What Makes The Signalman An Effective Mystery Story
What Makes The Signalman An Effective Mystery Story

What Makes The Signalman An Effective Mystery Story

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  • Pages: 2 (970 words)
  • Published: October 14, 2017
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The setting of the story creates a mysterious feeling from the start. Early on in the story Dickens begins building up the tension, the opening line says “Halloa! Below there!” this gets us immediately into the story showing us we must be follow the story carefully to understand it.

This also gets the reader-asking questions like who is saying this? And whom are they speaking to? We are given an eerie description of the cutting area; we are also given an indication that there may be something wrong with the figure at the bottom of the cutting. When the narrator calls down to the figure there is no response by the figure this leads us to believe there is something more to the man.Dickens portrayal of the cutting and the tunnel is very detailed for example Zigzag and Gloomy. These words give the reader an image of the tunnel and cutting, resulting in the reader feeling involved.

Dickens describes the area as “as if I had left the natural world” this tells us that there supernatural undertones running through the story. The story is set in the 19th century so this would make the supernatural genre more believable.The signalman’s appearance and behaviour is also quite odd, we are told he looks at the bell when it doesn’t ring and also talks of a ghost. This is all painting a picture of a mysterious looking man. The signalman feels a real abhorrence for the tunnel he speaks of how he ran out of the place a lot faster than he ran in when he sa

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w the ghost.

Dickens effectively draws us into the plot and shortens the sentences and begins adding comma’s to build up the tension and anxiety. Dickens use personification, like “angry sunset” and “violent pulsation” adds greatly to the story’s impact.The signalman has three main characters in the story he keeps their identity hidden until he has to explain their meaning in the story this is called anonymity. This adds to the mystery allowing the reader to make up his or her own ideas on the characters identity.

One of the only things we are told about the narrator is he has been “shut up within narrow limits” we are told no more about his previous situation through so we are left guessing whether he was in the Army, Prison or even a mental home.On page 108 we learn more about the signalman he is actually well educated and even attempts to teach himself whilst he is in the box. We learn the signalman used to be a student of natural philosophy. But then we ask ourselves the question Why would should a highly qualified man be working in a menial job?We can also see how all the meetings take place within the cutting at night is so none of the tension is lost? If the pair where to meet on a hot summers day there wouldn’t be the same eerie feeling.In a later conversation between the two the signalman says, “I am troubled sir, I am troubled”. This conversation continues on the second visit when the signalman’

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outburst is explained.

We are given vivid descriptions of the spectre’s actions, this is when the narrator learns why his shouting had such an effect on the man. Throughout the story there is a flow of tension and we are often led into a false sense of security like when dickens starts the sentence “next evening was a lovely evening, and I walked out early to enjoy it” this gives us hope that the story might end happily.The whole story works on a few main genres these are:Ghost Story = the spectre is like a ghost so gives a true ghost story.Supernatural = we are told about other world.

And also the main genreMysterious = the mystery is the main theme throughout the story.A lot of things work on the mysterious theory of 3’s for example the spectre visits three times and so does the narrator I not sure whether this is a link but they fit the plot nicely. So could the Narrator be the Spectre? Or Tom the Train driver who runs down the signalman?Tension is what keeps the reader on tender hooks throughout the story this is what keeps us reading and produces an effective mystery.Because the story was written pre 1900 there is a different style of language that crops up. Archaic language adds to the detailed descriptions in the Signalman although this style is often complex it adds to the effectiveness of this mystery story.The third visit is the final visit the narrator makes and is also when he discovers the tragic death.

When the narrator arrives he can see there is something wrong there where crowds of men and a tent positioned next to the imposing track and tunnel the narrator inquires at the situation and is shocked to discover the death. This is where the story unravels and tie’s together we find out how Tom shouts the exact same words the narrator called on his first visit.This is when the reader is left to make their own decisions as to what was going through the signalman’s head. And the narrator is left thinking if he had told the signalman’s superiors this problem could have been averted perhaps being treacherous would have saved a life.

SummaryThe title of the essay was “What Makes The Signalman An Effective Mystery Story?” I feel all the points I have discussed are needed in a mystery story in order to produce an effective mystery. I feel the ending is the key part to the story because it is unexplained and leaves us tense and unsettled with many questions unanswered.

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