Atmosphere and Tension in The Red Room, The Signalman, and The Inexperienced Ghost

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Discuss the ways in which The Red Room, The Signalman and The Inexperienced Ghost create and sustain atmosphere and tension. It is clear that atmosphere and tension are of fundamental importance to the success and effectiveness of a ghostly tale. As Susan Hill, a prolific writer of ghostly tales, says ‘one thing a ghost story must have is atmosphere’. Also it is clear that ‘The Red Room’, ‘The Signallman’ and ‘The Inexperienced Ghost’ create tension and atmosphere at varying degrees. The role of the narrator is of fundamental importance when creating atmosphere and tension in the ghostly genre. In ‘The Red Room’, the narrator goes to a castle to investigate a haunting. The reader throughout the story is restricted from knowing of the history of the narrator and reasons questions such as ‘Why is he there?’. For example, in ‘The Red Room’, the narrator says, ‘“It is what I came for”’, he does not ellaborate on this at all. Similiarly the narrator of ‘The Signalman’ is vague about why he is there, he seems to just want a chat with this lonely man. In both stories both narrators are extremely curious, this curiosity can help to explain the strange reasons of them being there, although it would not seem to be a satisfactory reason. The vagueness and curiosity of these narrators adds uncertainty to the readers mind and so aiding the atmosphere, though not necesarilly creating it. Also having a narrator helps to increase a story’s credibility and it also adds emotion. In ‘The Red Room’ the narrator describes his time in the red room and how he tried to reasure himself that there are no such things as ghosts, even when faced with clear evidence of it. He helps the tension to climax by his increased desperation, ‘I was now almost frantic with the horror of the coming darkness, and my self-possesion deserted me’. His attempts at being logical had failed and this helped the tension more than if he had believed in ghosts all the way through. In ‘The Inexperienced Ghost’ it would appear that at the start the role of the narrator is to detract tension from the story. However, towards the end it is this casual friendliness that helps to increase tension and atmosphere, ‘I, at least, with a sort of tight, stiff feeling about me…’. There is a much greater change in atmosphere and tension than in ‘The Red Room’ and ‘The Signalman’, which both start off extremely dreary. It is clear that in all these stories the narrator is put to great effect in creating atmosphere and tension through their very pronounced human

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