This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Atmosphere In Charles Dickens' The Signalman

1213 words - 5 pages

Atmosphere in Charles Dickens' The Signalman

'The Signal-man' is a ghostly thriller by Charles Dickens. Based on an
apparently hallucinating signal-man and the tales of his
hallucinations, the story is seen through the eyes of the narrator, a
man told of the signal-mans troubles during conversations with the
signal-man himself. From the beginning of the story, the atmosphere is
both eerie and gloomy.

To produce this type of atmosphere, Dickens had to draw on several
different aspects of English literature-mostly through description and
use of language. The setting is described meticulously, producing
vivid images in the mind of the reader. For example, when the narrator
and the signal-man first encounter each other, the strange, mysterious
atmosphere is set already.

"…his figure was…down in the deep trench, and mine was high above him,
so steeped in the glow of an angry sunset…"

This indicates that their first meeting is at the onset of night.
Also, the signal-mans station is very low down, making it quite
difficult to contact him.

The narrator later asks the signal-man if he can "come down and
speak". The signal-man points out a path described thus:

"The cutting was extremely deep, and unusually precipitate. It… became
oozier and wetter as I went down."

But this description is a mere hint of the stories tone in comparison
to the delineation of the signal-mans station. From this depiction,
the reader can easily visualise the setting.

"…this great dungeon…terminating in a gloomy red light and a gloomier
entrance to a black tunnel…there was a barbarous, depressing and
forbidding air. So little sunlight ever found its way to this spot
that it had an earthy, dead smell…as if I had left the natural world."

A scary, haunting scene is produced. Almost the entire story takes
place in this setting, so the atmosphere is almost permanently tense
and deathly.

From there on, the story is mainly following a conversation between
the narrator and the signal-man. During their dialogue, there are
quite a few references to a fire in the 'cabin', which indicates that
it is quite dark. When their talk is over, they decide to meet again
at eleven the next night.

When the characters get to talking about the signal-mans first
encounter with the 'spectre', the signal-man describes the setting of
this experience fearfully.

"I stopped and held my lamp above my head…and saw the wet stains
stealing down the walls and trickling through the arch. I ran out
again, faster than I had run in (for I had a mortal abhorrence of the
place upon me)…"

This quotation conveys the signal-mans feelings of fear and anxiety

Later on, when the men look for the spectre at the tunnel,
significance is put upon the mouth of the tunnel in a way that makes

Find Another Essay On Atmosphere in Charles Dickens' The Signalman

The Language in The Red Room by H G Wells and The Signalman by Charles Dickens

911 words - 4 pages The Language in The Red Room by H G Wells and The Signalman by Charles Dickens Throughout, The Signalman has suspense and the tension is gripping, as the author, Dickens, has used exceedingly good description in the language and the setting is just perfect. Dickens had an advantage when writing this story as there were similarities between himself and some of the characters; since he had been involved in a train

Techniques Used by Charles Dickens to Create Mystery in The Signalman

1502 words - 6 pages “…student of natural philosophy, and had attended lectures.” This lets the reader know that he has intelligence. Yet we also discover that “he had run wild, misused his opportunities, gone down and never risen again.” So we are left wondering whether he should be trusted. Dickens keeps us guessing because at times we hear that the signalman was “…one of the safest of men employed in that capacity,” however he also shows moments of “…feverish distress

The Signalman, by Charles Dickens; The Battler by Ernest Hemingway

2556 words - 10 pages The Signalman, by Charles Dickens; The Battler by Ernest Hemingway - In what way do the two authors create and maintain interest and suspense in their stories? In Charles Dickens' 'The Signalman' the story starts by introducing the main character (a railway signalman). Another character is also introduced: the narrator. Dickens describes the signalman as a 'dark sallow man' and as having a 'dark beard' and 'heavy eyebrows'. It seems

Mystery in Charlotte Bronte's Napoleon and the Spectre and Charles Dickens' Signalman

2279 words - 9 pages Mystery in Charlotte Bronte's "Napoleon and the Spectre" and Charles Dickens' "Signalman" The two stories that I have been studying are 'Napoleon and the Spectre' and the 'Signalman' written by Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens respectively. Both the stories are set in the nineteenth century, a period of time when the country was experiencing rapid change. Bronte's story 'Napoleon and the Spectre' is a story about the Emperor of

Charles Dickens' The Signalman and A Birthday by Karen Mansfield

3910 words - 16 pages Charles Dickens' The Signalman and A Birthday by Karen Mansfield A signalman is a short story written by Charles Dickens. This is a story about a signalman who is driven “mad” by the environment of his work, away from sunlight and people. But he was not alone; a supernatural ghost decides to accompany him too. He has a lot of responsibilities to shoulder. There are only two characters that really are prominent in the short story

Is the reader expected to view the signalman's account of events as reliable in Charles Dickens' story "The Signalman"?

762 words - 3 pages The story "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens, is a ghost story set by a railway line. Dickens writes the story in the 1st person, as if he himself is meeting the signalman with the disturbing past. The story is slightly unclear, however, as to whether the audience are expected to accept the signalman's version of events or to question them.The narrators own view of the signalman's version of evens wavers throughout the story. To start with, he

A Comparison between 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells

3646 words - 15 pages A Comparison between 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells 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

The Signalman by Charles Dickens and The Red Room by H G Wells

2245 words - 9 pages Dickens lived in the nineteenth century, which was also known as 'the age of steam'. During this era, the usual form of transport was by stagecoach. It is therefore suprising that 'The Signalman' is set within the context of a railway, with the railway being associated with death. In writing this story Charles Dickens shows his interest in trains. H G Wells' life spanned the nineteenth and twentieth century. He was a rationalist and a socialist

Compare the techniques used to create tension and fear in the two stories "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens and "The Landlady" by Roald Dahl

1248 words - 5 pages 'The Landlady'. "But the air was deadly cold and the wind was like a flat blade of ice on his cheeks". This has a very similar effect on us. The word "deadly" suggests that the place is very eerie, and gloomy and the wind is described as a "flat blade of ice" - like the blade of a knife, it could kill someone, and so it fits with the word "deadly".Each story is set in an unnatural time of day. Charles Dickens sets his story at sunset, when the sun

Compare 'The Signalman,' by Charles Dickens, and 'Lamb to the Slaughter,' by Roald Dahl and discuss how both authors generate a sense of suspense in the stories

802 words - 3 pages highlight violent deaths.'The Signalman,' is a short story written by Charles Dickens in the nineteenth century. At this time England was going through a lot of changes. It was the industrial revolution. Among the new technologies was the creation of the railway system. This story is Dickens way of expressing his doubts and possibly his fear of these changes. Despite there being over a hundred years between when the two stories were written, there

How does Charles Dickens use the ghost story genre to provoke fear in both Victorian and modern reader of 'The Signalman'?

2318 words - 9 pages How does Charles Dickens use the ghost story genre to provoke fear in both Victorian and modern reader of 'The Signalman'?Ghost stories have many conventions. For example the setting is typically a dark gloomy place like a castle with thick fog and strange noises. Other conventions of the genre have the ghost being a white billowing shape floating above the ground. Sometimes, like in this story ghost story are used to explore things. For example

Similar Essays

The Signalman By Charles Dickens Essay

3415 words - 14 pages place within the cutting. I think this is so that none of the tension is lost, because of this reason the tension is well sustained throughout. Again the signalman and the narrator only ever meet at night, "I will come at eleven" this keeps the tension due to the darkness. Charles Dickens knows well what he is doing because the tension would be lost if they were to meet on a sunny midday. In addition, the darkness impairs the signalman's

Suspense And Tension In Charles Dickens' The Signalman

1585 words - 6 pages Suspense and Tension in Charles Dickens' The Signalman In the Charles Dickens' story the narrator meets the signalman who is confessing to him his problems. The narrator comes every night to find out that the signalman was seeing a ghost of a man, who was pointing out that certain train accidents are going to happen. After a few days the narrator goes peacefully to the signalman's shed, and finds out that he

Tension And Atmosphere In The Red Room By H.G.Wells, The Signalman By Charles Dickens And A Withered Arm By Thomas Hardy

2531 words - 10 pages Tension and Atmosphere in "The Red Room" by H.G.Wells, "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens and "A Withered Arm" by Thomas Hardy To investigate tension and atmosphere, I have looked at three pre1900 pieces- 'The Red Room' H.G.Wells, 'The Signalman,' Charles Dickens, & 'A Withered Arm' Thomas Hardy. They use a variety of different techniques, each with their own individual style but achieving the same overall effect. They focus on setting

How Dickens Creates Atmosphere In The Opening Of "The Signalman" By Referring To The Way He Describes The Signalman's Character

566 words - 2 pages Dickens manages to create atmosphere in the beginning of "The Signalman" by portraying the signalman as a withdrawn and deliberate man. The way that the signalman looks down the tracks rather than upwards after being greeted by 'halloa! Below there'. A greeting which there could have been no confusion as to where it came from. This reveals to us that the signalman is a strange character with a somewhat indescribable manner of doing things.After