I’m not at all sure that he was alive. ” A sequel was used as the ending of story, the final quote stated “… It seems to be G. W. S. , 24July, 1865. ” This as the reader knows, is Sampson’s “… Gold Byzantine coin… ” which clarifies what has happened to Sampson after the mysterious disappearance. I think that although this is a rather short story, it still uses many techniques in building up tension; altogether 5 horror stories are compacted into this narrative as the conversation progressed, all scarier than the one before and great at keeping the reader interested and glued to read on.
The Red Room The setting is a clichi?? of Gothic and Victorian ghost stories. Dilapidated and neglected buildings were often inhabited by people who abandoned their own wellbeing and were regarded as morally corrupt. Victorians prized order and appearances and loved to entertain guests. There is a feel of gloominess as the atmosphere is lurking with neglect and patience from the old people. In Victorian times it was very dark as they did not have the technology we have to just switch on a light bulb, they had candles and a fire place.
The old people are of course the residents of this house but the narrator feels as though they were “trying to enhance the spiritual terrors of the house… ” and makes the reader get an image of an old derelict house, “the door creaked on its hinges… old fashioned furniture… droughty subterranean passage… ” Subterranean suggests darkness, enclosed, as this is a scary story set in Victorian times it could be compared to a tomb, as we later find out that this house has a Ghost haunted room.
Using this clichi?? of a Gothic Victorian house is scary, and as it is widely known, instantaneously it will build up tension because the image of a gothic castle is easy to imagine and can be very scary, especially at night. The opening line is an ominous opening, as the narrator states “I can assure you… that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me… ” the story is structured in the first person, and this instates the reader to imagine that they are the person referred to as ‘I’.
This opening line, particularity is good because it is creating an atmosphere of neglect/ bravery, the reader is in the situation were he/she distinctly believes that there is no such things as ghosts, but as the story progresses, the use of the first person narrative grips the reader to visualize something even worse than ghosts, fear. The characters ‘old’ people are also present in the opening of the story, but they cause discomfort to the narrator, they are described as such “withered arm… more bent, more wrinkled, more aged even than the first…
decaying yellow teeth… I had scarce expected these grotesque custodians” The narrator creates an atmosphere as to which the old people are spiritual and they enhance this, “she swayed he head slowly from side to side… tying to enhance the spiritual terror… something inhuman in senility… monstrous shadow … the human qualities seem to drop from old people… they seemed to belong to another age… omens, and witches… ghosts… fashion born in dead brains… ” the old people open up the topic of the supernatural while the narrator is detesting them.
The root of the haunted room is featured with deaths, “the great red room of Lorraine Castle, in which the young duke has died. Or rather, in which he had begun his dying… ” and “the tale of a timid wife and the tragic end that came to her husband’s jest of frightening her. ” So that idea of a haunting room is relevantly alleged because of the tenable horrors. (“This night of all nights… “) Repetition is verily used in the narrative and builds up to the event to which the narrator experiences the undeniable.
The best example of build up of events is when the narrators asks for directions to the Red Room and he replies ” you go along for a bit… until you come to a door, and through that is a spiral stair case, and half way up that is a landing and other door covered with baize. Go through that and down the long corridor to the end, and the red room is on your left up the steps… ” the description of the narrator following these directions through the house expresses how abandoned and vigil the house is, a sense of suspension is lightly added and this builds all the way up to when he enters the red room.
As the candle lights go out one by one, we see the ‘three technique being used, “screamed with all my might – once, twice, thrice. ” The pace of the writing can be noticed by the size of the paragraphs, we see that in the beginning the paragraphs are very short and mostly short descriptions and conversations, but as we near the climax, it is full of large chunks of paragraphs mostly deep descriptions and dialogue, this may be because when he leaves the room accommodated by the old people, he has no one to talk to expect his conscience.
The language style is typical of a Victorian supernatural story; the vocabulary is very descriptive and is very formal. The theme is typical of a ghost story set in Victorian times, it is very gothic, and predictably set in a castle or big dark house. The main character, (narrator) is in neglect about this ghost; he constantly re assures himself that there is a rational explanation for everything and is very “systematic”. He says, “if… you show me to this haunted room of yours, I will make my self comfortable there…
if… if… if… if” and even the first line to the story, the opening states that it would take a very tangible ghost to frighten the narrator, this confidence introduces conflict. The author also uses diverse similes and metaphors to give the reader a more vivid imagery of the situation or description which eventually builds up the tension of the circumstance. “Fashions born in dead brains… little tongue of light… ocean of mystery…. like a ragged storm cloud sweeping out the stars”
The tone of the narrator also changes, during the company of the old people; he was very sarcastic and very much like a critic. But as he was on his journey to the red room, he is very rational, “a conversation with myself upon the impossibility of ghosts and haunting”, and speaks to his conscience to re – assure himself, as the climax approached, he is in a mix of cheeriness and “in a state of nervous tension” gives the reader the feeling of anticipation and a intention.
As we find out in the end that the room is not actually haunted by a ghost but instead it is called “black fear”, this fear is represented by the fear that the narrator experienced as one by one the candles went out and the darkness enclosed. Throughout the experience the author had personified the darkness, “the shadow in the alcove at the end in particular had that undeniable quality of presence… lurking, living thing… unexpected presence of a strange… Closed upon me like the shutting of an eye…
wrapped about me in a stifling embrace… sealed my vision” it then comes up to the raged point when the narrator shouts out to this fear saying “Steady on! … These candles are wanted. ” This sudden fear, of fear, is unexplainable, fear is an emotion it cannot be a substance, shouting to it, raises confidence but in this story fear wins, the story ends in daylight, people fear the dark and when it is light, that is when life begins, fear is like a lurking of darkness in the magnitude of imagination.
The use of fear as the haunting notion, is very clever in building up tension, because from the start the reader it rational and knows that there is no such thing as ghosts, but we all fear something, being able to not see what the fear is springs the imagination into a nightmare mode, and the reader thinks of what scares them the most. As the great saying goes, “we fear what we do not understand. ” The story ends directly with the quote “black fear… so long as this house of sin endures. ” this could mean that there would be more forthcomings of tragedies forsaking the confident and neglectful.
I feel that the story has a moral; this moral is that we all have something precious and worth living for, we have something to hide, something that scares us, however much we try and concur that fear, at the end we will have memories that haunt us. Humans are afraid, when you are in a position an eager to find something, an example would be in the fields of science, we are constantly wondering what is out there and the though of us being so small in the vast space creates fear, because we cannot even begin to imagine what is out there, it is beyond imagination.
The Monkeys Paw Set in Victorian times in a house described as “beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way place to live in, this is the worst. Path’s a bog and road’s a torrent”. The story build up tension through two main ways: reference to past events, and build up of events. The monkeys paw is described as “an ordinary little paw, dried to a little mummy… it had a spell put on it by an old fakir… show that fate ruled peoples lives…
and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow… ” Sergeant-Major Morris “spoke of wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples. ” Hs experienced the magic of the paw, but feels sorrow through his actions. The “three technique” is the core of the tension, the sergeant had shared some of its history of how 3 separate men got their wishes granted but ended in grief, “the first man had his three wishes… the third was for death… ” this clichi??
is exploited in this story throughout, when the Mr White regards the paw and enquires his wishes, the first “wish for two hundred pounds” is granted, in those days 200 pounds was a lot of money, it could buy you a house, but little expecting that this wish would be granted through compensation from their dead son who was “caught in the machinery”. In Victorian times, people could start work from a very young age, mostly to do with fixing machinery as they could fit in below due to their height.
The second and final wish were made very quickly nearing the climax after the third knock on the door by the suspected ‘zombie’ Herbert, 12 short paragraphs relayed to a finale of a “quite and deserted road” which relaxed the tension built up through the horror that could have prevailed had it not been for the third wish. Man-size In Marble Set in a gothic Edwardian church, London in Halloween; holding marble figures of The Templar, who have been stated by the church as being sinners, they were “fierce and wicked men, marauders by land and sea. ” So straight away we know that this is the root of the horror.
Tension is brought through many ways in this story, including a very ominous opening “although every word of the story is as true as despair, I do not expect people to believe it. ” From this line the reader knows that something terrible is going to happen which is effective because the reader wants to satisfy curiosity. The first paragraph ends with: “… three… took part in this: Laura and I and another man. The other man still lives… ” this implies that Laura does not survive, this short quote sums up the story but misses key points which again brings interest for the reader.
The main way in which this story builds up tension is through the structure and language, the narrators emotions (fear) is never on the same wavelength, once he is very scared the next he is comfortable, an example would be when the narrator, touches the floor “the moon came out and showed … the bodies of the man-size’ were gone… ” and then the “raw-boned Irish doctor” appeared and brought comfort and reason, little knowing that his wife was being killed by the stone figures. As the language and mood changes so in correlation does the readers, meaning that when there is tension it is easily interpreted.
Conclusion In Victorian and Edwardian times, scary stories were very popular, the environment of mostly rural gothic style and architecture complemented to the fear and adrenaline. The thought of the Supernatural was something regular because this was the dawn of inventions; it was an exciting time for scientist and philosophers called ‘thinkers’. Another word for tension would be worry, anxiety and apprehension, although building up tension requires finesse in the various techniques I have stated.
I enjoyed the short stories and have the notion that even though they are reasonable old narratives, they still live to entertain readers with their experienced depth in description and formal language and grammar.