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Nineteenth Century Short Stories And The Gothic Genre

744 words - 3 pages

Nineteenth Century Short Stories and the Gothic Genre

The three short stories that I have chosen to compare and contrast
are: The Signalman by Charles Dickens, An Arrest by Ambrose Bearcy and
Napoleon and the Spectre by Charlotte Brontë. All these stories were
completed by the mid to late eighteenth hundreds.

The Signalman is set by a railway in Britain, along a lonely stretch
of a railway line in a steep cutting. An Arrest is set in America and
for the most part in a forest. Napoleon and the Spectre is set in
Paris.

Gothic genre was one of the leading and most used genres of the
nineteenth century and this genre is very prevalent in all three of
the stories that I have chosen. The gothic genre originated from South
America in the seventeenth century and the idea of it is to add
certain characteristics to the story that alienate and distinguish a
section of a story form the rest of the novel making it feel and sound
more eerie. Gothic novels tended to contain a supernatural element in
them. This probably due to the Victorian fascination with the
paranormal, as a reaction to the technological advances of the past
century, which had denied the existence of such a phenomenon. There
was growth of religious fervour at the time, which helped to admiss
the existence of ghosts and the like.

The very setting of The Signalman form the start gives the story an
eerie gothic feel to it with the signalman working and living in a
dark lonely place with the tunnel that is very close by adding to the
sense of mystery of the man and the place. The railway line is set in
a shallow gorge with 'dripping wet walls of jagged stone,' which gives
the sense that the jagged stone is evil and the dripping sense is
forbidding and would probably echo in the tunnel adding further to the
forbidding sense. This setting partially occurs in 'Napoleon and the
Spectre' with the setting being a dark room, which likens to the dark
tunnel. The darkness also gives a sense of mystery to the author's
writing. 'In the glow of an angry sunset,' the stranger re-visits the
line to see the signalman. The word 'angry' is far from comfortable or
romantic. This line also gives an eerie feel...

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