Essay about Nineteenth Century Short Stories and the Gothic Genre

Essay about Nineteenth Century Short Stories and the Gothic Genre

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Nineteenth Century Short Stories and the Gothic Genre

The three short stories that I have chosen to compare and contrast
are: The Signalman by Charles Dickens, An Arrest by Ambrose Bearcy and
Napoleon and the Spectre by Charlotte Brontë. All these stories were
completed by the mid to late eighteenth hundreds.

The Signalman is set by a railway in Britain, along a lonely stretch
of a railway line in a steep cutting. An Arrest is set in America and
for the most part in a forest. Napoleon and the Spectre is set in
Paris.

Gothic genre was one of the leading and most used genres of the
nineteenth century and this genre is very prevalent in all three of
the stories that I have chosen. The gothic genre originated from South
America in the seventeenth century and the idea of it is to add
certain characteristics to the story that alienate and distinguish a
section of a story form the rest of the novel making it feel and sound
more eerie. Gothic novels tended to contain a supernatural element in
them. This probably due to the Victorian fascination with the
paranormal, as a reaction to the technological advances of the past
century, which had denied the existence of such a phenomenon. There
was growth of religious fervour at the time, which helped to admiss
the existence of ghosts and the like.

The very setting of The Signalman form the start gives the story an
eerie gothic feel to it with the signalman working and living in a
dark lonely place with the tunnel that is very close by adding to the
sense of mystery of the man and the place. The railway line is set in
a shallow gorge with 'dripping wet walls of jagged stone,' which gives
the sense that the jagged stone is evil and the dripping sense is
forbiddi...


... middle of paper ...


...find that no one enters behind
him, but there upon a table 'lay the dead body of Burton Duff.' This
suggests that the most hardened of criminals who has killed twice with
ease has been haunted by a murder he has committed.

The setting in which this novel is set makes for a scary story. This
is because of the use of language in the gothic style like: 'the
haunted man saw the visible embodiment of law,' this suggests a ghost
who is telling a man the right thing to do but the word 'haunted,'
makes the thing that should be done sinister in tone. The trees make
for an eerie setting because no one knows what could be hiding behind
the next one and so keeps the sense of mystery high and keeps it
forbidding. The setting of this novel can be likened to Napoleon and
the Spectre because of the dark setting and the ghost that enters and
haunts the main character.

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