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Suspense And Tension In Charles Dickens' The Signalman

1585 words - 6 pages

Suspense and Tension in Charles Dickens' The Signalman

In the Charles Dickens' story the narrator meets the signalman who is
confessing to him his problems. The narrator comes every night to find
out that the signalman was seeing a ghost of a man, who was pointing
out that certain train accidents are going to happen. After a few days
the narrator goes peacefully to the signalman's shed, and finds out
that he mysteriously died.

The signalman at the train station sees sightings of a ghost in the
distance. However the figure is trying to tell the signalman something
important, but each time the signalman sees this figure doing some
actions something bad always happens, this is where Dickens creates
the suspense and tension.

To add to the tension Dickens adds a narrator to the story, this is
done to emphasise various points more and to spook the audience out.
The suspense and tension is created in various different ways I am
going to explore these factors: the characters, the setting of the
place and the time at which incidents happen.

To add to the tension Dickens adds a narrator to the story, this is
done to emphasise various points more and to spook the audience out.
The suspense and tension is created in various different ways I am
going to explore these factors: the characters, the setting of the
place and the time at which incidents happen.

The very first line spoken by the narrator is negative, and puts
thoughts into our minds about bad things happening because it portrays
the fact about height and if something is down, it makes it seem very
mysterious:

Halloa! Below there!"

The word halloa is a very old fashioned word and no one says it
anymore, but if you say it now, the way the word flows, therefore it
generates a spooky effect. Also the fact that the narrator is shouting
it to the signalman, but the signalman doesn't quite know where the
noise is coming from and looks straight down the line to see where it
was coming from as if he has heard it before, is very scary because it
makes us wonder why the signal man is looking down the line when the
narrator is shouting from above. However once we have read the story
everything fits into place, because the signalman has heard that same
phrase from the figure.

Once the signalman realises where the voice is coming from the
narrator asks him if he can come down from the bridge, when he is down
the signalman is not quite sure whether or not the narrator is a ghost

"Monstrous thought…was a spirit"

But we know by reading the story he is not a ghost but then again the
narrator begins to wonder if the signalman is a ghost because he
hasn't said anything to the narrator. The narrator tries to make
conversation with the narrator and Dickens shows this through indirect
speech:

"This was a lonesome...

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