Murder and mystery were a large part of the pre 19th century, as they did not have any of the technology that we have today.
So if a murder was committed and they was just a splash of blood there would not be an arrest as the murderer could not have been found, as easily as he would of been today with the DNA scanners and the huge amount of money invested in forensic science. In the pre 19th century there were many unsolved murders and even more unknown murders, the largest and most notorious would be the elusive “Jack the Ripper”.Though he is a large corner stone on which to analyse the area of murder and mystery, I shall instead focus on the works of authors who have dedicated time and effort into the making of short-stories focused on the ominous and supernatural world that was the pre 19th century. The first of my stories shall be from the works of a seventeen year old woman who wrote the short story of “Napoleon and the Spectre”. I have chosen this story first, because of biased reasons as it is, of the short stories we have read, my overall favourite.It is not because of the tone or atmosphere that has me captivated, but rather the way we, as readers, are placed ‘In Media Res’ that has stood out to me. We are placed in the scene of Napoleons’, or rather the ‘Emperors” bedroom and we are launched straight into a mysterious setting of someone who defies the ‘Emperor’ and who dares laugh at him.
We slowly have to watch as an Emperor, a general, and a French national hero is stripped down to his former self who means as little as those who serve him.In response to this revelation of who he truly is napoleon is speechless and worried as he fears nothing yet here he trembles. Napoleons bold nature does burst through though but again this ‘presence’ makes him uneasy and again he is stripped of title and importance and reduced ever lower into a man who is afraid of the voice that has no mouth and the man who has no body. Through the limited omniscient narrator we soon get the suspense and the anxiety of the supernatural. The setting is one of a purely dark and sinister gothic imagery focused solely on the dark figure that Napoleon is intimidated of.
Amongst this world of the supernatural we have the reinforcement of the French scene when Napoleon exclaims in French even though the story is written by a young English girl and the story itself is mainly spoken and narrated in English, with the exception of the French words to reinforce the setting. The setting has a huge impact on how we view the story and how we interpret it. Currently we are in a French gothic setting which underlay’s the raw intensity of the sinister presence of the spectre that haunts the deeply disturbed Napoleon.
Through the setting we get the atmosphere that shapes the story to give that ‘lonely man the demeanour of a killer’ in the case of this short story we have napoleon stripped down to the stature of a regular man and not that of the man who fought at Waterloo. While Napoleon struggled with the ‘spectre’ that ‘haunted his dreams’ we find an old man who lives with a close friend of his in the next of the short stories I have chosen. This story is as widely known as the author Edgar Allen Poe. The story I am refering to is that of the tell-tale heart in which every child is aware of and of which many shows on T.V. unconsciously mimic. Though many people will know or recognise this story from various films, they will be chilled to the bone when they read this story as it captions the story of a man and his friend who has an eye that the man does not like so he plans in every way to kill the eye and arrives at the conclusion that in order to kill the eye he must first kill the man who is attached to it. This is a chilling story completely focused on the question of wither or not the man is mad or merely sadistic.
In this story we are allowed a deep insight of how this man thinks and his reasoning of why he plots and kills and even why he wants to hurt his best friend who he has lived with for many years. The main reasoning of the mans’ eagerness is the simple fact that he is indeed mad and merely wants to get rid of the eye that has haunted his dreams. In the sense of how his dreams have been marred by the visions of the despised eye in the same sense that Napoleons’ dreams are equally troubled by the spectre.Though in this story we can clearly see the effect that the eye has upon the man through literary means i. e. devices used but we do not know if this is yet because he is mad or if he is indeed a sadist who want to hurt the old man but it is highly unlikely that it is because he is sadistic because he appears to bear no grudge against the man and indeed seems close to the old man but he does h8 the “vulture” eye and will go to any means necessary to get rid of it…
even if it means killing the old man.Though this is a mad thought that he would kill the man he is close friends with, we can see clearly from his speech an thoughts which are filled with the tedious repetition and talking to him-self and the dis-jointed sentence structure and pattern of someone who is clearly not in the right frame of mind. However I think it would be going to far to call him mad as he is a perfectionist in the way he laid out his plan and how he followed the hole way through and he planned every single step.I believe he would have got away with it all if he had not been as arrogant as to invite the police officers into the place where he had killed his friend. In this area it is hard to judge right from wrong as he is not in the right frame of mind but he does seem to have brief moment of clear thought as he is able to plan the whole thing then to also conduct a lie that is plausible in order to deceive the officers while also conducting a demeanour of anxiety and concern for his ‘lost friend’.All the while we can hear his innermost thoughts and we know what has happened and also what he plans next but we must also feel sorry for him because if not for the eye, this man would be contend and his friend would still be with him.
However in the short story ‘An Arrest’ we do not feel compassion or sorrow for what this man has one as he has killed his brother-in-law and also the jailer who looked after him.I believe we are meant to feel sorry for him but we find it impossible to until he comes head to head with the ‘jailer’ who appears to be who he is described to be but it is highly unlikely the jailer would be able to recover as fast as did and then to run faster and overtake the man in the forest much less even finding him and stay there waiting. My theory in the matter is that the jailer was just a physical manifestation of the mans’ subconscious guilt for killing this man with no just cause.In conclusion ai do believe that all of these short stories have just the right amount of suspense that keeps you wanting to read more and find out what happens, and also the right amount of tension that lets you almost visualise what is happening and makes you want to put the book down out of fear and anxiety that makes for a truly gruelling ghost-story.