Often judged for its melodramatic qualities and its play on the supernatural, the gothic genre has been one of many genres that have dominated, English literature from its birth in 1764, the gothic genre has become a great success as it uses many dark intense imagery from the vast dark graveyards, forests and concealed ruins where the protagonist who is normally forlorn and nai?? ve like Bram stokers “Jonathan Harker”. Two such authors who employed the gothic genre in their works were Bram stoker and Charles Dickens.
These two authors personally made a great contribution to literature and gothic genre. Charles Dickens author of many memorable tales such as “A Christmas Carol” , “A Tale Of Two Cities” and lastly “Great Expectations”, Dickens is famous for the characters he created and for his detail for descriptions, he was a man of tremendous energy and was very passionate for English and its work, he was known to spend hours upon hours walking the streets of London developing his characters this is where his short story “The Signal Man” came from and was published in 1866 four years before his death.
The Signal man tells the tale of a signal man who meets the narrator and tells him of a ghost who has been haunting him and appeared to him three times before his untimely demise , Each spectral appearance is a harbinger of a tragic event that happens on the rail the signal man is in charge of and it is likely that dickens based this story and one of the events on the Clayton Tunnel crash that occurred in 1861 five years before the story was published and this familiarity between the two would have appealed to readers as they would have been familiar with this event, and also the Staplehurst rail crash in 1865 in which Dickens was the only first class passenger to survive.
In the story Dickens many descriptions that are typical to the gothic genre, dickens, He firstly employs a first person narrative to build suspense for the readers, the story reflects a suspicion of the age of the industrial era, I enjoyed reading the signal man and found in-depth meaning in the story and enjoyed Dickens use of descriptions and language devices, he really reaches out to the reader. In the story we see how Dickens confers a feeling of suspension and tension; he also refers to the weather for dramatic effect “the glow of an angry sunset” this meaning something is on the horizon also “Vague vibration in the earth and air” again he uses word play on the weather for dramatic effect and also use alliteration this is very effective and this may even have set the scene for action ahead.
As we meet the signal man for the first time we see him “raising his eyes saw my figure high above him” a possible connection as if ascending to heaven, was something else drawing his attention this is the first encounter with the unknown and this builds the mystery Dickens has made the first paragraph very gripping and it confuses the reader a bit as it does not give away to much so the reader wants to read on, also the setting “Deep trench”, “The cutting was extremely deep and unusually precipitate” and “terminating in a gloomy red light, and the gloomier entrance to a black tunnel, in whose massive architecture there was a barbarous, depressing , and forbidding air” these descriptions of the tunnel and trench are dark, oppressive and sinister it is also described by the narrator “as if I had left the natural world” why is the tunnel so eerie?