Creating Tension throughout Red Room by Nicci French

Creating Tension throughout Red Room by Nicci French

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Creating Tension throughout Red Room by Nicci French

This gothic story is about an arrogant man who has heard of the “Red
Room” and believes he is above the caretakers. He makes his way
through the house, commenting on his surroundings.

When he arrives at the room he is less confident than he was before.
He sits waiting with his revolver at the ready, expecting something
solid to attack him. When the candles start to extinguish, he is
suddenly unnerved. He panics and falls unconscious and awakes to find
himself in the presence of the caretakers with several injuries.

A gothic story is a type of romantic fiction that predominated in
English Literature in the 1800’s, the setting for which usually a
ruined gothic castle or abbey. The gothic novel, or romance,
emphasized mystery and horror and was filled with ghost-haunted rooms,
underground passages and secret stairways.

The “Red Room” conforms to the gothic genre because it is about an
ancient castle under the ruling of some elderly people who are
terrified and have not yet visited the “Red Room”

In this particular story the narrator seems to speak with an air of

“‘I can assure you,” said I, “that it will take a very tangible ghost
to frighten me’”.

He believes he is above the caretakers and is sneering at them.

“‘And I stood up before the fire with my glass in my hand’”

The narrator feels the elderly are beneath him and speaks
condescendingly to them. There is tension between the narrator and the

“If I see anything tonight I will be so much the wiser”

He is unbelieving of the caretaker’s theory of a ghost’s presence and
does not care to show them kindness.

The narrator is scathing towards the caretakers and refers to them

“More bent, more wrinkled”

It shows his lack of respect towards the caretakers and that he sees
them as hideous monsters.

The narrator is assertive and speaks to the caretakers with
pomposity, “it is my owns choosing,”

The elderly caretakers are hostile to one another from the beginning
of the story, such words as “positive dislike” and “took no notice of
his arrival” suggest this. The narrator is distant with the caretakers
and is unfavorable, “wrinkled”, “bent” and “withered” illustrates
this. The narrator sees the custodians as monsters showing them little
respect. When the narrator tries to ask for directions to the room he
is ignored many times by the elderly; this implies that there is
tension between the custodians and the narrator.

As he begins his journey he becomes startled and paranoid along with
the feeling of fear towards the house “I stood rigid for half a minute

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perhaps. Then with my hand in the pocket that held my revolver, I

He is very suspicious and cautious; he suddenly is afraid and grave.

“a sudden twinge of apprehension. I glanced over my shoulder at the
Ganymede in the moonlight, and opened the door to the red room rather
hastily, with my face turned to the pallid silence of the landing.”

This shows that since he left the caretakers his confidence has waned
and he fears Lorraine Castle.

Once the narrator enters the room he begins to survey the room,
walking about and surrounding himself in darkness “closing the
shutters”. He lights candles and places them all around the room;
showing he is insecure about being in the darkness alone. Throughout
the scene, when the narrator was in the room, Wells repeats the words
“darkness” and “shadows” to emphasize the power of the room itself. He
is comforted by the presence of his revolver, even though it is
useless in the situation. The narrator sits back and waits nervously,
and this shows through his choice of language:

“I was in a state of considerable nervous tension”.

This emphasizes the power of the “Red room”.

He is soon waiting for the room to come alive, “a helpful sense of the
passage of time”. Soon he is having to reassure himself by speaking o
himself ““By done!” said I aloud”. This proves he is frightened as do
the words “stranger” and “a queer high note getting in my voice”.

As all the candles begin to go out we are beginning to see a change in
his reactions, his once calm and rather arrogant nature has now become
nervous and frightened. He is panicking now and it is as though the
darkness is a violent enemy thus Wells’ use of syntax becomes longer
and more complex to reflect the actions of a man in sheer panic.

He wakes up the next day disorientated and in the company of the
custodians, suddenly the attitude between them changes; they show
compassion towards each other.

“He spoke no longer as one who greets an intruder, but as one who
grieves a friend.”

The caretakers question what haunts the red room, but are astounded
when he gives his answer. It is no ghost that lurks in the shadows of
the “Red room” but something created in the human mind. “Fear!” Wells
personifies “fear!” and makes it sound like a wild beast to frighten
the reader and stress the power that the mind has over our actions.

I am left with a feeling of wonder and nervousness at the end of this
tale because I can picture the room in my mind and feel the darkness
that clings to the room. I do believe Wells has been successful in
creating the tension we expect from a gothic story because he leaves
the reader questioning constantly, making us want to know more. He
also got the setting perfect because most gothic novels are set in
run-down castles.

I think this is a successful ghost story because of his use of
language “shadowy” and “darkness” and how he repeats It to emphasize
his meaning.
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