Telltale Heart is not significant to building up suspense; however
there are a few elements that do.
How is tension and suspense built up and maintained in at least two
Gothic horror stories?
The genre of Gothic Horror was developed during 19th and early 20th
century and had a popular appeal to the new middle class people who
sought entertainment. Gothic Horror has common characteristics of
suspense, fear and would often include a rational, scientifically
minded character who fails to heed warnings. Gothic horror tales
often have exotic and mythical influences. The night and the
unreassuring lack of light play a big part in adding to the hellish
One of the key ways that tension is built up in gothic horror stories
is through the setting. For example, “The Red Room” is set in an old
dark castle. It is quite remote. Tension is built up with the
portrayal of the “long draughty subterranean passage” which eventually
leads to “that large sombre room”; the effect of such a setting is to
give a feeling of impending doom.
Likewise “The Monkey’s Paw” is set in a “beastly, slushy,
out-of-the-way” house; this increases the tension by high lighting the
isolation of the characters within.
The setting of the cold and wet weather is in contrast to the cosy
small parlour, in which “the blinds were drawn and the fire burned
brightly”. The drawn blinds block out dark, wet outdoors and add a
dimension of protection to the setting, which is invaded by the
arrival of the monkey’s paw. This is similar to the old man in “The
Telltale Heart” using “close fastened” shutters to stop robbers coming
in to his room. The irony is that he became a vict...
... middle of paper ...
environment. The effect of light and darkness has been found to
increase tension by transforming every day objects into sinister
shadows. Hellish imagery is common in the gothic stories. Fire is
used to convey warnings of impending doom as in “The Monkey’s Paw” or
is used as an image of hellfire as in “The Cone”. The colour red also
has demonic associations; it is used to indicate a threat, to increase
the tension with its association with blood and to create a gloomy
atmosphere. The use of irony is another common feature used to
continue the suspense of gothic story, it also foreshadows disaster.
While it is possible to pick out key ways in which tension and
suspense is built up in the five stories analysed above, I found “The
Telltale Heart” the most enjoyable, perhaps because it used fewer
devices associated with this genre than the other stories.
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