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Victorian Horror Stories

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What methods do the writers use in order to create mood, atmosphere and character in the short stories you have studied? Over the last few weeks, we have been studying in detail several pre-1914 horror stories. In particular ones that were written in the period of the Industrial Revolution in England. The Industrial revolution was no doubt a very troubling time for Victorians; dramatic alterations were introduced to major areas of Victorian society. Normality was taken away from them and replaced by a repetitive yet unknown routine. It is therefore no coincidence that there was an increase in stories written in the horror genre. It was the fear and uncertainty of the new, refined civilisation that inspired writers to create the horror stories that we have read. The beginning of every story is fundamental; it is the first genuine opportunity that the writer has to entice the reader. Consequently, in all of the texts that we studied, the author incorporates the above mentioned narrative techniques to enhance the opening scene, establishing the horror genre. This is demonstrated in the opening of 'The Signalman' when the author immediately puts the focus on the main character of the story. ...read more.


The phrase "It is your own choosing" is repeated in the opening of the story, it insinuates to the readers that the elders know something incredibly ghastly and are therefore very insistent that they have nothing to do with it. This creates tension and contributes to a daunting atmosphere. The author H.G Wells portrays the old man as "wrinkled and aged with decaying yellow teeth." This unpleasant description creates a gruesome and repugnant mood as well as suggesting that the man could be a candidate for playing the perpetrator of evil in 'The Red Room'. The other main character in 'The Red Room' is a young, confident man who is so fearless that he is prepared to go against the elder's advice and stay overnight in the red room, "it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me." H.G Wells has decided to write this character in the first person which shows his intent for the reader to admire the young man and aspire to have the self-belief and conviction that the man has throughout the story. In Victorian times aspects of the supernatural were very prominent in day to day society. Ostracized members of a community were often branded as witches and blamed for tragic events that sometimes occurred. ...read more.


"It's Herbert! She screamed" and "The bolt, she cried loudly" are examples of this. The noise factor will also help to construct a distressing mood. Victorians were obsessed with the unexplainable. This inspired readers to end their stories on cliff-hangers or with questions unanswered. In 'The Signalman' we wonder why the stranger hears the bell at the end, is it just a coincidence? In 'The Monkey's Paw' we debate over what the last wish was. In the 'Red Room' we still don't know what it is that's causing the "black fear" and finally in 'Lost Hearts' we question whether the explanation given is actually the case. My favourite ending is definitely the one in 'The Monkey's paw', because it is action-packed and horrific. What more could you ask for? Not only was it really well written, it had an exciting and unexpected finale. I believe each story has a specific social/historical context. In 'The Signalman', Dickens explains his feelings towards the Industrial Revolution which was occurring at the time. He warns us of the heavy mental and physical pressures that the Industrial Revolution burdens you with. 'The Monkey's Paw' suggests that an extensive British Empire might not be such a good idea. There are suggestions that we should concentrate on our own country and stay out of foreign business, "better where you are". ...read more.

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