The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens is a pre-20th century short story, written in around 19th century. It is a Gothic story as a genre. A Gothic story is a type of romantic fiction that predominated in English literature. The Gothic novel emphasized mystery and horror and was filled with ghost haunted rooms, underground passages, and secret stairways. These ingredients are essential and crucial for Gothic story in order to create suspense to the readers.
In the story an obvious theme of mystery and suspense are created in the first paragraph. From the third sentence, you realized it has been written in the first person, a practice uncommon for the time. You realize that it will be suspenseful, as you will only see the story from the angle of the reader.
The story grabs your attention from the beginning as the writer begins the story with some sort of a dialogue, "Halloa! Below there! (Pg 2)" This quick phrase in the first line initiates an excitement and anxiety to the reader. However he follows by a long paragraph that never even mentions anything about ghosts, but Dickens resolves this by building up a curiosity to the readers about the unusual behaviour of the Signal-man towards the phrase. This remarkable method of his generates a question in the readers mind, "why he does that?" and "what's the matter with him?" This effect definitely makes the reader carry on.
Setting plays a massive role in a ghost story because it makes the story more frightening and "spooky". Detailed setting also creates more realism and sensibility even though it's a ghost story. In The Signal-man, the setting takes place at a train track that is different to a typical Gothic story, which is usually an old castle, a haunted room or house. The writer uses the effect of darkness to create a sense of fear and oppression, "It stood just outside the blackness of the tunnel. (Pg. 12)" Dickens uses words such as "chill", "gloomy", "dark" and "echoing passage" to further emphasize the...
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