How does Charles Dickens use the ghost story genre to provoke fear?

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How does Charles Dickens use the ghost story genre to provoke fear into both the Victorian & modern reader of The Signalman? Like many other authors, Charles Dickens wrote from his own life experiences. He wrote “The Signalman” due to a horrific incidence where the train derailed at a high speed and killed 10 people. However, when it came to his ghost stories, he drew inspiration from a great imagination because of his childhood where he lived in poverty and would have come into contact with some of life’s different and not always pleasant, characters. Normally ghost stories in that time, would have included monsters or ghosts and these were usually always “evil” whilst the characters were usually “good”. Also the fact that a typical ghost story at the time would have the story concluding in a good way because people believed that “good” should always overcome “bad”. People in the Victorian era were very wary of all the new modern things that were happening around them, such as the new train network. They were also at the time very aware of their religion and many of them were god-fearing people and as such were quite frightened by anything that they could perceive as having anything to do with the devil or black magic. Ghosts were an unexplained phenomenon and the Victorians saw this as something to be feared as opposed to something that could be easily explained. The opening line “Halloa” Below there!” instantly gives the reader a sense of expectancy and it makes people think about “who is asking this” and “who are they speaking too”. The line also draws people into the story, as if they are involved. I think this line may have provoked fear into a Victorian reader more than a modern reader, bec... ... middle of paper ... ... fact that seeing the ghost usually meant the death of someone, but the story explains that the signalman saw the circumstances of his own death, not someone else’s. The Victorians at the time were quite fearful of the railways. Considering they had no cars, or planes, meant that a large number of people were actually killed because of rail accidents. This in itself would have been enough to fuel any fear they had. Victorians were very interested in the supernatural, and seemed to enjoy reading about ghosts. Many more people went to church than now and, were quite convinced there was more than just life. The afterlife was quite commonly believed in. As modern readers I think that we can read the book and enjoy it, without the fear attached. We are more sceptical about the idea of ghosts and need proof of sometimes before we can accept it on face value.
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