H.G. Wells: ‘The Red Room’ and ‘The Cone’
The short stories ‘The Red Room’ and ‘The Cone’ by HG Wells both
heavily feature tension and suspense. The author of the two stories,
HG Wells, uses a number of techniques to create this mood and
atmosphere to keep his readers interested.
HG Wells immediately creates an air of mystery from the outset of ‘The
Red Room’ when he introduces the ‘man with the withered arm’. This
grotesque description of the man’s features, combined with his
ambiguity due to having no name given to him, helps create this air of
mystery and suspense. The term ‘tangible ghost’ helps create suspense
too, as you normally associate the term ‘ghost’ with the supernatural,
which sets up an expectation within the reader.
Wells also uses similar techniques to generate a mysterious aura and
atmosphere from the beginning of ‘The Cone’ when he describes the
ambiguous characters. He gives them no names and refers to them only
as ‘the man’ and ‘the woman’. This ambiguity creates a mysterious mood
as the reader is unaware of whom these people are. His use of words
such as ‘nervously’ and ‘whisper’ gives a suggestion that something is
going to happen and creates a nervous expectation and suspense within
Both short stories are part of the ‘Gothic’ genre and HG Wells heavily
emphasises horror and mystery throughout the two stories to create a
tense and suspenseful atmosphere. One way he creates this kind of
atmosphere is through his physical descriptions of both the location
and the characters.
In ‘The Red Room’ he describes how ‘the grand staircase picked out
everything in vivid black shadow or silvery illumination’; the use of
‘silvery illumination’ is a rather ghostly connotation and spawns a
mysterious feeling in the reader. This imagery draws the reader in as
you visualise this sudden, paranormal ‘illumination’, lighting the
room, creating a mysterious atmosphere and a tense anticipation in the
reader due to this description of the setting.
HG Wells, however, uses a different technique to create a suspenseful
mood in ‘The Cone’ by using his descriptions of the setting to
foreshadow the climax of the story. He describes the ‘big ironworks’
as a ‘turmoil of flames and seething molten iron’, foreshadowing to
the murder of Raut when he is in ‘turmoil’ himself and falls into the
furnace and is engulfed in a ‘swift breath of flame’. The constant
reference to ‘fire’ and ‘flame’ sets a nervous expectation within the
reader that the fire of the furnace is going to have some sort of play
in the outcome of the story.
Another way in which Wells generates a suspenseful mood and atmosphere
is through his use of dialogue.
When HG Wells has the narrator of ‘The Red Room’ say ‘There is neither
ghost of Earl nor ghost of Countess in that room, there is no...