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Who or what do you think is to blame for the tragic events at the end of three or four of the short stories that you have read?

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Introduction

Who or what do you think is to blame for the tragic events at the end of three or four of the short stories that you have read? In considering the question, I found that it applied very well to "The Black Veil", and "The Signalman", both by Charles Dickens, "The Monkey's Paw", by W.W.Jacobs and "The Yellow Wallpaper", by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The stories all have their own tragic endings. These short stories reflected the times, a time where religious and supernatural beliefs were a lot stronger than they are today. Therefore, stories involving supernatural activity were especially popular. I think the Victorian writers took advantage of short stories to leave the reader asking many questions, adding a degree of mystery and freedom for the reader to believe different endings. "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens is a story of isolation and loneliness, with the visitor acting as the narrator. The signalman was "educated above his station", but he had to spend "many long and lonely hours", trapped "in between high stone walls". I think there is a particular importance of the setting of story. He is "trapped", in his own "world", beneath ground level. He knows nothing else. He is almost doomed to die in the noisy grave before seeing the "angry sunset". The place is carved out of "clammy stone which became oozier and wetter", as it gets deeper.Because of his loneliness, one of his only activities was being prepared for the ring of his electric bell and "listening for it with redoubled anxiety". ...read more.

Middle

I think the purpose of the story was to highlight the poverty in villages. The author does this by making the victim of the story, the woman's son, be executed. What is of particular importance, is that he is not hanged for any crime, it is stealing as a result of poverty. Even worse for the mother is the fact that she sacrificed everything she had. She denied herself of all luxuries for him to stand a good chance of having a normal life and that was how he repaid her. I think his death was mostly his own fault but society may have been slightly to blame for not helping the poor financially.. There could not be a stronger sense of foreboding in the story. The woman is wearing "a black veil". The title alone gives the connotation of death and mourning. There is almost no supernatural sense in it, except maybe at the end; because of his "pecuniary donations", he was repaid "a thousand-fold". This was because of the lady's prayer "which flew to heaven, and was heard". Her prayer was for his "welfare and protection". In "The Monkey's Paw", I think the community, like Mr White, pretend not to believe in "fancies" like the monkey's paw but deep down they are curious and wish to try it. That is why Mr White rescued it from the fire. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is depicted by a time in the story when she says that she "must not let him" find her. She is his partner but not his other half. But at the very end there is a role-reversal and she tells him that he is too late and calls him a "young man". The main character in the "Yellow Wallpaper" has had to suffer from isolation and loneliness, if she was suffering from "temporary hysteria", I think her prison played a big part in making it worse. She had no friends, just the pattern to keep her "quiet by the hour". There is a lot of supernatural activity occurring, and one of the questions that I was left to think about, was whether the room had the ability to record past events and let later generations experience them. But, on the other hand it is possible that the lady was mad, "the bars on the wallpaper", are probably the shadows of the light coming through her window, but on the other hand they could be symbolic. Very few Victorian writers were female, but Charlotte Perkins Gilman was quite a feminist and she seems to reflect this in her text. She describes well how poor and miserable women's quality of life was. I think that John was to blame, for neglecting her and leaving her starved for attention. I think John maybe did it accidentally, but I think that if she was "allowed" to walk around the house, and do things, including nursing the "dear baby", her condition would be far better. ...read more.

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