Compare and contrast the ways in which the authors set out
Compare and contrast the ways in which the authors set out

Compare and contrast the ways in which the authors set out

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In this essay, the two stories that I will be comparing are: ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ which was written by Ray Bradbury and ‘A Terribly Strange Bed’ written by Wilkie Collins. Although written in different periods (one in the 19th Century and the other in the 20th Century) both writers succeed in playing on the readers’ fears and therefore both producing good quality thriller stories. I will be analysing which techniques in each story create the right atmosphere and overall which story is more effective.

Tension is shown clearly throughout the structures of both stories, however the writers use different techniques to create suspense in their writing. In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ the writer tends to use a lot of false plateaus which changes the pattern of the structure and therefore the tension in the story tends to rise and fall which may leave the reader somewhat ‘wary’ of what is going to happen next. An example of this is when Lavina and the rest of the girls are walking and they see a shadow of someone in front of them.

“Got you! The man jumped from behind a tree”. We later find out that the man was their friend, Tom Dillon playing a joke on them. The effect of having these false plateaus in the story is that it leaves the reader insecure in some way and they are left to feel somewhat uneasy throughout the rest of the story. However it keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and wanting to read more because they

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want to know what happens next. In contrast, Wilkie Collins uses a different method of creating tension and suspense, nevertheless it is equally effective.

In ‘A Terribly Strange Bed’ we can see that the writer has chosen to gradually build up tension rather than continuously playing on the readers fears. An example of how he does this in the story is when Faulkner is in his bed and the bed-top is being lowered. “Down and down, without pausing and without sounding, came the bed top… till the dusty odour from the lining of the canopy came stealing into my nostrils. ” The way Collins manages to create this sense of tension and suspense is by using emotive and descriptive words.

This helps the reader visualise the story and secondly it helps create a bit more tension as well. The effect of having a gradual build up to the story is that it gets the reader ‘involved’ in the story and furthermore, like with the other story, it keeps you wanting to read more. The setting in both stories plays a big role in building up the atmosphere for the story and it also helps create a sense of fear and tension for the reader. In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ the writer has chosen to set the story in a ravine. The use of this setting has connotations of danger, isolation and death.

From this only the readers can tell that something bad is going to happen because the story is set in a dangerous place. By using this setting it instantly plays on the readers fears

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due to the fact that most people these days do not like do be isolated from other people and the reader in some way feels like the character. Therefore that makes them feel cut-off from civilisation. In comparison, the second story, ‘A Terribly Strange Bed’ is set in Paris. Although this setting might not seem frightening to us now, in the 19th Century (when the story was written) people in Britain saw France as a very unpredictable country.

This was due to the fact that during this time the Napoleonic War was taking place and Britain had a feeling that France would attack. The effect of having this sort of setting in the story is that (depending on when you are reading it) the reader can in someway relate to the character in the situation and in result this will make them feel more uncomfortable and uneasy. Furthermore Collins also chose to set the main bit of the story in a gambling house which is seen as dangerous due to the untrustworthy people that are in there.

In addition a gambling house is seen as ‘immoral’ and this would create fear in a 19th Century reader because in the past, people tended to be more religious and they would think of a gambling house as a corrupt place, also they may have a fear of God and what He might do to them if they go ‘the wrong way’ in life. Another technique that Ray Bradbury uses to create a sense of fear in the setting of ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ is by using emotive and descriptive words. This helps the reader visualise the setting and maybe even makes them feel like they are there in the story.

An example of when the writer uses this emotive language is near the beginning of the story when he is describing the ravine. “Always the black dynamo was humming, with electric sparkles where fireflies hovered. ” Similarly in ‘A Terribly Strange Bed’ the writer also uses words to create a sense of fear in the setting, but in a different way. “Ah! sacre petit polisson de Napoleon! ” The effect of having French words in the story is that it leaves the reader feeling very dubious because they do not understand what is going on and therefore they may feel somewhat alienated and uneasy about the people and the situation.

Furthermore not only does the descriptive words help to create fear in their readers. Due to the way society is now ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ would scare women more than men because these days more crimes take place at night; which is when the story is set and also women are seen as more vulnerable than men and therefore more crimes take place with women as their victims. In addition the idea of Lavina and the other two girls walking on their own at night will scare women because they can relate to the characters and they themselves know what kind of threat there is out there for women.

The imagery throughout both stories plays a significant role in helping to create tension and suspense. In ‘The

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