The Signalman, by Charles Dickens; The Battler by Ernest Hemingway

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The Signalman, by Charles Dickens; The Battler by Ernest Hemingway - In what way do the two authors create and maintain interest and suspense in their stories? In Charles Dickens' 'The Signalman' the story starts by introducing the main character (a railway signalman). Another character is also introduced: the narrator. Dickens describes the signalman as a 'dark sallow man' and as having a 'dark beard' and 'heavy eyebrows'. It seems that Dickens wishes to portray the signalman as a dark and ominous figure. However, he then sheds some light on the character of the signalman. Dickens portrays him to be very lonely and afraid of something. This is shown in the way he 'turns himself about and looked down the Line' when the narrator calls to him. It is as if he is expecting something unusual. The narrator is obviously telling the story and almost introduces himself to be a very curious and helpful character. Dickens gives us no physical description of him, but we are told that he is a retired man who is interested in new technology: like the railway. So I imagined him as being of Middle Class status and intelligent. It seems he has the time to be interested in the new technologies of the time, almost like a hobby. From some of the things he says and does in the story, Dickens gives the impression that he is not a very perceptive person. For example, the very opening line is 'Halloa! Below there!' This is what the narrator calls to the signalman. He does not understand that this may be starling to the signalman on a solitary railway line and that is why he does not reply. Dickens also uses setting very well to create atmosphere, as at the two characters first meeting. The deep railway cutting is described a... ... middle of paper ... ...se, maintain it until a point and then let it go in a climax of excitement for the reader. However, their techniques of interesting the reader again slightly differ. For example, Charles Dickens uses complex metaphors when describing the setting: 'a crooked prolongation of this great dungeon'; 'barbarous air', which was popular at the time. Even the grammatical and linguistic usage by Dickens is far superior to Hemingway. Dickens uses colons, semi-colons etc, whereas Hemingway rarely uses anything like that. Hemingway draws on very few alternative words. For example, the word 'said' is used to tell us who is speaking: 'Nick said', 'said Ad', 'Bugs said'. This is done to suite his audience (the working class). Although the two authors have quite opposing styles, they both use relatively the same techniques when it comes to creating and maintaining suspense.

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