A Comparison of The Signalman and The Red Room
The Signalman and the Red Room are well known examples of nineteenth
century ghost stories. Write a critical comparison of these two
stories. What do you consider to be their strengths and which of the
stories do you enjoy the most.
Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells were both living during the Victorian
era. The many radical changes in this era tainted their writing. Both
Wells and Dickens were against the social situation at the time, this
is evident in their writings. Although Britain had many colonies,
wealth was not circulating amongst its people. This made life
unbearable for some. Dickens and Wells spoke out against this and were
concerned with the fate of human society. Dickens wrote many books
plays and pamphlets, as well as giving talks, on the effect of an
unjust society. Wells, also thought about the effect of an unjust
society, but was also interested in science.
In The Signalman much of the story takes place outside, this outside
atmosphere is embellished with plenty of detail giving it a hesitant
environment. In the Red Room the action is all inside the castle, so
the detail is described in the corridor through to the room itself.
The Signalman has a cold damp effect due to the settings. This
compliments the storyline perfectly. The "jagged stone" walls became
"oozier and wetter" as the visitor descends to the signalman. The
"dripping-wet walls" give an impression of clamminess and bitter cold.
The area where the signalman spent most of his time had "little
sunlight" it was also very gloomy. The wind ran through the tunnel and
gives the impression of leaving "the natural world", thus the weather
gives an unwelcoming impression of this dark depressing place.
In the Red Room the action is all inside the castle, so the detail is
described in the corridor through to the room itself. In the Red Room
the visitor is travelling through a corridor and then into a room. The
corridor is "shadowy" and the visitor has to move his candle "from
side to side" he does this to see what is before him on either side,
before actually moving on. This creates an atmosphere of tension even
before he reaches the Red Room. When the visitor enters the red room
he notices a "shadow in the alcove", this alarms him and he does not
feel quite alone with the presence of the shadow. To "reassure myself"
he places candles in various places to block all shadows from forming.
In The Signalman Dickens uses large sentences so the result is
therefore trying to create an effect of ongoing images in the mind of
the visitor and in the setting of the place. Dickens also uses long
sentences in The Signalman, when he is describing the setting. This is
because he is trying to create an image in the readers mind; this is
achieved by long descriptions. An array...