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With Specific Reference to Language, Discuss how Short Story writers use the conventions of the Gothic in order to Create Tension and Suspense. Refer to Three Short Stories in detail and at least five in total.

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Introduction

With Specific Reference to Language, Discuss how Short Story writers use the conventions of the Gothic in order to Create Tension and Suspense. Refer to Three Short Stories in detail and at least five in total. Gothic short stories were popular during the Victorian age and the five discussed in this essay are set in that era too. Gothic stories are written in order to frighten the reader, using a variety of techniques that heighten tension and suspense and force the reader to read on. We are able to differentiate between tension and suspense, as they are quite different feelings, however similar they may seem on the face of it. This differentiation is important as it allows a more in depth exploration of the use of certain techniques. Tension is a state of mental or emotional strain, whilst, suspense is apprehension about what is going to happen. These frames of mind are important in Gothic literature because they are what frighten the reader; they create a sense of excitement in an otherwise mundane series of events. The narrative mode in which the story is written affects the atmosphere which is conveyed, with each different person giving a different emphasis to a particular aspect of the story. For example a third person narrative would put more emphasis on the unfolding of the story and the action. It also allows for an overview of everybody's thoughts and feelings, but whilst doing this often sacrifices the sense of unknowing or naivety, that can create tension and suspense when a story is narrated through a single person's perspective. All of the stories I have chosen with the exception of The Withered Arm, are written in first person narrative. First person narrative allows an in depth description of the person's emotions and thought processes, such as reasoning the inexplicable. It also shows the degree of confidence the narrator shows. ...read more.

Middle

Thus physical isolation was far more frightening and would create nervous tension in both the reader and the character. In The Speckled Band there is an evident contrast between how the proximity of the house relative to the town is described during the day and at night. This contrast is because of the fear and emotions that the narrator, Watson, is feeling. In the light of day, the town is described as "some distance" ie not very far. However there is no danger present at this time and the desire to seek help is not there. From Watson's perspective it is a short distance. Contrary to this, during "the dreadful vigil" the sounds of the parish clock are "far away". This suggests to the reader that Watson and Holmes feel isolated, help is distant and they are on their own. The sense of someone being close is comforting for a person, especially someone who is in mortal danger. Removing this comfort creates suspense, emotional strain on the reader because it removes a way that the story could be resolved. As well as physical isolation there can be psychological isolation, this is what Rhoda feels in The Withered Arm. She is secluded from the other people in the village, she lived in a "lonely spot", and the other milkmaids didn't talk to her. The isolation is clarified in the chapter title, "A Lorn Milkmaid". This tells the reader that the narrator is forgotten and cast out of society. This isolation is what the reader assumes makes her appear mad, and increases suspense because we don't know at the beginning of story why she has been cast out of society. There is a desire to understand that isn't fulfilled. In Freudian psychology, isolation can be the ability to disconnect emotional responses to a situation; this plays a part in being logical and analytical about a situation. ...read more.

Conclusion

The desire to learn and understand is the driving force of all of our achievements and so it is na�ve to not exploit this when writing a story or novel. Asking questions in a story, creates a desire in the reader to know the answer. The more information that is provided the more the desire to know the answer is increased. This creates a very high level of tension and suspense. In The Mortal Immortal the "elixir" supposedly has the power to make a human immortal. This question isn't answered straight away. A question subsequently followed by the answer doesn't have the same level of impact as slowly providing the answer. I have the ability to enjoy the five stories as much as anyone else, however I have a very logical mind that seeks out scientific and logical explanations to things. The stories that concentrate on supernatural do not appeal to me as much as the other stories. For example The Red Room could be explained by a draught emanating from the open windows that blew out the candles. For me the story which has the ability to create the most tension and suspense is The Speckled Band because, all the way through the reader knows that there is going to be a scientific explanation. It isn't reliant on the fact that the reader believes there is an unknown supernatural force present. I understand that a story has to have excitement in it to make it interesting so I believe that, both darkness and isolation are effective at increasing tension and suspense. The darkness has the ability to do this without forcing the reader to revert to a supernatural explanation. Ruin and decay rely on the supernatural to create tension and suspense and so I don't consider these an important aspect in the story. In conclusion I think that the most important aspect in the Gothic literature is the unknown, unanswered questions that compel the reader to read on and find the answer. ...read more.

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