Tension and Fear in The Old Nurse's Tale and The Red Room

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Examine how Elizabeth Gaskell and H.G Wells build up tension and convey fear in two gothic short stories; The Old Nurse’s Tale and The Red Room. Gothic fiction emerged in the late eighteenth Century. A Gothic story is a style of fiction characterized by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious, or violent incidents. In most gothic stories the writer challenges the intersection of the supernatural and the rational and inspires dread and horror. In this essay I will examine how the writers of both ‘The Red Room’ (H.G Wells) and ‘The Old Nurse’s Tale’ (Elizabeth Gaskell) build up tension and convey fear. I will compare both stories by examining the similarities and differences between the two as well as using my personal opinion to decide the most successful story which builds up the most tension and most fear. Changing the mood during a story makes it more exciting and less predictable which captivates the reader’s interests and builds up a great amount of tension. Both stories show evidence of significant mood change, which created a successful amount of suspense when I read them. ‘The Red Room’ effectively begins in medias-res, which is very effective as from the very first sentence there is an immediate cause for concern. It also effectively attracts the immediate attention from the reader’s interest and from the very beginning we become aware the story is gothic and are instantaneously caught up in the suspense of the story. The story begins at a steady climax and rises up into a state of absolute climax. Throughout the story it has many jumps of suspense until the reader is left shrouded in it. There are supernatural occurrences from the very beginning of the story and they... ... middle of paper ... ...se’s Tale’ ends supernaturally and the ‘Red Room’ ends rationally. Some parts of each story I did not like, for example, in the ‘Red Room’ the old withered servants appear very old and extremely exaggerated beyond the point of seriousness, and I did not like the long-winded irrelevant points in ‘The Old Nurse’s Tale’. Overall I think the most effective story for instilling fear, tension and suspense is ‘The Old Nurse’s Tale’ as it was more easily understandable and it left a more effective ending as it left the supernatural occurrences left unexplained whereas the ‘Red Room’ provided a rational explanation for the events. I also found the story more interesting and I found the supernatural events more intense. I also found that ‘The Old Nurse’s Tale’ was generally more gothic than ‘The Red Room’ as ‘The Red Room’ was not gothic at the end of the story.

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