How Do Pre 1914 Writers Create Mystery And Suspense

How Do Pre 1914 Writers Create Mystery And Suspense In Their Short


Common themes in the stories of the nineteenth century are horror,

mystery and the unexplained. This is because in the Victorian times,

people were concerned with problems such as superstition and

witchcraft. Common features of Victorian short stories are paranoid

characters. The stories ‘The Withered Arm’, ‘The Red Room’ and ‘The

Signalman’ teach a modern audience the results and consequences of

superstition and paranoia.

The Withered Arm was written by Thomas Hardy. It is about a woman who

is trying to bring up her illegitimate son while she tries to overcome

her jealousy as her sons father brings home his new beautiful wife.

The main message that Thomas Hardy is trying to get across to the

reader is that you should be careful what you wish for as it may come

true. Also that what goes around comes around. The main character in

this story is Rhoda Brook, the mother of farmer Lodges son. In the

story she is described as ‘a thin fading woman of thirty’ this shows

that she is slowly wasting away. Rhoda Brooks is a mysterious

character because the reader doesn’t know whether Rhoda is a witch or

not, Thomas Hardy doesn’t reveal this fact because it makes the story

mysterious and leaves the reader wondering. Another reason why Rhoda

is mysterious is because of relationship with farmer Lodge and their

baby together. Rhoda is also mysterious because she was once beautiful

‘The radiance lit her pale check, and made her dark eyes, that had

once been handsome, seem handsome anew.’

The Red Room was written by H.G Wells the story is about a man who is

trying to find out whether a room in the Lorraine castle is haunted or

not. The mess...

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...on, pathetic fallacy and has more descriptions in it.

Also because it enables the reader to visualise the settings better. I

think that the setting in The Signalman represent loneliness. The

setting in The Red Room represents paranoia and terror and the setting

in The Withered Arm represent fear and superstition.

Therefore, Victorian writers successfully created mysterious short

stories through using chapters, less characters and detailed setting.

The most effective story is The Withered Arm this is because it has

the most imaginative and interesting story line. Also because Thomas

Hardy doesn’t reveal everything to the reader as it lets them debate

over whether Rhoda is a witch or not. It shows a modern audience the

effects and consequences of superstition. The moral or message of the

story may have been be careful what you wish for as it may come true.
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