The two stories, “The Landlady”-Roald Dahl and “A teribly strange bed”-Wilkie Collins, are both very similar in terms of genre, central characters and events. The genre in both stories is suspence but also, more so in “The Landlady”, an air of mystery. The central characters are both in a ‘foreign’ city and are provoked to stay in a strange place to sleep for the night. Also, both characters are complimented refusly by the owners of the guest house so they feel comfortable. Both of the characters are vulnerable as one is drunk and the other is quite young and feeling sorry for his “Landlady” as she seems to be very alone.
The authors common goal is to keep the reader interested by creating suspence and mysterious happenings. In “The Landlady” Dahl uses various techniques in the first few pages to create tension. When Billy first arrives in Bath, the evening was ‘deadly cold’ and the ‘wind was like a flat blade of ice’. This indicates the image of something sinister and chilling in the air, as if everything is not as it seems. When Billy begins to advance down the road he is set on staying at a pub named ‘The Bell and Dragon’, but on his way he finds a boarding house on a ‘once swanky street’.
But the houses had all been neglected, this makes the reader think that the residents are probably very old or the houses are empty. When Billy spots the notice reading ‘bed and breakfast’ he becomes strangely to it. The narrator pu...
ts us at ease about the B&B by pointing out that there are flowers in the window and a few pets in the lounge, this makes the place seem homely and welcoming as it makes the B&B look like a nice and friendly place to stay. The B&B seems strangely perfect as though it is slighty out of the ordinary due to the clenliness as though it is untouched.
The story “A Terribly Strange Bed” is written in the first person and is seen directly through the narrators eyes. We become very aware of the narrators situation in the first few paragraphs, he makes it clear that he was young, impressionable and in Paris where he felt obliged to take in as much of the city as possible. The narrator is with a friend and they decide not to visit a respectable gambling house but to experience genuine ‘poverty-stricken gaming with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over it all’ They wanted the excitement of a back-street gambling house with normal low life citizens who they could laugh and joke with.
When they reach the gambling house, they enter the upstairs chief gambling room. Fear and suspense is built up by describing what the narrator saw as he entered. ‘Nothing but tragedy,- mute weird tragedy’. The entire atmosphere of the room is described as being ‘something to weep over’. None of the gamblers spoke, they all sat in deadly silence watching the cards turn over as if the next hand may change their life forever.
The physical descriptions of the other players seems utterly repulsive, -‘thin haggard lon
haired young man, whose sunken eyes fiercely watched…… ‘ -‘flabby, fat-faced pimply player….. ‘ ‘dirty wrinkled old man, with vulture eyes and the darned greatcoat….. ‘ When the narrator begins to win his fortune the players are shocked and really can’t believe his luck. Dahl’s creation of the Landlady character is very interesting.
She is a very unlikely villain as she seems very warm and friendly. She is always described as ‘smiling’ -‘she gave a warm welcoming smile’. Her physical description also makes you feel as though she couldn’t possibly harm anyone ‘a round pink face and very gentle blue eyes’ When she speaks she seems as though she is looking out for Billy and trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible.
She says ‘It’s all ready for you my dear’, this seems as though she had been waiting for him to arrive. She then tells Billy ‘We have it all to ourselves’. The situation seems very peculiar as she seems to anticipate everything Billy says. This makes the reader become slightly suspicious of her due to her overly keen attitude. She also seems to be slightly crazed which makes you wonder what has happened to her in the past. Billy finds his landlady very welcoming yet ‘slightly dotty’. He thought she seemed ‘terribly nice’ and reminded him of ‘the mother of one’s best school friend’.
She makes you feel uncomfortable by doing many unusual things. She tells Billy that she only lets acceptable young gentlemen into her home. She has kept everything immaculate and pristine in case someone exactly right knocks on her door. When Billy reads the guest-book, he recognises their are only two other entries in there, but he recognises both if the names, he enquires with his landlady if they were famous but he then realises they were both people who had gone missing while on a walking tour of the west country. When Billy asks if they left fairly recently the landlady replies in shock, ‘Left?
They never left… They’re on the third floor, both of them together. ‘ This lines tells the reader that the landlady is not as she seems. She must be holding a dark secret. Billy is obviously shocked at what he had just heard so ‘… one of her white hands patted him comfortingly on the knee. ‘ She is trying to reassure him that everything is alright, and that he shouldn’t be alarmed by what he has just heard. This makes the reader become very aware that something very strange has happened, and the landlady is unveiling her secrets to Billy. The reader would be suprised by this as she seemed quite gentle and kind.
You fell that something terrible is going to happen when the landlady tells Billy that the guessed had never left the house, this makes you wonder if Billy will be victim to a gruesome murder. The Old soldier in “A teribly strange bed” automatically seems to be more of an untrustworthy character,the landlady as he becomes intrigued by the narrators affairs at once. After Faulkner’s friend leaves, the old soldier approaches him and whispers hoarsely in his
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