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What Makes The Signalman An Effective Mystery Story?

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What Makes The Signalman An Effective Mystery Story ? The setting of the story creates a mysterious feeling from the start. Early on in the story Dickens begins building up the tension, the opening line says "Halloa! Below there!" this gets us immediately into the story showing us we must be follow the story carefully to understand it. This also gets the reader-asking questions like who is saying this? And whom are they speaking to? We are given an eerie description of the cutting area; we are also given an indication that there may be something wrong with the figure at the bottom of the cutting. When the narrator calls down to the figure there is no response by the figure this leads us to believe there is something more to the man. Dickens portrayal of the cutting and the tunnel is very detailed for example Zigzag and Gloomy. These words give the reader an image of the tunnel and cutting, resulting in the reader feeling involved. Dickens describes the area as "as if I had left the natural world" this tells us that there supernatural undertones running through the story. ...read more.


On page 108 we learn more about the signalman he is actually well educated and even attempts to teach himself whilst he is in the box. We learn the signalman used to be a student of natural philosophy. But then we ask ourselves the question Why would should a highly qualified man be working in a menial job? We can also see how all the meetings take place within the cutting at night is so none of the tension is lost? If the pair where to meet on a hot summers day there wouldn't be the same eerie feeling. In a later conversation between the two the signalman says, "I am troubled sir, I am troubled". This conversation continues on the second visit when the signalman's outburst is explained. We are given vivid descriptions of the spectre's actions, this is when the narrator learns why his shouting had such an effect on the man. Throughout the story there is a flow of tension and we are often led into a false sense of security like when dickens starts the sentence "next evening was a lovely evening, and I walked out early to enjoy it" this gives us hope that the story might end happily. ...read more.


The third visit is the final visit the narrator makes and is also when he discovers the tragic death. When the narrator arrives he can see there is something wrong there where crowds of men and a tent positioned next to the imposing track and tunnel the narrator inquires at the situation and is shocked to discover the death. This is where the story unravels and tie's together we find out how Tom shouts the exact same words the narrator called on his first visit. This is when the reader is left to make their own decisions as to what was going through the signalman's head. And the narrator is left thinking if he had told the signalman's superiors this problem could have been averted perhaps being treacherous would have saved a life. Summary The title of the essay was "What Makes The Signalman An Effective Mystery Story?" I feel all the points I have discussed are needed in a mystery story in order to produce an effective mystery. I feel the ending is the key part to the story because it is unexplained and leaves us tense and unsettled with many questions unanswered. William Hollis 10RAF 20/01/03 English Coursework Mrs Baker ...read more.

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