Comparing The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe
In this essay I will be focusing on the comparisons between the two
horrific tales, 'The Signalman' written by Charles Dickens and 'The
Pit and the Pendulum' written by Edgar Allan Poe, and by looking at
these tales, will give me an idea of how suspense is built up.
In the opening paragraph of 'The Signalman', suspense is built up
immediately as the sense of sound adds confusion and many rhetorical
questions are asked such as, who is calling? Why is he calling? What
is he calling about? "Hallo, below there!" suggests this. This adds a
lot of trepidation for the ...view middle of the document...
What will his
reaction be to this man?
The short expression 'great dungeon' gives the reader the impression
that it's not just the signalman wanting to go to the natural world,
but the unnatural world where he is, letting him out into the natural
world. As the narrator reaches the bottom of the train track, he
signifies it as a 'barbarous, depressing and forbidden air', which
means, rough, sad and air which is outlawed. The narrator portrays the
place as when he got to the railway line he felt as if he had 'left
the natural world' which indicates the place was like a totally
different place what so ever. As far as we know he could have entered
into another dimension. It sets the atmosphere too as 'black tunnel',
and 'so little sunlight ever found its way' gives the reader the sight
of darkness and sin around the railway track.
When the narrator arrives at the bottom, straight away you can see the
shock and jolt on the face of the signalman. Why is he like this we
ask? This builds suspense because it makes us wonder what is the
signalman seeing in this man that us readers cannot see.
The place affects the narrator in many ways as the narrator becomes
more involved in to the story. He asks many questions such as "lonely
stop to occupy is it not?" which the narrator finds it amusing or odd
which makes him to start to believe the opposite what he wouldn't
expect. When description such as 'lamenting wail of the wind' is used,
this is relevant to the story because it adds a lot more atmosphere
and also explains a few of the actions of the signalman. Maybe the
signalman is a bit insane from being somehow trapped in the deep,
dark, cold depth of the railway line.
When the narrator says that he does not like the red light and that he
would not like to sleep beneath it, he is trying to explain that the
red light to him is a sense of danger and that to live around it all
the time like the signalman does would be very weary.
There are only two main characters in the story of the signalman, the
signalman himself and the narrator. The story being told in 1st person
narrative is more direct to us as readers. It gives us the impression
that the story is true and believable which adds more tension if the
story is true and also a lot more plausibility to the story.
The signalman and the narrator both fear, but in different ways. The
signalman fears because of the dreadful crash on the line he worked on
and maybe because of the figure that he sees when danger is about to
happen. I expect the narrator would fear because of the way the
signalman acts towards him. "a dreadful crash at the mouth of the
tunnel" implies the signalman's fear.
The narrator makes an orientation to supernatural forces, he declared,
"that this was a spirit, not a man" this implies that the narrator is