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With close reference to "The Black Veil" and "The Signalman" consider how successful they are as mystery stories. In your answer you should consider:-the criteria for a good mystery story-the use of structure to build suspense

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Introduction

GCSE English Literature Assignment C: Response to Prose published before 1914 With close reference to "The Black Veil" and "The Signalman" consider how successful they are as mystery stories. In your answer you should consider: -the criteria for a good mystery story -the use of structure to build suspense -the characters -the settings -the endings -the social, historical and cultural contexts -anything else you consider relevant Dickens is a successful mystery story writer. In both the "The Black Veil" and "The Signalman," Dickens uses linguistic devices to build up suspense and tension. As a common feature of short stories, Dickens keeps minimal characters with only two main characters in the stories. He keeps both stories full of suspense by keeping a character in each story mysterious and each story has an unexpected twist at the end. Dickens uses structure to engage suspense in the stories and stimulate the reader's imagination. He divides the stories into sections of descriptive passages and then leads into dialogue. By using this structure Dickens excites curiosity in the reader. ...read more.

Middle

The Doctor acts as we might act in the same situation with his first instinct being to visit the patient and help him. The narrator in 'The Signalman' asks the questions that we as readers might ask. In contrast to this the characters of the 'Black Veil' and the 'Signalman' are disturbed and enigmatic. By presenting the 'Black Veil' and the 'Signalman' in this way Dickens engages the reader's interest and we want to know what has disturbed them so profoundly. In 'The Signalman' the narrator is in a position to see the signalman at work and has complete confidence that he can do his job very well. However, he notices odd behaviour in the Signalman which he describes as an 'inexplicable air' which was the same strange manner or air the man gave at the beginning of the story when the man called 'halloa.' The signalman repeats the phrase, 'I am troubled' which reinforces the anxieties felt by the man and heightens tension and suspense. Typical of Dickens' writing, he withholds the information to create mystery, building up suspense. ...read more.

Conclusion

As was typical of eighteenth century stories, both of Dickens' stories had a twist at the end. In 'The Signalman' he was killed by the train after the train driver giving him the same warning as the man had described of the ghost. 'The Signalman' ends abruptly leaving the reader to muse. In the story of 'The Black Veil' there is the revelation that the man killed was the woman's son and was hanged. This story carried a moral which was common of many stories of this time. Unlike 'The Signalman' this story did not end abruptly but instead had a short narrative paragraph to end it. In conclusion I feel that Dickens was a successful mystery story writer. I think that he succeeds in building up suspense and mystery in 'The Signalman' by describing in great details the railway and withholding the information about the ghost in order to build suspense. I think that because in the stories the signalman had told it had always been others harmed, it was unexpected that it would end up in his death. The abrupt ending made me unsettled and let me ponder over the story. I think this was very successful as a mystery story. ...read more.

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