THE RED ROOM
In “The Red Room” by H.G.Wells, how does the author build the tension and anxieties surrounding the experience of staying in the room?
The whole story of “The Red Room” is written in first-person so that what ever the narrators witnessing, the reader witnesses too. Fear is the basis of the story as we find out at the end. The start of the story is sets a gothic scene by having very strange people by a warm fire, “The man with the withered arm,” ”The old woman” & “The man covered by a shade.” These characters all create a sense of uneasiness about them. One character is known all the way through as “The man with the shade,” This adds mystery, fear and confusion to the reader.
We do not know the names of any of the characters so that there are questions unanswered from the start. This creates confusion and builds up the mysterious atmosphere. Tension and anxiety develops from uncertainties.
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Darkness is a main factor in this short story; Wells uses darkness because it creates fear. That fear of the unknown leaves the narrator vulnerable.
The three characters are old which indicates that they have experienced a lot in life. Repetition is used to give the narrator warning. The old woman says “It’s your own choosing” and “This night of all nights?” as if she is trying to say that there is something in that room that will harm you, this haunts the narrator as well as the reader. It brings a sense of alarm to the narrator and the reader knows that the narrator, although warned not to go will go. It is human nature to be scared and adventurous.
The journey to the red room is long and dark with a series of obstacles are shown to slow down the process of the narrators pace. The narrator mentions the “echoes”, this shows that the corridors and the stair case are going on for ever, it may even show that the house is trying to worn him not to go into the red room. “The spiral staircase” may also tell him to try and go back because it makes the reader think that it goes on for ever. The narrator takes candles with him so he is prepared to see danger. He also takes his “Revolver” which suggests that he is beginning to feel scared and he needs its protection because he may feel that he will encounter something that he may want to.
As the narrator enters the room he begins to feel a strange presences and starts to check the room “systematically”. He examines everything in order so he makes sure that he does it miss anything out, this shows that he has a lot of anxiety yet approaches that anxiety with a logical mind. The “recesses” and “alcoves” are used to create tension because they may have secrets hidden within them which adds the mystery to the surrounding of the red room. The “candles” are mentioned as the “light” and the “ocean of mystery” as “dark.” Wells talks about the candle being so small that it id not able to “pierce the opposite end of the room”, this shows that he is curious to see what is in that area and likes to be in control of the situation, that fact that he is not in control scares him a lot making his mind run wild with mysterious thoughts. The narrator is alert, but not calm. The word “pierce” creates tension because it feels like something is stopping the light from getting to the end of the room, it also creates a sense of unwelcoming.
The author shows that the narrator is thinking a lot about the ghosts and paranormal activity because he has a conversation with himself, this also shows that he is going a bit crazy, it also shows that he is trying to calm himself down by trying not to believe what the old people think is the truth.”Steady on!I said.These candles are wanted!”
The pace increases here as Wells uses compresses the sentences to build up the description of the candles going out. Each time they are re-lit; but they fail again “two candles in the remoter end of the window were eclipsed”
The narrator’s panic is palpable building to a climax where he hits his head and falls to the ground.
He wakes up finding himself in bed with bandages on his head, he tells the old people about fear and how it effected his mind.”The narrator explains to the old people that scared him. The author writes “Fear” with a capital F this is so it is personified and so it has more effect.
This is effective because fear seems to take on a personality in itself suggesting it can work against you and have power over you. This is shown by the way in which the narrator reacts to the circumstances in the red room. Wells is effective in creating tension as we have to wait and find out what really frightened people about the red room. The ending might be seen as a little disappointing because in our 21st century we would rather see what lurks behind the darkness of our mind and our surroundings.