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Which of the Two Horror Stories: "The Monkey's Paw" or "The Signalman" Do you prefer?

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Introduction

Which of the Two Horror Stories: "The Monkey's Paw" or "The Signalman" Do you prefer? The theme of horror is easiest to portray through visual forms, such as in a movie. As there can be no visual or audible elements in text, when an author wishes to write a horror story there are certain elements he or she must use in order to make the story horrific. Authors use these various elements to differing effects, relying upon some more than others. From the two horror stories I have read, "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W.Jacobs and "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens, this is clearly visible. W.W.Jacobs focuses on the plot of his story while Dickens' technique uses a great deal of description to create a realistic setting. Of these diverse elements I prefer some more than others. One element that I favour is the use of a twist or shock at some stage in the story. Involvement with the supernatural and magic also draws me in; I feel it provides a change from reality and allows us to use our imagination. On the whole I tend to prefer traditional horror stories and this brings about my liking for a stereotypical horror setting. One element that I have mixed views about is the "unknown". I enjoy its use throughout the story as it offers another chance for me to use my imagination. However, I prefer to learn the "unknown" before the end, rather than be to left with a cliff-hanger. One element that I dislike is too much description as I find it distracting from the main plot and horror of the story. On the other hand I enjoy short vivid description which builds up the tension. Similarly I prefer to have simply described settings and characters instead of in depth ones. For these reasons I generally prefer, "The Monkey's Paw" as a horror story rather than "The Signalman". ...read more.

Middle

We are told nothing about their personality and they are not shown to have any unexpected traits, indeed any average family can represent the White's. We do not get attached to them and because of this the death of Herbert White is not as horrific to us as it potentially could have been. The White's used humour mixed with frivolity to deal with the fixation of the monkey's paw. This attitude towards the powers of the Paw portrayed the Whites as a family who enjoyed joking with one another and did not take anything out of the ordinary too serious. It also shows that they lacked an understanding of the ramifications of their actions. Therefore, the thought of actually getting their wish granted was a farfetched idea. You can tell by the playful banter exchanged between father and son as well as husband and wife, that the Whites were a family who loved to joke around. Herbert is the main protagonist of the family. He is the one who instigates most of the banter. Even though the characters are not described in great detail they still play an essential role in the horror of the story. The image we create in our minds of Herbert knocking at the front door of Laburnum Villa after coming back to life is truly horrific. Our imagination conjures up his mangled form even though we are not directly told about his appearance and this makes it horrifying. As this is one of the central pieces of horror in "The Monkey's Paw" the characters are important to its development. The appearance of Sergeant-Major Morris is the first hint of mystery in the story. When asked questions he is hesitant and is avoiding the subject of the monkey's paw. This made the White's, as well as the readers more eager to know the mystery attached to it. He is a very anonymous character as when he speaks about the monkey's paw and how it came to him, he mentions another ...read more.

Conclusion

White approached the opportunity with the monkey's paw carelessly. The monkey's paw's external force initially had no effect on Mr White. However, when his son coaxed him to make a wish for 200 pounds he obliged just to please him and his wife. "The Signalman" also has supernatural elements of its own. In similar ways to "The Monkey's Paw" it also uses the "magic number three". This is shown by the signalman being killed by the third train and on the third time he saw the spectre. In the signalman there are also direct descriptions of spirits and other such supernatural element, whereas in the monkey's paw we are left to imagine for ourselves. "As I perused the fixed eyes and the saturnine face, that this was a spirit, not a man. There is also no reason given for the signalman's death so this leaves us the possibility that it could have been coincidence just like Herbert's could have been. Overall I prefer "The Monkey's Paw" as a horror story rather than "The Signalman". One thing I love about "the Monkeys Paw" is how W.W. Jacobs does not describe the setting or characters in much detail but still manages to make them tie in so closely with the horror. I also greatly enjoy how we are told about what is to come through the chess game at the beginning, I also think that this keeps the story entertaining even if you read it again. Both stories have fairy tale elements to them which use the magic number three and I enjoy this as it always leaves rooms for suspicions and doubts in your mind weather it happened on the third time by coincidence or for a reason. One reason I do not favour "The Signalman" is because I do not find the end satisfying enough and I think it leaves the story hanging. Also as I have stated I find all aspects of it described in too much detail. For these reasons I prefer "The monkey's paw" as a horror story. By Rohan Shah ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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