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 two stories 'The Signalman' and 'The Landlady' are quite similar in the techniques used to create tension and fear, but the stories can also be very different in places.At the very start of each story, there are hints that lead to fear and tension. In 'The Signalman', there is a "glow of an angry sunset", which gives us an image of something that is hot, fierce, sinister, so we can build that up as the story continues. This also happens in '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 is disappearing, leaving the eerie glow of the moon for light. Roald Dahl sets his story at night time, at about nine o'clock when real darkness starts to set in, in the winter. The actual places, however, are quite different to each other. In 'The Landlady', there is a bed and breakfast on a middle-class suburban housing estate that looks very normal and cosy from the outside. On the inside, however, there is a strange atmosphere that compels Billy to go in, he cannot control this feeling of compulsion, "Each word was like a large black eye staring at him, holding him, compelling him, forcing him to stay where he was…" so we know that he is now trapped in there. 'The Signalman' is set near a railway, where there is an isolated signal box for the signalman to work. The surroundings are very macabre and gloomy. The signalman is usually by himself, so his unusual nature could be from his sub-conscious allowing things to play on his mind, so perhaps he will become paranoid. All of this adds to the effects of fear and tension, as it builds up throughout the stories.The authors give us a description of at least one of the central characters' backgrounds. In 'The Landlady' we are told about Billy, who was a seventeen year-old boy that was on his way to be a successful businessman from London. In 'The Signalman' we are told of the signalman. He studies maths, making him out to be a logical and rational person, not someone to believe in the supernatural world. He had also studied, in his youthful days, natural philosophy, which also implies that he would not have any interest in any ghostly nature. "He had also worked at fractions and decimals, and tried a little algebra…"We are also told a little of the narrator. "In me, he merely saw a man who had been shut up within narrow limits all his life…" But that is all we are told, this leaves us to draw our own conclusions on the sort of past he has. This past could be anything, but from the way it is described it is most likely to be something eerie to build up the tension throughout the story. Giving us...

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