In horror compositions it is likely that one of these characters is the perpetrator of evil and the other the victim, so obviously they play a key role throughout the story particularly in the outcome. In ‘The Red Room’ the portrayal of character is very evident and in my eyes very successful. Featuring in ‘The Red Room’ is an elderly couple who are described as having a lot of knowledge and experience. The phrase “It is your own choosing” is repeated in the opening of the story, it insinuates to the readers that the elders know something incredibly ghastly and are therefore very insistent that they have nothing to do with it.
This creates tension and contributes to a daunting atmosphere. The author H. G Wells portrays the old man as “wrinkled and aged with decaying yellow teeth. ” This unpleasant description creates a gruesome and repugnant mood as well as suggesting that the man could be a candidate for playing the perpetrator of evil in ‘The Red Room’. The other main character in ‘The Red Room’ is a young, confident man who is so fearless that he is prepared to go against the elder’s advice and stay overnight in the red room, “it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me. ” H.
G Wells has decided to write this character in the first person which shows his intent for the reader to admire the young man and aspire to have the self-belief and conviction that the man has throughout the story. In Victorian times aspects of the supernatural were very prominent in day to day society. Ostracized members of a community were often branded as witches and blamed for tragic events that sometimes occurred. The knock-on effect of this was a superstitious nation and this comes across in some of the prose that we studied. One example of this emerges in a short story written by M.
R James. In ‘Lost Hearts’ gipsies are accused of causing the strange events in Mr. Abney’s stately home, “she was had away by them gipsies. ” When unexplainable actions occur, the Victorians found comfort in quickly blaming someone or something as they couldn’t cope with the fear of the unknown. This meant that gipsies were often used as scapegoats as in the quote above. Victorians were also very suspicious about travellers particularly from foreign lands. Many of the distant nations that were part of the British Empire were seen as mysterious and magical places.
A typical British impression of foreign countries was described in ‘The Monkey’s Paw,’ “wars and plagues and strange people. ” Consequently whenever foreigners were mentioned, a hostile mood would be created. Pathetic fallacy is where mood and atmosphere is expressed as weather. This can be used along with supernatural elements to make the reader weary of the events that are coming up – foreshadowing. In ‘Dracula’s Guest’ the author uses both a foreign, unfamiliar location and pathetic fallacy; “a shiver in the north wind – there may be a sudden storm” … “on Munich.
” This is an ideal scenario for creating the right mood and atmosphere. Writers use different techniques to create tension and suspense. Tension and suspense are often used to indicate to the reader that they are reaching a climax or significant event in the story. They make the audience anxious and desperate as well as contributing to an unsettling atmosphere. In ‘The Signalman’ suspense is produced in two very different ways but they both achieve the same effect. The following extract, “Something in the man that daunted me” uses the verb ‘daunt’ to build up a sense of tension.
This is in a semantic field with other words such as overwhelmed, intimidated, and fearful. Obviously every horror composition has to have fear as a main component. Fear is evident in all the horror prose that we read but ‘The Monkey’s paw’ in particular was very effective in creating a dramatic and scary ending. The author communicates fear to the reader by simply creating fright and terror amongst the characters in the story. “He stood motionless, his breath suspended”, the two key words in this quote are the adjective motionless and the verb to suspend.
They both suggest no life. Death is the pinnacle of fear so this section of the text is very alarming for the reader. Further on in the story, W. W Jacobs uses noise to convey fear to the audience. If the characters are screaming and yelling, it highlights the fact they are scared and this likely to make the reader scared too. “It’s Herbert! She screamed” and “The bolt, she cried loudly” are examples of this. The noise factor will also help to construct a distressing mood. Victorians were obsessed with the unexplainable.
This inspired readers to end their stories on cliff-hangers or with questions unanswered. In ‘The Signalman’ we wonder why the stranger hears the bell at the end, is it just a coincidence? In ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ we debate over what the last wish was. In the ‘Red Room’ we still don’t know what it is that’s causing the “black fear” and finally in ‘Lost Hearts’ we question whether the explanation given is actually the case. My favourite ending is definitely the one in ‘The Monkey’s paw’, because it is action-packed and horrific. What more could you ask for?
Not only was it really well written, it had an exciting and unexpected finale. I believe each story has a specific social/historical context. In ‘The Signalman’, Dickens explains his feelings towards the Industrial Revolution which was occurring at the time. He warns us of the heavy mental and physical pressures that the Industrial Revolution burdens you with. ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ suggests that an extensive British Empire might not be such a good idea. There are suggestions that we should concentrate on our own country and stay out of foreign business, “better where you are”.
The story ‘Lost Hearts’ makes references to Greek gods, pagans and the Roman Empire. There was a theme of character ignorance throughout. I think that many Victorians knew very little about mythology and ancient times therefore they were eager to know more about their ancestors. Finally, ‘The Red Room’ alerts readers to the hazards of historic structures. Often, rich Victorians convinced themselves they were courageous enough to occupy these haunted castles. The author endeavoured to make us aware of the fear they can emanate.
The writers of the short horror stories have used a number of different methods to create the appropriate mood, atmosphere and character. Generic features such as isolation, suspense, fear, pathetic fallacy and aspects of the supernatural all play an important role. Without them, such imaginative, thrilling and interesting horror prose would not have been created. Display complete essay Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.