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GCSE: The Signalman

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  1. How is mystery and suspense built up through "The Signalman" and "The Red Room"

    Wells uses this feature immediately in the opening paragraph: "I can assure you", instantly the readers' knowledge is clouded as to what is being said. The reader does not know what there is to be "assure" of. This builds an air of mystery as the reader is from the outset wondering and will continue to wonder what the sentence means. This forces the reader to speculate upon what the characters are saying and thus, builds more mystery in the mind of the reader.

    • Word count: 2801
  2. Charles Dickins the signal man

    The beginning of "The Signalman" is an unconventional but effective one. Dickens has begun the story with dialogue from the narrator. It begins with two exclamatory sentences that instantaneously grab the reader's attention, "Halloa! Bellow there!" This unconventional choice is clever, as it leaves a sense of the unknown to the story, meaning that the reader doesn't really know where they are or what is really going on. It would be normal for a ghost story to start with a descriptive piece on the setting and characters, but by leaving this until later Dickens has already captured the fear of the unknown and suspense in the reader.

    • Word count: 2696
  3. The Signalman and The Yellow Wall Paper

    The narrator then heads down towards a dark tunnel where the signalman is situated, and describes it as a 'great dungeon'. Immediately, an eerie atmosphere is set here, as the place is dark and isolated - both common features of a typical horror story. As the narrator arrives to the 'dungeon', Dickens repeats the word 'gloomy': once on the 'gloomy red light', and then again to describe the 'gloomier entrance to a black tunnel'. This is highly effective as it is a significant omen to the readers that something dreadful is about to happen.

    • Word count: 2147
  4. The Old Nurse(TM)s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Signalman by Charles Dickens; what have you noticed about the narrative technique used in these ghost stories?

    This makes her seem more realistic to us, but it's as if Charles Dickens has given the narrator of The Signalman no identity. The reasons for both narrators being so caring is that firstly, Hester goes out of her way to protect Miss Rosamond even though she is not blood related nor family, but she does love Miss Rosamond and think of her as family. Secondly, the narrator of The Signalman goes and talks to the signalman and listens to his thoughts and problems, although he is a complete stranger.

    • Word count: 2123
  5. The Judges House and The Signalman Comparison

    First of all, the judge's house has a very weird sort of setting. It is set in a large, old house with high windows and tall walls, basically a very stereotypical sort of house for a mystery story. However this decrepit house is situated in the middle of a community, with a wide array of people and vehicles there. This sort of area you would expect to be safe, however this could have given Malcolm Malcolmson, the protagonist, a false sense of security as the house has high walls isolating it from the rest of the community.

    • Word count: 2330
  6. In three short stories, 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens, 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells and 'The Man with the Twisted Lip' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writers use setting to create suspense and by doing this keeping the user gripped.

    Conan Doyle is particular in describing the location of the story, this location being in the same network of streets the Jack the Ripper tormented. With Jack the Ripper never being caught, they more or less consoled themselves with the thought that the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes was rarely outwitted. Conan Doyle used the publics criticism of the police to evolve his character, and by making him an amateur detective who can solve complicated crimes, he was able use this to sell his story.

    • Word count: 2570
  7. How do the authors of The Red Room and The Signalman create suspension and tension with characterization and setting? The

    The other man's descriptions are no better, being referred to as "the man with the shade in his eyes" which gives the man an evil feel, introducing shadows and darkness into the story. Sickness is also displayed in these people as they "cough and splutter", the word splutter having been skillfully used as it disgusts us and repels us from this place where these old men are. Also worth attention is the way this man is compared with the first, "more bent, more wrinkled, more aged than the first".

    • Word count: 2114
  8. Explain what makes a good mystery story based on your understanding of three of the short stories

    In 'The Signalman' there is much more to do with the beliefs and premonitions of ghosts and visions. The signalman believes that he is seeing visions of his own death, which at the end of the story turn out to be prophetic as the signalman predicts his own death. The narrator tells the entire story from his point of view, so the reader establishes from the start, that the signalman is quite strange. The story consists of three visits from the narrator to the signalman (which links with the three wishes in 'The Monkey's Paw') and more is learned about the signalman from each visit.

    • Word count: 2149
  9. Examine the settings which the writers have chosen for their stories in 'the signal man',' the man with the twisted lip' and 'the red room', consider the effects that each writer has created and how they contribute to the atmosphere

    In the ending the reader is told what is in the room and why. This is a solution to the mystery and gives closure for the reader's speculation. 'The signalman' creates suspense because the main character does not know what is happening to him and neither does the reader. This creates suspense because the reader wants to find out what is happening - is there really a ghost? Or is the signalman going crazy from his extensive time alone in this discomforting setting?

    • Word count: 2607
  10. Consider atmosphere and setting in the 19th century stories you have read, and discuss how the authors have created fear and suspense

    'Resurrectionists' made money by digging up fresh corpses and selling them to medical schools. Rapid urbanisation occurred and so the number of deaths rose and churchyards became overcrowded, private walled cemeteries became popular. The Anatomy Act was passed in 1832, before this act only the bodies of hanged criminals could be used by the medical schools. However, this did not provide enough bodies for the growing interest in science and by this time fewer criminals were being hanged and instead were being transported.

    • Word count: 2349
  11. We have been studying a selection of ghost stories, which were written before 1914 and have rather unusual ghosts

    The final story is The Red Room, which is about whether ghosts are haunting a room in this castle. Herbert George Wells who as a young lad developed love for literature and secretly studied books in the library wrote this story. There is a haunted room in the castle. The owners believe there is an unnatural presence in the castle, which has cause the death of previous occupants. The narrator, on the other hand, is anxious to contradict this theory. The typical ghost story changed during the Victorian period because of the scientific discoveries made in the 19th century.

    • Word count: 2709
  12. Pre-1914 Prose Coursework - How do Dickens and Wells create a sinister and supernatural atmosphere in the opening of The Signalman and the Red Room? Dickens and Wells both create a sinister and supernatural

    So by the end of the visit the two men had gradually formed a firm friendship. The further meetings became more intense and there was an increased air of mystery around what the Signalman was saying. Dickens suspicion upon the newly invented trains was common amongst many Victorians, therefore the use of this fear created the desired atmosphere for the Signalman. Similarly, the story of the Red Room by H.G. Wells begins with the narrator speaking to one of the custodians about the infamous Red Room.

    • Word count: 2979
  13. The signal man and the Red Room are both pieces of unique gothic literature

    The Red Room is set in a timeless and ageless setting, it is set in the 15th century so naturally HG Wells picked a spooky old gothic castle, for the stories location. Whilst the narrator is on the way to the red room we start to get a valid image of the surroundings, the quote 'Bronze group stood..... Its shadow fell with marvellous Distinctness' Represents a mysterious setting, creating tension and making the reader read on. The narrator climbs up a staircase, the quote, 'The echoes wrang up and own the spiral staircase' We can see that he staircase is quite long and rather perplexed.

    • Word count: 2283
  14. This essay will consider four of this type of story, by short story writers of the period; Dickens' 'The Signal Man', 'The Monkey's Paw' by W W Jacobs, H G Wells' 'The Red Room' and 'The Dream Woman' by Wilkie Collins.

    I will explore all of these aspects of their writing. The location of all these short stories plays a very important role in setting the scene. They were written at the beginning of the Romantic Period which gave rise to a taste for settings removed from the everyday, as a backdrop to out of the ordinary events. Wells' gothic setting of 'The Red Room' within a small castle is typical. A further technique was to contrast a mundane or particularly modern setting with extraordinary and supernatural events. Collins sets 'The Dream Woman' in a village, whereas Dickens' location for 'The Signal Man' is an, at the time, noticeably technologically advanced area, due to the railway track.

    • Word count: 2240
  15. How typical are 'The signalman' by Charles Dickens, 'The monkeys paw' by W.W Jacobs and 'The red room' by H.G Wells of the gothic genre?

    "...turned his face towards the little bell when it did not ring, opened the door of the hut and looked out towards the red light of the tunnel" This suggests that there is a ghost around and it haunts the signalman by ringing his bell but he is the only one who can hear it. Before the narrator leaves the signalman's box the signalman promises to tell the narrator what has been troubling him. "If you ever make another visit, I will tell you".

    • Word count: 2884
  16. The Signalman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Napoleon and The Spectre. In this essay I am going to compare and contrast them. All three of these stories use gothic techniques; however they have a variety of differences as well as similarities.

    The three stories that I have read are; The Signalman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Napoleon and The Spectre. In this essay I am going to compare and contrast them. All three of these stories use gothic techniques; however they have a variety of differences as well as similarities. 'Napoleon and The Spectre,' written by Bronte and 'The Signalman' written by Dickens are examples of the type of stories that were being written at the time. Both stories have strong examples of gothic culture and the supernatural.

    • Word count: 2050
  17. How is language used to create atmosphere in The Red Room and The Signalman

    Archaisms are used throughout both stories. Archaisms are works which are old and not used today. Words such as 'apopelexy' and 'alcoves' aren't used today but are likely to still be found in the dictionary. The language used throughout both stories is rather complex and many sentences are deeply detailed. A well descriptive sentence in The Red Room is 'Their very existence was spectral; the cut of their clothing, fashions born in dead brains'. This sentence is very descriptive as after reading it you get a clear picture of what the old people in the red room look like.

    • Word count: 2431
  18. "The Signalman" and "The Red Room" are well known examples of nineteenth century ghost stories

    Both stories have managed to engage its audience by creating suspense and tension. Besides that both stories have been written in first person, this in sequence makes it sinister, in a way because we get to know the narrator's impressions and feelings. The authors of both stories have selected discomforting places in which to set their story, they are made more eerie because that in the 19th century time many people believed in ghosts and the supernatural. First of all The Signalman is located in a very isolated place, as the narrator describes "as solitary and dismal a place as I ever saw" This suggest that it is a remote, despondent place which is suitable for the supernatural to exist.

    • Word count: 2139
  19. 'The Signalman' and 'The Black Cat'

    Having the words of a person gives you a better idea of their personality. I have recently studied 'The Signalman' written by Charles Dickens and 'The Black Cat' by William Wintel. They were both written in the 19th century. 'The Signalman' is a mystery story about a man getting involved with a signalman. As he first calls down to the signalman, he becomes part of the nightmare. The writer plays the part of the detective as the story is written in the first person. He starts off as just a passer by, but notices the strange, lonely man.

    • Word count: 2289
  20. How Does Charles Dickens Use The Ghost Story Genre To Provoke Fear In Both The Victorian And Modern Reader Of "The Signalman"?

    Even though the reader has started in the middle of a story, the Narrator has not given much information away at all; we can only guess that the man being called to is the Signalman and we know nothing about the Narrator. When the signalman hears the voice, he could not have doubted the direction the voice came from, but instead of looking at the Narrator on top of the steep cutting nearly over his head, he looked down the line.

    • Word count: 2282
  21. If you are setting this submission as

    'he turned about, and looked down the line.' We are then acquainted with the characters and introduced to the problem at hand. In the Black Veil the characters are appealing whereas in the Signal man Dickens makes the characters less appealing so we can focus on the problem. The Doctor is portrayed as a optimistic man who does not dwell on gloomy thoughts. 'If he could only tell her that he had found a patient at last, and hoped to have more'. The doctors is also compassionate towards the woman in the Black Veil.

    • Word count: 2153
  22. Compare the two short stories, "The Signalman" by Dickens and "The Withered Arm" by Hardy.

    The "dark" setting deep in the trench, which admits "so little sunlight", and where the "on coming rush" of the train causes "vague vibration" and "violent pulsation" in the "earth and air" sets the mood for the supernatural occurrences. This haunts the readers as the narrator feels he has "left the natural world." Furthermore, the surroundings and atmosphere of the "lonesome post" which the Signalman occupies appears very mysterious, especially the "black tunnel." The opening scene which is set in the "cold", "damp" and "lonely" railway cutting near the end of a "tunnel" is described well, as being "Extremely deep and unusually precipitous" and "solitary and "dismal."

    • Word count: 2676
  23. Review three of the short stories you have read and say how they were typical of their genre and what ideas they explore that are still relevant today

    In Ancient Greek legends, the entrance to Hades Underworld or death was often portrayed as a dark tunnel or cave. The main character is a signalman, he is working class but "educated beyond his position". He is very particular and vigilant about his job. He has fixed eyes and "a saturnine face". The job and its position are lonely and solitary but the signalman is happy like that. He willingly worked in his environment. He gave the impression of hardly being a man, could he be a ghost or is he mentally ill?(mentally ill people often live on the edge of society in lonely positions)

    • Word count: 2839
  24. How are tension andsuspense created in 'The Signalman' and 'The Red Room'?

    Victorian railways were extremely dangerous, and a signalman's job was exceptionally strenuous and demanding. The story is basically about a hard-working signalman, who claims to have seen a spectre, warning him about future events. 'The Red Room' is more directly related to superstition. It is about a relatively young and fearless man entering a 'haunted' room, which apparently contains ghosts. His feelings towards ghosts dramatically change over the course of the story, and later concludes that 'fear' itself is what makes the place haunted. The title itself, 'The Red Room', indicates the overall nature of the story.

    • Word count: 2487

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Both The Signalman and The Darkness Out There have unexpected endings. Compare the way tension is built up in both stories so that the reader is surprised by how the stories end.

    "The writer cleverly build up tension by making you think tat the signalman is a ghost. Because this is what the narrator says and it is all the information we have so we must therefore also come to the same conclusion. It is only after the first few paragraphs that we are told about the environment "His post was in as solitary and dismal place as I ever saw" Because of this sentence we begin to know a little about the signalman, he is a lonely man by his surroundings. We then get a very detailed account of his surrounding using words like Dungeon to describe the cutting in which the signalman's box is. The writer adds tension by making the narrator wait until the next evening until he begins talk to the signalman again, also because of the fact that he asked to meet him during the evening instead of during the day. As the narrator meets the signalman more and more he begins to find out about what is troubling him. He is seeing ghosts. This now makes the story a horror. When the narrator comes to visit the signalman on the last time he finds out that he is dead. Even more strange the man saw his own death."

  • Compare ""The Signalman"" by Charles Dickens and ""The Darkness Out There"" by Penelope Lively. Show

    "Also I enjoyed the subtlety of the clues such as how danger was drawing closer to the signalman, and the use of a mystery traveller to help lead the story along. I think it was the more interesting out of the two and has a controversial ending unlike "The Darkness out There". This is because I found it very linear and I thought there was no real tension or surprise as today's morals and views all suggest what Mrs Rutter did was wrong, and everyone one would realise it. The two stories build up suspicion and tension in similar ways by having the audience asking questions, which is a very effective tool to build up tension. Also both stories have contrast, "The Signalman" shows it between the world above and the world below, and "The Darkness Out There" between light and dark. However they do differ in some areas, "The Darkness Out There" concentrates on psychology, and the idea that we judge and stereotype on appearances. "The Signalman" however has little moral to the story and is rather self-explanatory in the psychological sense. The difference between the attitudes of the stories could be explained, as through time people's p"

  • Compare and Contrast ways in which the supernatural is conveyed and used to maintain the reader's interest in 'The Signal Man' and 'The Red Room' - Refer to any other nineteenth century stories you have read.

    "In conclusion, the writers use many ways in which to create suspense in the stories, be they delaying the action, withholding vital pieces of information or even misleading the reader, these all create suspense in their own way. They are used very effectively in both of these short stories, and although the ending of 'The Red Room' is slightly disappointing, it only shows us just how much suspense has been created by Wells, as we are frustrated that this good story has such a disappointing ending. However both writers effectively create suspense in the two stories, compelling us to read the next page."

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