A Comparison of The Signalman by Charles Dickens and The Red Room by H.G. Wells

A Comparison of The Signalman by Charles Dickens and The Red Room by H.G. Wells

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A Comparison of The Signalman by Charles Dickens and The Red Room by H.G. Wells

‘The Signalman’, Charles Dickens and ‘The Red Room’, H.G. Wells are
two gothic stories written in a nineteenth century style. In a century
when life seemed to be explaining itself by the means of science, the
notion of what we don’t know gives the story fear. The gothic style
was very popular in this era and gothic stories were read as popular
entertainment, the way gothic novels where written infringed fear into
the hearts of mid-nineteenth century citizens.

Charles Dickens narrator is an informal, well educated, high class
citizen who is up to date with technology and is well informed of its
presence in modern day life he seems however to be wrapped up in
technology as he is a traveller who moves from place to place, to try
to improve his knowledge. The language he uses to narrate is polished
and complex, ‘There was something remarkable in his manner of doing
so’. The difference between the narrators is extremely large, the
narrator in ‘The Red Room’ is young, educated pompous and upper class.
He seems unsure of everything around him; he denies all unnatural
happenings and passes them off as an event of chance. He will not
admit even by the end of the novel that he was wrong and that the
happenings in ‘The Red Room’ were abnormal in any form. The biggest
difference between the two narrators is the way in which they seem
aware of the happenings around them, the narrator from ‘The Red Room’
is totally un-aware of the happenings in his surroundings and anything
he does notice he passes off as a happening of chance or indeed thinks
nothing of it. The narrator in ‘The Signalman’ is well informed and
tries to find a reason through science; he tries to explain the
unexplainable.

‘The Signalman’ is set in a misty valley perhaps in rural Britain in a
Signalman’s box. The use of the similes and metaphors creates an image
in our minds, ‘a rough descending zigzag path notched out’.

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Perhaps
more stereotypically of a gothic novel ‘The Red Room’ is set in a
large mansion which strange elderly people inhabit, ‘the man with the
withered arm’?

The Plot in both novels are somewhat strange in essence however ‘The
Signalman’ makes more sense and has an eerie lingering cloud about it.
The start of the play the traveller crosses a railway bridge to see
below him a Signalman’s box, intrigued by this he decides to descend
to see the signalman and talk to him. This is where we learn of his
interest with technology and most of all his openness with the modern
world. As the story continues on the traveller gets to know the
signalman and the signalman tells the traveller of a déjà vu that he
has had, of a man calling out to him from the bridge and then from
inside the tunnel below the bridge. He tells him of a strange
happening with a ‘Supernatural’ being who has perhaps been killed by a
train or has resided in the signal box and died of a natural cause.
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