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

2318 words - 9 pages

How does Charles Dickens use the ghost story genre to provoke fear in both Victorian and modern reader of 'The Signalman'?Ghost stories have many conventions. For example the setting is typically a dark gloomy place like a castle with thick fog and strange noises. Other conventions of the genre have the ghost being a white billowing shape floating above the ground. Sometimes, like in this story ghost story are used to explore things. For example this story explores the ideas of trains being modern technology and seeming to do more harm than good.The start is quite unusual in the way it grabs the reader's attention "Halloa! Below there!" Starting with dialogue draws the reader in because it makes you want to know many questions like, Who is saying this? And why? Also who is he talking to? Straightaway it brings in typical ghost story mysteriousness. "There was something remarkable in his manner of doing so". This is designed so that the reader feels uneasy right from the start. It is also another clue to the outcome of the story. 'The Signalman' starts with a mysterious feeling and does not tell you what is happening until later on. The mysteriousness is typical of a ghost story but most ghost stories talk about the setting and how scary it is to instil fear in the reader.Charles Dickens uses lots of techniques to draw the setting in a reader's mind. He uses words with connotations "this great dungeon" the word dungeon connotes death, ghosts and being trapped. Also it is a metaphor because it is actually a cutting; it is just being compared to a dungeon. The alliterative onomatopoeia of "vague vibration" is used. The alliteration gives you a sense of the power and the onomatopoeia emphasises the vibration from the v sound. Personification is also used to create fear "the tunnels mouth". This makes the tunnel seem as though it will swallow you up never to be seen again. Things are described well. "oozier and wetter as I went down". This description shows he is walking into a nastier, spookier place as he goes down. Sometimes it is set with a strong sun and lots of light "an angry sunset". This is done to contrast with the darkness of the cutting to make it scarier. Also this is pathetic fallacy trying to use the 'angry' to make you think something nasty or ghostly will happen as he descends and this is personification, giving the sunset the human emotion of anger. Other times it was in the dark "next night... clocks were striking eleven". This is probably to contrast between the other visits, to show something bad or scary has happened. And also it keeps with the ghost story genre. The actual railway setting in the cutting with the dark tunnel fits quite well for a ghost story setting because again the fear of the dark tunnel and the way that there is only one rough path makes you feel trapped. A few different moods are created by the setting. Sometimes a scary, dark mood is set. "excluding all view but a strip of sky". The lack of light creates a...

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