The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs, The Clubfooted Grocer by Sir Arthur
Canon Doyle, The Red Room by H. G. Wells and The Signalman by Charles
Analyse how the writers successfully use aspects of the supernatural
to create dramatic tension in the short stories you have read.
The nineteenth century was an era of general belief in ghosts and
spirituality. This is what made gothic stories even more appealing and
successful during this era – the fact that they would be seen as being
realistic. One major reason for the rise in spirituality during this
era was the fact that many people had started to lose their Christian
faith (mainly because the Church was unable to give an explanation as
to why ghosts existed) and so they started to search for a new way of
understanding and accepting death. I think that the Victorian’s
enjoyed reading horror stories because they offer a challenge – to see
whether the reader can figure out who the “ghost” or spectre
represents and what they are doing. By involving the reader, the
writers were able to keep them interested throughout the story. During
the Victorian era, the short story became a very popular genre and
ghost stories were well-liked with the readers. It was therefore very
important for the authors to build tension and suspense to keep their
readers interested. I will be studying: “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W.
Jacobs, “The Clubfooted Grocer” by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle, “The Red
Room” by H. G. Wells and “The Signalman” by Charles Dickens. In this
essay, I will be exploring the ways in which the writers use the
supernatural to create dramatic tension in the above stories.
“The Monkey’s Paw” is a short story by W. W. Jacobs, written in 1902.
The title of a story is very important because it is the title which
grabs the reader’s attention and so, if it is not effective, people
will not want to read the story. The title of this story immediately
grabs the reader’s attention because it is mysterious and it makes us
wonder what it is and what it can do. It also helps the reader to
create a vivid image of an old and frail paw which looks as if it can
bring bad luck to the owner. This story is written in the third person
which makes it objective and much more realistic. It is realistic
because we can be sure that the events took place and were not just
part of the imagination or thought of one character. It also allows
for a more broad-based view of the on-goings as it does not follow one
particular person throughout the story.
“The Monkey’s Paw” is an ironic tale about the White family who live
in a small Laburnum Villa. They are given an enchanted “Monkey’s Paw”,
by Sergeant-Major Morris, which can grant them three wishes. Although
they are warned of the dangerous consequences of making the wishes by
the Sergeant, they decide to use it anyway. The first wish is for £200
to clear off their house’s mortgage, however, they receive this money
is a very tragic...