Griffin ...read more.

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