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Mystery And Menace In Black Veil And Signal Man

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Compare how Dickens creates a sense of mystery and menace in the
‘Black Veil’ and the ‘Signal Man’. Explain how he uses these theories
to explore his theme?

The opening of both stories are quite different. The Black Veil is
written in the third person and The Signal man is written in the first
person narrative. The Black Veil creates an atmosphere of cosiness and
warmth which is created by the items of clothing which are worn by the
doctor. ‘reposing in his dressing gown and slippers’ The atmosphere is
also created by pleasant thoughts as the doctor thinks of his native
place and dearest friends. ‘Then his mind reverted to his annual
Christmas visit to his native place and dearest friends’. There is
also a contrast within the story of the Black Veil negative against
positive for example Death and life or Squalid and cosy etc. In
contrast the Signal man’s opening draws great attention to the
audience. "Halloa! Bellow there!" Immediately there is an element of
mystery, the Signal man looks down the line instead of where the sound
is coming from. ‘he turned about, and looked down the line.’

We are then acquainted with the characters and introduced to the
problem at hand. In the Black Veil the characters are appealing
whereas in the Signal man Dickens makes the characters less appealing
so we can focus on the problem. The Doctor is portrayed as a
optimistic man who does not dwell on gloomy thoughts. ’If he could
only tell her that he had found a patient at last, and hoped to have
more’. The doctors is also compassionate towards the woman in the
Black Veil. ‘Are you ill? ’ added the doctor compassionately. In
contrast in the Signal man the first impression we gain is from an
unusual perspective ‘his figure was foreshortened and shadowed. His
physical appearance is overcast ‘a dark sallow man, with dark beard
and rather heavy eyebrows. Dickens description likens him to a ghost
‘the fixed eyed saturnine face’. "angry sunset" is used to add a
fiery red light to his dark valley, which is shown with phrases such
as "his figure was foreshortened and shadowed", and again adding an
element of mystery because the narrator says "I had shaded my eyes
with my hand before I saw him at all" to first of all, introduce the
spectre's gesture, but also to give the impression that the light
doesn't reach the valley, but skims the top and he has to block it out
to see into the darkness, and by using the word "angry", he makes the
sunlight seem almost intimidating in itself. He first plants the idea
of the Signalman not being all he seems, in the readers' minds when he
says, as the Signalman looks down the Line, "There was something
remarkable in his manner of doing so, though I could not have said,
for my life, what. But I know it was remarkable enough to attract my
notice" which...

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