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Which of the two short stories studied did you most enjoy and why? In your critique explain briefly where each story is set, when and what happens.

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Thursday, 2nd March, 2004 Wayne Owens Literature G.C.S.E Prose Critique Q = Which of the two short stories studied did you most enjoy and why? In your critique explain briefly where each story is set, when and what happens. Despite your preference, comment on whether both stories meet the criteria for good ghost fiction. Make close reference to the writers' skills and language (make comparisons.) _______________________________________________________ After reading 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'Harry' by Rosemary Timperley, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer 'Harry'. Both stories, however, are brilliantly written ghost stories with well-created atmospheres and plots that create tension and suspense. 'The Signalman', by Charles Dickens, is a pre-20th century story which is set in the 1800's. It takes place by a train line and in a signal box which is occupied by the signalman. In the story the signalman befriends a man and later confides in him that he has seen an 'appearance' at the entrance to the train tunnel. He tells the man, who is the narrator of the story, that after he has seen the appearance something bad has always happened. After the first sighting, a train crash took place where a number of people died and, after the second sighting, a young lady died whilst on a train. The signalman then explains that he has recently seen the appearance again and is worried what might happen. ...read more.


Being in this environment is not a pleasant experience for the narrator and in a way we feel his discomfort. Although 'Harry' appears to be set in a very different setting, in a loving, happy and familiar home environment, it is later described to be 'strangely cold' to Mrs James. Both stories are, for the main character, familiar environments which they are used to but later represent fear. Although the atmosphere of the signalman is depressing and dark, the signalman is used to this area and it is familiar to him so he does not feel frightened because of his surroundings, but only because of the 'spectre'. Both stories contain many literary devices which emphasise the atmospheres that the writer has created. In 'the Signalman', Dickens has used personification to describe the sun: 'the glow of an angry sunset' This description of the sun acts as a warning to the narrator. The word 'angry' implies that the sun does not want the narrator to be there. It is inhospitable and not welcoming. Dickens has also used enjambement to help create an atmosphere that provides the reader with a false sense of security. It also provides a contrast fro the paragraphs before and afterwards. 'Next evening was a lovely evening, and I walked out early to enjoy it. The sun was not yet quite down*********************** The long flowing sentences create a happy, positive and comfortable atmosphere which is quickly abolished when the narrator sees the 'appearance' which the signal man has described. ...read more.


Although a main character dies at the end of each story, the story endings are very different. In both stories the climax and ending have little space between them which makes the stories even more dramatic. At the end of 'The signalman' the main character dies and his life ends but in 'Harry' we see Mrs James as the one main character and, still suffering, her life has to go on. We never really know what has happened to Christine and in the story Mrs James is the only one who knows that Harry has taken Christine. With both stories, when we reach the end our questions are immediately answered. The ending of 'Harry' is particularly clever as the last paragraph is exactly the same as the beginning. However, at the end this paragraph is more clear and we understand it a lot more. The stories are similar in another way. Both Mrs James and the signalman feel alone and they cannot tell anyone else how they feel because they will not be believed. Mrs James said: 'He thought I was going 'round the bend'' Both her husband and her daughter are moving further and further away fro her. In conclusion, I feel that both stories are brilliantly written ghost stories with well created atmospheres and plots that create tension and suspense. However, I prefer 'Harry' because the language is more familiar and accessible. The story has a brilliant story line which keeps the reader full of suspense and the end is a very good twist ...read more.

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