Explore How Victorian Writers Use Character And Setting To Create Suspense

3867 words - 15 pages

Explore how Victorian writers use character and setting to create suspenseGhost stories were very popular in 18th and 19th century Britain, when horror classics such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula were first written. In these stories, normal people find themselves faced with supernatural, and sometimes horrifying occurrences. Pieces of horror or ghost fiction from this period are known as "Gothic". Gothic literature contains eerie settings and gory imagery, for example many tales from this era will feature large, old houses, creaky staircases and gargoyle statues. Architectural details such as these are included to scare the reader, and to create tension. Many gothic stories are set at night, because nighttime is usually most associated with scary, mysterious or supernatural happenings.These stories were seen as amazingly exciting and controversial at the time, as the writers presented the reader with thrilling tales set in a spooky, gothic setting. Nowadays, with the development of film-making and special effect technology, these works of literature are read less. However, many directors have recreated the excitement of these tales on screen, and many people still enjoy reading horror fiction.I am going to be comparing three ghost stories from this period, concentrating on how the writers use character and setting to build tension and scare the reader. The stories are; The Signalman by Charles Dickens, The Red Room by H.G Wells, and Elizabeth Gaskell's The Old Nurse's Story. In The Signalman, a station worker retells his experiences of a ghostly figure who causes death on the railway line. The Red Room is about a skeptical man who enters a haunted room and experiences th torment of the ghost who resides there. Finally, The Old Nurse's Tale is the story of a woman and her child who return from the dead to haunt the woman's sister, who had allowed them to be killed fifty years before by their brutal father. The main theme of all of these works is ghosts and haunting. In The Signalman, the rail track is haunted, in The Red Room, a room in an old castle is haunted, and in The Old Nurse's Story, the grounds of a large, (also) very old house is the haunted area.In the Red Room, description of setting is used to great effect. Even the title creates suspense, as the reader wonders what the room is, and why it is red. This may intrigue them and encourage them to read the story. At the beginning, H.G Wells describes the housekeeper's room. He uses description which tells the reader that there is something odd about the house. Once example of this is; "the queer old mirror at the end of the room". The word queer means strange, and so this unnerves the reader, and helps build tension, as they wonder if the mirror is of any significance. Antique mirrors are often used in gothic stories because they fit with the old-fashioned architecture of the time, and are associated with bad luck. Mirrors also reflect shadows in a dark room, to...

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