The Red Room as a Typical Ghost Story
A typical ghost story consists of various features to make it feel and
seem effective. It has a supernatural theme which is present through
much of the story, a mysterious setting to also give an eerie effect,
for example by setting it in the dark or in an old abandoned building,
some suspense and tension, victims and it is reasonably short. The
story of ' The Red Room' by H .G. Wells, written in 1896, is narrated
by a man who is determined to go to Lorraine Castle to test its
reputation as a supernatural place. He comes across three
multifarious, 'grotesque custodians' who try to persuade him not to go
into the supposedly haunted room. He does so, however, and experiences
tremendous shock, trepidation and qualms.
This essay will examine this to see how far it is a typical ghost
story and how far it is not typical by looking at such features as
setting, plot, characters and language.
' The Red Room' is set in Lorraine Castles in the early 19th centaury.
In this story, the setting is quite appropriate to the theme as it
quite gothic. The castle itself makes us feel uncomfortable. This is a
perfect setting for a ghost story, as Lorraine Castles is a Victorian
building, which is extremely large and old. The castle probably has
long corridors with a few turrets. It would have a North, East, South
and West wing and it is likely the ' The Red Room' is situated in a
remote part of one of these wings. As with most castles, the castle
itself would be situated alone and isolated from the modern world, in
the countryside. Because of the size of the castle, the narrator has
to go a long way to get to ' The Red Room'. He has to go along a
passage, up a spiral staircase, through a door leading off a landing,
down a corridor and then up a few steps. This journey becomes quite
frightening even before he gets to the actual room. He refers to the
"chilly echoing passage" where his "candle flared and made the shadows
cower and quiver". The two main verbs in this quotation are 'quiver'
and 'cower', 'cower meaning to crouch or move backwards, for instance
in this case the shadows are moving backwards as if they are afraid.
'Quiver' means to tremble, for example, a quiver of panic. Even the
shadows are constantly trembling because of the darkness of the long
corridors, which creates an atmosphere of fear and menace. The use of
candles, in an age before electricity, is vital to the effect of the
story. The story is really about the way our imagination plays tricks
with us and we an see the beginning of it here, in the way the
narrator describes the shadows moving as if that were alive and
afraid. This suggests there is something frightening lurking in the