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

Essay on 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

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 ..., 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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