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Provoking Fear In Both The Victorian And Modern Reader Of The Signalman

2073 words - 8 pages

How Does Charles Dickens Use The Ghost Story Genre To Provoke Fear In
Both The Victorian And Modern Reader Of The Signalman?

“Charles Dickens” is the author of "The Signalman"; this story is a
pre 20th Century piece and is a horror story. People today may not
find the story very frightening but when it was written, the
Victorians would have taken to this horror much more understandably,
due to the fact that technology like the train was all new and it
changed the lifestyle of people. The train itself is quite a
frightening figure; it is large, shoots out steam and makes quite a
spine-chilling loud noise. Also, the train would have been the
fastest means of transport at that time and it seemed very
uncontrollable and dangerous to the Victorians. "The Signalman" is not
a typical ghost story because it is set in the day. The railway is not
exactly a typical ghost story setting either, which evokes the fear
that it could happen to anyone.

The first paragraph grabs the reader’s attention by using dialogue the
Narrator is shouting "Helloa! Below there!" The reader is dragged into
the middle of what seems an interesting story. The Narrator is calling
to a man standing at the door to his box, holding a flag in his hand
rolled up against its short pole. Even though the reader has started
in the middle of a story, the Narrator has not given much information
away at all; we can only guess that the man being called to is the
Signalman and we know nothing about the Narrator. When the signalman
hears the voice, he could not have doubted the direction the voice
came from, but instead of looking at the Narrator on top of the steep
cutting nearly over his head, he looked down the line. This creates an
atmosphere of suspense - the reader wants to know why the signalman
does this. The Narrator thinks there was something remarkable about
him doing so, he didn't know what but remarkable enough to grab the
readers attention. The Signalman was described by the Narrator as
“foreshortened” and “shadowed”, Shadowed is an interesting word to
have used at this point in the story, it can have two meanings. The
noun can mean “darkness” or “gloom” where the verb can mean “suspense”
or “keep watch on”. This figure was also described as being in a

The second paragraph also starts in dialogue, "Helloa! Below!" The
Narrator is repeating his question because he didn't receive a reply
to the last. The signalman turns himself about and sees the Narrator
high above him. The Narrator can then ask, "Is there a path by which I
can come down and speak to you?" I think the Narrator wants to speak
to him because of his 'remarkable behavior'. But the signalman doesn't
reply. I think it possible, at this point in the story, that the
reader will think the signalman is demented, stubborn or troubled at
the least. We can gather at this point that the Narrator is a polite
person as he tries not to be rude towards the idleness of this

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