How does H.G.Wells develop atmosphere and suspense in the opening section of The Red Room?

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Harry Sandford

English Mr. Willis

How does H.G.Wells develop atmosphere and suspense in the opening section of “The Red Room”?

H.G.Wells builds up suspense and tension by using a range of writing techniques such as personification, descriptive language and emphasis.

In the first paragraph, H.G.Wells shows that the protagonist/narrator is alone. This is shown by the use of “I” on the first line. This also shows that the extract is written in first person. This shows that the protagonist is alone and vulnerable. This gives the effect on the reader that he is in the room on his own and is open to an attack.

Wells uses repetition to emphasise words. The author repeats the word “vigil” on line 3 and 6. Also this is repeated at the start of paragraph 5. Vigil means to stay awake to watch or prey. Vigil can also mean the eve of a religious festival, this can be linked to the reason why the protagonist is doing what he is doing and H.G.Wells could have meant for this pun but could have been coincidental. I think he meant this pun so the readers could interpret it in many different ways.  

H.G.Wells uses a variety of language and descriptive words to describe The Red Room. H.G.Wells describes the room with this sentence “large sombre room, with its shadowy window bays”. This helps the reader imagine the room in their own way. I believe this is the most powerful two words in the opening paragraph are “sombre” and “shadowy”. These two words have a big impact on the reader, they give the feeling of a dark gothic style room. “Sombre” means dark and gloomy, this gives the image to the reader that there either is shadows in the room or there is a faint light source. This will give the effect of darkness, people are not scared of darkness but that are frightened of what can be lurking in the dark. This is an example of generic horror.

One of the influential phrases that H.G.Wells uses in the first paragraph is “germinating darkness”. Germinate means to begin or cause to develop and grow. Darkness is not a living thing and therefore cannot grow, this is an example of personification. This gives the effect on the reader that the darkness is slowly creeping in on our protagonist and has become alive. This gives and eerie sense and creates atmosphere from the language being used by H.G.Wells.

The closing phrase of paragraph one is “island of light”. This is a metaphor and it is describing the candle he had lit, he is saying how it is not strong enough to reach the whole way across the room. This gives the effect on the reader of it only being a tiny bit of light and it being surrounded by darkness, that being the sea and the candle/light being the island. There are still some shadows not being covered by the vast amount of candles being lit. It is a surrounding darkness around the candle.

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On the first line of paragraph 2 H.G.Wells uses “systematic examination” to describe how the protagonist searches the room. This implies that the narrator had been and searched this room or a room like this before. This gives me the idea that the narrator is searching for something and I believe this is ghosts. He checks there are no secret passages so nothing can get in. Wells uses “fastening of the door” to show the feeling of our protagonist. This shows how the narrator is alone and vulnerable. This is because he needs reassurance that nobody can get in. ...

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