There are many different ways in which the supernatural are interpreted in the two short stories. In the openings of the stories, the first similarity was that they both open with direct speech. This shows apprehension which makes the reader read on. Most stories have an introduction so these seem very different already. As soon as you read on you see that both of the stories will be focusing on the theme of the supernatural. This is shown by the word ‘Tangible ghost’ (The Red Room) and is also shown by the actions of the signal man looking the opposite way to which the original noises were first heard.
This creates a sense of something abnormal. In the Red Room, the attitude of the old people set the tension and suspense due to them insisting that there is some sort of supernatural being, living and haunting under their roof. The guest calms the tension when, by the way he phrases his words, he tells them that he is not scared and will never be scared of any non-living creature. The tension is brought up to a higher level when the old people mention that they will accept no blame if anything happens to him whilst he is alone upstairs; however, in The Signal Man, the tension and suspense is created with an entirely different approach.
They do this by focusing on the atmosphere and the actions of the signal man. When the man calls down to him, the signalman does not reply: this makes him seem isolated and not part of this world. Whilst the readers are still wondering why he is such a strange character, the atmosphere builds up with the detailed description of the oncoming train, however, the description does not sound like a train but more like a vicious earthquake ready to hit and cause lots of damage. “vague vibration in the earth and air quickly changing into a violent pulsation, and an oncoming rush that caused me to start back as though it had force to draw me down.
In the signal man the, the description of the long zig zaging path creates a sense of dinginess and the sort of atmosphere you would find when you least expect it. The body language of the signal man makes us think that he may be waiting for something and is not aware of the surroundings and anything that is happening in them. His posture shows he is quite relaxed so what he is looking at cannot be too scary. This, as the readers, makes us wonder because the story itself was said to be base on the supernatural. In the same case as the signal man, the posture and actions of the characters say a lot about how reliable they are as people.
In this case, the old people being under the influence of alcohol makes everything they say even more unreliable; more unreliable than the thought of the supernatural actually existing. The way they were towards their guest made him feel even more uncomfortable and want to spend more time away from them. “The three of them made me feel very uncomfortable, with their gaunt silences, their bent carriage and their evident unfriendliness towards me and one another. ”
He uses sarcasm when he talks to the old people by replying with the sentence… “Will you show me to this Haunted Room of yours? This makes the readers feel no sense of atmosphere at all until the old man replied. The same thing happened in the signal man when the narrator called down and there was no reply. This, as I mentioned before, creates tension and suspense because you wonder what he will say, if he says anything at all! When he does reply, the guest heard the answer he didn’t want to hear and gradually the tension and suspense builds up. It seems more than coincidence when the old people start to talk at once. When the old women says “This night of all nights”, you know instantly that there is going to be an event happening.
It makes you read on because you want to know what is going to happen. It makes you wonder in a way if the old people may have planned something to try and trick their guest. This makes you read on because you want to know where and what is going to happen. As with the red room, the more of the story you read the more you realise that the tension goes up and down through out the story. The part in the story describes the area of which the signal man is surrounded by and where he has to work. It tries to make it seem a really horrible and forbidding place where nobody would want to work.
They described it as a ‘Great Dungeon’ which was depressing and forbidding. This again creates atmospheric tension because it makes you ask yourself why anybody would isolate themselves as much as this. When he spoke to the man and the man didn’t even reply with a yes or a no, this put the unexpected visitor in an awkward position because the man didn’t know what to do. The visitor thought that the old man was too quiet and thought that he was very strange. “There was something in the man that daunted me! ” The next few sentences describe the actions of the old people in the story of the Red Room.
They describe them all gathering around the fireplace as if the fire can protect them from something which will soon happen. The old woman uses repetitive phrases which makes it seem that what she says does have some sort of importance. “This night of all nights! ” When the man asks if the guest is really going, the old people are surprised because they didn’t believe that he was really going. The way that the old people cluster around the fire builds tension because it makes them seem as if they know what is there and they may have already encountered the unnatural ‘thing’.
As for the signal man, at this stage in the story, the man finally introduces himself to the signal man but is not too impressed by the attitude of the man. It was only mid way through a conversation when the man decisively agreed that he may have been a spirit, ghost or just something unnatural to us. As the man dares to walk away, he then decides not to leave and to try and make sense of the situation. He asks the signal man another question hoping that he will reply with a fastidious answer. When he answered with more than a one word answer the man seemed very surprised that he had answered at all.
The way that he didn’t answer at first made us wonder what he was focusing on or whether he just didn’t want to answer. In a way this builds suspense by the actions of the man. Referring to the red room again, when the guest leaves the old people, one of the old people continues to use repetitive phrases but this time it is a different phrase. “It’s your own choosing! ” The description of the hall way he is about to walk down creates tension because the way that it is described, you wouldn’t really want to walk down there on your own especially after sitting through a lecture, well not when the old people told you things like that.
Whilst walking up to his room his room he ponders over how odd the three pensioners are. So far through both of these stories, they show that they are very similar in the way that they both open with direct speech and how similar they are with raising the tension and suspense. They are both good as far as the first pages go, however you will have to read on to see how much more the tension can build up to. The signal man tries to accuse the other man of being seen earlier down the track. The man said he looked familiar and that was his excuse for not answering the first question the man asked him.
The signal man describes himself as having worked so much that he has formed into the way he lives. This does make him seem a very weird character and something unlike everybody else. This creates a sense of suspense because you would want to find out if the man was what we are presuming him to be. A few lines down it describes him as being an average person who knows maths & English but then tells us that he is forbidden(when on duty which was most of the time) to go anywhere but where he remains at this moment in time, however, having a rhetorical question asking if it is necessary makes us wonder!
Was it necessary for him when on duty to remain in that channel of damp air, and could it never rise to the sunshine from between those high stone walls? ” The way it describes the man as being it, implies that he is not a human as such. The narrator tries to form his own ideas of what may have happened in his life to make him want to isolate himself, however this time there was no response from the man to the remark that the visitor had made. When referring back to the red room, the story of the signal man, as yet, does not seem to involve the mentioning of supernatural as much as the red room.
In the red room the characters themselves converse the mentioning of ghosts by discussing the ghosts themselves, nevertheless, the signal man does show it but more through the actions of the signal man and the surrounding area. The further you get into the story the more of the suspense and tension you see emerge. Throughout the middle of the story, the tension and the suspense is the same and the atmosphere becomes the main objective as to where the tension and the suspense is featured the most.
Apart from the two very different story lines, the theme is the same throughout. It is all about building up tension and making the reader read on. In both of these stories, they both kept me reading on and the way they did it was brilliant. At the end of each paragraph they would leave you with a cliff hanger but at the beginning of the next, they would start talking about something different so you would read more into the paragraph and continue reading the part you were reading until you reach the end of the book.
Due to both the stories being very long, I am going to continue to analyse the endings of both of the stories. Towards the end of the red room, the tension starts to build up dramatically due to the amount of atmospheric adjectives which are mentioned. This part is where he finally starts to believe that there may actually be something supernatural in the house. He is very sceptical and at times does not know whether to believe it. Events which may make him very cautious help him to believe that it’s not all a matter of coincidence.
The way his posture is described makes him seem as he is trying to frighten away anything which may be present in the room. His apprehension is showed when they try to describe the way he moves around the room. This shows he is scared of something. Whilst walking around in the room he describes the feeling as “Trapped in darkness. ” At one point he starts to get into a bit of a panic and tries to escape from the room; this shows suspense because he was very determined at the beginning of the story to prove to the pensioners, that there was no such thing as ghosts.
The tension is built up to the maximum in this part because he is in the panic and the next minute he had woken up, didn’t know what happened and didn’t know where he was. This was a relief to the readers when the story continued and he had actually woken up. The tension and suspense came to an end when he found himself in the presence of the old people again. He didn’t know where he was and what had happened, however us being the readers, we already know what has happened. This leaves us with no tension at all at the end.
The last bit of tension mentioned is when he wakes up and he is bleeding. We ask ourselves was it through him falling over or did something attack him. They revel in the end that it was where he had fallen over. At he end of the story, they also revel that it is not a ghost that is haunting them but there own fear that is haunting them. At this point in this story, it makes you think about what other things or images you imagine! Back to the last part of the last story… In the signal man during the middle of the story, the most suspense is created in this part.
Unlike the end of the Red Room, this story ends with the death of someone and the entire plot turns out as you least expect it. The only thing which is similar between the two endings of the stories is that they both make you think about events which may have happened in your life which relate to those mentioned in the book. They find out that the events that were occurring were happening for a reason but the bad thing was there was no way in preventing this from happening. It makes the narrator quite angry because he would like to help him but there is no way he can do this.
When they see another figure (the one that is sent to symbolise the end of the Signal man’s life), this creates the most tension in the story, but even more so because it involved the main character and the readers will want to know if he survives. The narrator knows there is something wrong and so does the signal man in his own way, when they see the light… “With an irresistible sense that something was wrong… ” The narrator cannot believe it when he finds out that the man is dead. Being annoyed with himself, he takes a walk to the first place he ever saw the signal man.
He recalls the other times he had spoken to him and the times the man had told him about the figures. He thought he was stupid for not believing him but he didn’t want to believe it. The tension and suspense is created in the last few scenes when he recalls the phrases the signal man said, he then realises what they meant and wondered if there was anyway in which he was able to prevent this from happening. The signal man was my favourite out of all of the stories. It gave me more of a sense as to what was happening and in my opinion; it had more suspense and tension but also had a much better story line!