The Signalman and How It Happened Essay

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Both Charles Dickens (1866), the author of “The Signalman”, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1918) of “How It Happened” explore the theme of the supernatural to create suspense. The central theme of the supernatural is commonly associated with feelings of fear and horror; these feelings are appropriate for creating suspense, thus effectively driving the reader into a panicked state of mind. Not only is the theme of the supernatural used to create suspense, but the authors also use it to explore issues concerning life and death. This is particularly effective regarding the fact that both stories were written in the age of scientific breakthrough and technology, which were the vindication of all unexplained deaths occurring then, again …show more content…
“How It Happened” is written from the point of view of a first person protagonist, whereas in “The Signalman” the story’s narrator is secondary in importance to the Signalman, but who is knee-deep in some unusual situation that isn't explained until later. By using the first person narrative technique, a bond is made between the character and the reader; hence the reader instantly undergoes the feelings of confusion, fear, and anxiety of the character as the story progresses. In addition to the feelings of the characters, the reader also come to sympathise with the actions of the character, for instance in “The Signalman”, we feel the narrator’s astonishment when the Signalman clearly ignores his cries of “Holloa! Below there!” and later his bewilderment when he is told that it was because he was thought to be “a spirit, not a man”. At this point of the story suspense is clearly created as a use of the supernatural genre is already imbedded into the story. We also wonder what exactly is capturing the Signalman’s attention. Suspense is enhanced by the ominous remarks, reactions, and behavior which are left unexplained such as the signalman’s reactions of "such expectation and watchfulness” that the narrator is forced to stop for a moment “wondering at it,". The author also uses tension through to create suspense. Dickens does this by using ghostly

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