Victorian Ghost Stories

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Victorian Ghost Stories

This essay will try and find a formula, after reading a selection of

stories and focusing on these to discover the formula. The stories

were ‘The Ostler’ by Wilkie Collins (1855), ‘The Red Room’ by

H.G.Wells (1896),’The Signalman’ by Charles Dickens (1866). To try and

prove there is a Victorian structure or formula to the stories, they

need to be analysed. This essay will analyse how effective the

openings of the stories and will discuss the techniques of the various

authors to create an effective ghost story. By way of using a modus

operandi- also called a formula. The stories are very alike, so this

leads us to believe a structure does exist. At the time of the stories

publications, it was the Victorian era of Britain. Queen Victoria was

on the throne and it was a time of new advances in technology and new

inventions, also a time of British expansion across the globe. The

stories are therefore slightly influenced by this background to when

they were written. This essay will analyse, Victorian influences as

social division, advances in technology and the Victorian interest in

the supernatural.

The openings are designed to grab the reader and make them carry on.

It can also influence the reader whether to feel the opening emotions

and feelings of the story. The stories this essay is dealing with, all

start in the middle of a scene. This immediately makes us wonder what

has happened so far. It’s as if we have eavesdropped on the stories,

only to catch a part of it. Really, because the start of story starts

randomly, we feel perplexed by it. Another interesting point is that

the stories all use a first ...

... middle of paper ... But to get a good atmosphere you need a good

structure, and vice a versa.

In conclusion, I think Victorian writers did follow a formula when

writing. But this formula is just the things that make a gothic story.

So all they would have to do was to follow the gothic principles. This

was noticed in all the stories analysed. But due to the modern (at the

time) setting of the railway in ‘the Signalman’, means today a reader

may not find it as intimidating as a Victorian reader. It does use,

however, some of the gothic traditions. Such as ghosts, curses and

senses of the supernatural. The stories are effective as mystery and

ghost themed stories. I can see this because of the use of gothic

themes. Overall, they use gothic values, but the authors use different

settings, while at the same time use the same techniques.
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