Comparing The Signalman by Dickens and The Withered Arm by Hardy

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Comparing The Signalman by Dickens and The Withered Arm by Hardy

'The Signalman' and 'The Withered Arm', are two short stories showing

supernatural events. Authors, Dickens, and Hardy intrigue readers by

using certain techniques. These techniques add suspense and mystery to

the story, which makes the reader, want to read further on.

The openings in both narratives begin with a short dialogue. The

dialogue in 'The Signalman' begins with the narrator talking to the

Signalman: "Halloa! Below there!" This throws the readers into action

and engages them into the story. It introduces them to the characters.

The setting of the place is one of an eerie atmosphere. It hints that

something unnatural and ominous will occur. The setting is described

as a dreary and hostile place. It creates an image of a dangerous and

"barbarous place".

The opening of 'The Signalman leaves the readers engrossed in the

story by creating a mysterious plot. In the opening, we are introduced

to the two characters. The characters remain nameless which ties the

reader into the plot and therefore makes the reader thrilled, wanting

to find out about the identities of the characters. From the outset of

the story, Dickens creates a sense of mystery that startles readers.

The strange behaviour of the Signalman creates tension and raises

mysterious questions such as, why is he behaving in an unusual way?

The opening of 'The Withered Arm, is written in such a way to engage

the reader from the beginning of the story. Like 'The Signalman', 'The

Withered Arm' aims to throw the reader into action by using dialogue.

Thomas Hardy uses dialogue between employees who are work...

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are expected to make a decision for themselves whether they believe in

the existence of the supernatural. Whereas in 'The Withered Arm', the

death of Gertrude shows that, she is killed by a remedy and shows that

it is an unexplained event. Both of these events are unexplained which

shows that they are similar to each other and the question of

supernatural powers arises. Readers are left to make up their own mind

about whether they want to believe in the existence of the

supernatural or whether they choose not to. These stories are both

different. 'The Signalman' is a ghost story and the atmosphere and the

ghost figures reveal this. This tells readers instantly that

supernatural events are likely to occur. However, 'The Withered Arm',

is set in a calm atmosphere so readers do not expect mysterious events

to occur.
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