Free College Essays - A Comparison of The Red Room and The Signalman


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A Comparison of The Red Room and The Signalman          

I prefer ‘The Signalman’ story because I like stories with a mysterious ending to them or any mystery in the story itself. Just like in the beginning of ‘The Signalman’, the signalman thinks the narrator is a ghost and the narrator thinks that the signalman is a ghost too. It is like you don’t know who to trust anymore and what is right or wrong. Not like in ‘The Red Room’ when the three old people stayed together when the hero went out of the room, looking at him at an eerie way. At that time I know that what the hero did was wrong and something bad is going to happen to him. I mostly like it when I do not know anything or what will happen and especially keeps me in suspense.

In ‘The Signalman’, the story of the haunting of the “appearance” makes the signalman feel very responsible of the two deaths which occurs after seeing the ghost and listening to its warnings. The first death that happens is when the signalman sees the “appearance” and listens to his warning. The dead and injured were brought over the spot were it stood on. The second death happens to a young and beautiful lady. After stopping the train they find her dead in the cabin. It is a very strange and sudden death, which makes me feel eerie and afraid, more than just knowing someone died, how this person dies and who did it. The most mysterious death is when the narrator went in the morning to the signalman’s box and finds him dead, under the “danger light” peacefully. That is what I like, it is very mysterious and don’t know who did it all, not like in ‘The Red Room’ the deaths were not convincing to me. In ‘The Red Room’ there are two pervious stories about staying in ‘The Red Room’. The first story is that a young duke stayed in the room then came out running, opened the door and “fallen headlong” down the stairs. It happens because he wants to conquer the “ghostly tradition” of the palace. The second story is that a “timid” wife who her husband scared her to death, just for fun. H.G. Wells thinks that it is “half-credible”.

In ‘The Signalman’, the signalman sees a “spectre”, the way the ghost stands under the light is a strange way.

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It makes the signalman eerie and I ask myself why the “spectre” stands under the “danger light”, waving to the signalman and at the same time covering his face in a movement of “mourning”. It does all this to warn the signalman about something or probably death. Here as well there is some mystery about the “spectre” and why it does that, and that is what I like. In H.G. Wells story there is no ghost, which I also like but Wells gives it away when he says it in the end. In ‘The Red Room’ it is all the fear of standing in one room without any light. The hero in ‘The Red Room’ wants to reason everything out but still is afraid. He keeps finding reasons, but the “room” makes him think the shadows are strangling him. At the end there is no “tangible” ghost.

As for the characters in ‘The Signalman’, there are two and they seem quite normal and not very strange and out of earth. The narrator in ‘The Signalman’ is a person in a high class and very educated. He feels that the signalman is very lonely and that he is afraid. The narrator feels sorry for the signalman. It seems to me that he is a person who does not know what he is dealing with or what is happening to him. The signalman taught himself  “a language” and worked at “fractions and decimals and a little algebra”. He thinks he is seeing a “spectre”. To me that seem quite normal, which makes me feel “OK”. As for ‘The Red Room’, there are three old people and the hero. The hero is a 28-year-old man, does not believe in ghosts and “will relieve you from the task of entertaining” him. He is brave and has the courage to go in that room on the “night of all nights”. There is an old lady and two very old men. The old lady has “pale eyes”, which keeps staring in the fire; she also rocked her head from “side to side”. The first old man has a withered arm, wrinkled and has “red eyes”. The other old man has a stick, “shambling steps”. He is even more bent, more wrinkled and more “aged” than the first one. His lips is drooping, he had “decaying yellow teeth”. He has a “queer unnatural tilting” and “rocking” face.

For the setting in ‘The Signalman’, it is in a railway cutting with a “gloomy, depressing” tunnel. There are steep sides with a zigzag path on it. Here everything just seems normal but you can feel that there is something suspicious about the place. It sounds as if it is lonely, eerie and especially melancholy. The story does not start like a traditional story or even end like one, which is extremely different from the story of ‘The Red Room’. ‘The Red Room’ is in “Loraine Castle” which is dark and isolated. The spiral staircases, large windows, long corridors, door covered in baize and statues makes the place more dangerous and no one can help if someone is in trouble. Spiral staircases shows that they would not know what is coming round the corner. Long corridors and a door covered with baize shows that sound cannot travel a lot, so there is no escape. In Wells story I like the idea of the spiral staircases that keeps you in suspense, therefore you do not know what will happen.

In terms of language, Dickens uses words which show it is gloomy, depressing and eerie, for example “forbidding air” and “left the natural world” gives the impression that it is like a grave, a forbidden place to be in and very dark and gloomy. It also has repetition for example “There was…There was…There were…There were” which shows that the things are solid, touchable and not imagery, and “Why not tell me…Why not tell me?” shows that he his mentally tortured by the responsibility.  Dickens also uses emotive words like “tombs” is like a reminder of death and “supernatural” has a winding tension to it, which I like most of all. In ‘ The Red Room’ the language is exaggerates and has gothic words. There is alliteration on the letter ‘d’ in the phrase “deafens and darkness” which seems it is dramatic and daring. The phrase “the nights of all nights”- makes you seem that there is something curious about that night. Wells also uses metaphors, which builds up the tension and suspense for example “legends that had sprouted”, “tongue of light” and “ ocean of mystery”. In the ‘The Red Room’ I like the language except the exaggeration and the gothic words.

The suspense in ‘The Signalman’ when the signalman is talking to the narrator and says he “had not finished” has increased and so as my worries and thought that something worse is going to happen. I could not predict what would happen so it built up suspense. For example Dickens increased suspense by using repetition; “It is very difficult…very very difficult” and “don’t call out…don’t call out”. However in ‘The Red Room’ he built up suspense once with a natural pause when he says “stood in the corridor” then stopped. He has built up suspense by describing things around him and a bit more, for example “sweeping up…one fled before me” and “long, draughty” underground passages. There is no ghost but something “worse, far worse” is there. In ‘The Red Room’ my prediction that the hero will come out alive was right, because almost all traditional stories have the same idea despite the different characters and stories. I especially like in ‘The Signalman’ how the suspense is built up and also when I do not know anything.

As for the tension, in the beginning of ‘The Signalman’ it is increased when the signalman looks at the tunnel in a “most curious” way and especially towards the “danger light”. It makes me wonder why he is doing that. Repetition also builds up the tension for example; “I am troubled…I am troubled”. Dickens then winds up the tension when he says that he feels that the “feeling is passed on” to him in a “supernatural way”, that seems to me that it is a good sign, that the narrator is beginning to understand what the signalman feels. Tension is builds up when he says “he would walk for an hour, half an hour doing down, the other back” then he will go to his “signalman’s box”. That made it more personal. All kinds of questions are asked in my head, so I wanted answers very quickly therefore it drove me to read on and that’s what I like in terms of tension. In ‘The Red Room’ when he is talking to himself, asking questions to “someone”. He asks a question with a “queer” voice. The warnings the old man says, “it’s your own choosing” and “you have never seen the likes of this house”. “There’s many things to see” which makes it’s eerie. Repetition of the phrase “it’s your own choosing” increases the tension and also it is a warning to the hero himself and what he is doing is dangerous and is a matter of life and death. This is a very good technique that I like. Saying phrases in different ways, for example; “fashion born in dead brains”-which means that it is old fashion and dark, and “worried gave me a sudden twinge”-which means as if a electrical tweezers shocked him. These phrases are very great and have a different way of saying things. Overall I prefer ‘The Signalman’ even though some of the techniques that H.G. Wells uses.


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