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Victorian And Edwardian Stories, Tension

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Introduction

Explore how writers of Victorian and Edwardian Supernatural stories build up tension in their narratives. Supernatural means anything unexplainable, for example magic powers, wizards, witches, wishes, beasts, monsters, the living dead; all resolving around the idea of, ying - yang, good and evil, dark and light. As the great saying goes, "We fear what we do not understand." To me the world of the supernatural seems a clich´┐Ż, I mean, for example, it's always at midnight that evil comes out, bad things tend to happen in three and of course, curses and bad luck. To make a good story, there are techniques or patterns that they must be followed, first there has to be an introduction to the environment, characters and lifestyle, following this there has to be a complication, be it death, love / fear, etc. then finally a solution to bind everything together. But some writers attempt to mix this up, to grab the readers' attention to the utmost limit, e.g. cliff hangers, sections left to the readers imagination, change in order of a story or a basic twist to the tale. To construct the complication, specifically in supernatural stories, writers tend to use tension; this creates a mix of emotions and engages the reader further. As this paper regards the build up of tension, I have devised a list of ways to do so in narratives: - An Ominous opening - The spooky Setting - Reference to evil past events ("bad deeds") - Building up of supernatural events - Varying the pace of writing. (more description, shorter sentences, extra paragraphs and more punctuation) - Change in language type, (accents, sounds etc) - Change in tone, when being reading aloud - Missing descriptions, (e.g. leaving the ghost to the readers imagination) - Short finale/ Cliff hangers All these and more can build up tension in any narratives. I will explain examples of these points through the stories that I studied, written by various famous writers from the Victorian and Edwardian period; ...read more.

Middle

And then finally, following the third physical threat he: "was gone: not to be found... no trace of him has ever come to light since." We later learn that in Ireland, Samson's skeleton is discovered in a well, held tight by another body, a disturbing analysis of the bodies was made, stating to "have been there thirty years or more..." this being the finale of the story through a coda. M.R. James uses this technique many times in his books, an example is "Whistle and ill come to you", were the 'ghost' comes closer and closer and closer until horrifically the 'ghost' is in the room, which is very effective and clearly proves that it is a brilliant way of building tension. The amount of paragraphs also increases as the story progresses, the shorter paragraphs were stating basics, such as settings, emotions of conversation, but the longer ones had description and more dialogue, overall building up tension, although nearing the end, this changed and the paragraphs became shorter and shorter until the climax. The language used in the story is set out in a conversation between two people, what was astonishing to me was the level of grammar used in the conversation, not once was there any slang, which means that theses people are very educated and may have a high status, and this could also show that ghost stories were very popular in Edwardian times, published in 1910, the year that King Edward VIII died. A conversation is when people talk to each other, using that structure in this story makes the reader feel as if his part of the conversation and therefore is more focal to what is happening, which in turn means that when there is tension, you lean closer to listen, but in this case your imagination flows with the words. When the story is over, so is the conversation and life continues as normal. ...read more.

Conclusion

So straight away we know that this is the root of the horror. Tension is brought through many ways in this story, including a very ominous opening "although every word of the story is as true as despair, I do not expect people to believe it." From this line the reader knows that something terrible is going to happen which is effective because the reader wants to satisfy curiosity. The first paragraph ends with: "... three... took part in this: Laura and I and another man. The other man still lives..." this implies that Laura does not survive, this short quote sums up the story but misses key points which again brings interest for the reader. The main way in which this story builds up tension is through the structure and language, the narrators emotions (fear) is never on the same wavelength, once he is very scared the next he is comfortable, an example would be when the narrator, touches the floor "the moon came out and showed ... the bodies of the man-size' were gone..." and then the "raw-boned Irish doctor" appeared and brought comfort and reason, little knowing that his wife was being killed by the stone figures. As the language and mood changes so in correlation does the readers, meaning that when there is tension it is easily interpreted. Conclusion In Victorian and Edwardian times, scary stories were very popular, the environment of mostly rural gothic style and architecture complemented to the fear and adrenaline. The thought of the Supernatural was something regular because this was the dawn of inventions; it was an exciting time for scientist and philosophers called 'thinkers'. Another word for tension would be worry, anxiety and apprehension, although building up tension requires finesse in the various techniques I have stated. I enjoyed the short stories and have the notion that even though they are reasonable old narratives, they still live to entertain readers with their experienced depth in description and formal language and grammar. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mohammed Hussein Ahmed (Asghar) 1 ...read more.

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