Essay PreviewMore ↓
The story of ‘The Red Room’ by H.G. Wells is told to us in first
person. Suspense is created because of the story being in the first
person because the audience doesn't know any more information than the
narrator who is visiting the red room. The audience would have no idea
of what should happen next so they are not expecting the shocks of
surprises. This is also quite effective to us as it is told directly
to the reader. The opening sentence says ‘I can assure you’ said I,
‘that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me.’ And I stood
up before the fire with my glass in my hand. This suggests that the
main character is pretending that he does not believe in ghosts as he
said that it will take a real, concrete ghost to frighten him. It is
like he is trying to be witty about ghosts, in making out that he does
not believe in them. It mentioned that he was stood in front of the
fire which is beginning to set the scene to us. This is effective to
us as a fire is gloomy.
We are then introduced to the second person. The author wrote ‘It is
your own choosing’ said the man with the withered arm, and glanced at
me askance. The character is described as having a withered arm which
is grotesque. The man looked at the main character as if to ask him a
question so he replied ‘Eight and twenty years’ said I, ‘I have lived,
and never a ghost have I seen’ This is an indication of old language
as the structure of the sentence is very pre 20th century.
Now we are introduced to another character, an old woman. She is
described to us to be quite an odd person; it says ‘The old woman sat
staring hard into the fire, her pale eyes wide open.’ It is a strange
thing to do to be sat staring and we can already picture her pale
eyes. It continues to say ‘Ah’, she broke in: ‘and eight and twenty
you have lived and never seen the likes of this house, I reckon.
There’s a many things to see when ones still but eight and twenty. She
swayed her head slowly from side to side. ‘A many things to see and
sorrow for.’ This raises suspicion to us as it is like she knows
something but is not letting on to us what it is.
How to Cite this Page
"The Red Room, The Black Cottage, and Sikes and Nancy." 123HelpMe.com. 24 Feb 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Comparing the setting and atmosphere of Sikes and Nancy written by CHARLES DICKENS in 1869, The Black Cottage written by WILKIE COLLINS in 1859 and The Treasure In The Forest written by HERBERT GEORGE (HG) Wells in 1895. Three Victorian plays I am going to study the setting and atmosphere of three short stories written in the Victorian era, I will attempt to understand how the Victorian society was based on these texts. Sikes and Nancy written by CHARLES DICKENS in 1869, The Black Cottage written by WILKIE COLLINS in 1859 and The Treasure In The Forest written by HERBERT GEORGE (HG) Wells in 1895.... [tags: English Literature]
2404 words (6.9 pages)
- Red Tailed Black Cockatoo Abstract Calyptorhynchus banksii, or red-tailed black-cockatoo, has coped with extreme variations in its environment. Much like the plant species of Australia, the red-tailed black-cockatoo has evolved physiological and anatomical adaptations that have allowed it to survive in changing surroundings. One of the most prevalent adaptations was that seen in the beak apparatus. Changes in the beak allowed the cockatoos to consume the newly evolved sources of food. The metabolic requirements of the cockatoos and the availability of food are also forces that have influenced the beak apparatus and the distribution of red-tailed black-cockatoos throughout Australia.... [tags: Red Tailed Black Cockatoo]
2396 words (6.8 pages)
- In the history of United States, the red Indians and the Black peoples own a very unique and wondrous extent. They both suffered from a course of collective tragedy over nineteenth century. They have been misrepresented, stereotyped and simplified over time. Their stories cannot be simply condensed into one master narrative of defeat and decimation. To understand what really happened to them, we need to look at various historic pieces on the lives of many Indians, Blacks and Whites- that contributed to these multi-faceted stories.... [tags: Black people, Slavery in the United States]
1208 words (3.5 pages)
- 8 Ball Chicks by Gini Sikes The book "8 Ball Chicks," written by Gini Sikes is a thrilling yet shocking book about girls in gangs. The book explains in horrific detail the roles and existences of the girls in these gangs. Sikes traveled to several different cities to experience the life of girl gangsters. She traveled to Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Milwaukee. Through these travels, she became immersed in the lifestyles of each gang and had first hand accounts on what it was like to be in a gang.... [tags: Female Gang Gangster Sikes]
1959 words (5.6 pages)
- Gothic Horror in Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and H.G. Wells' The Red Room As with all things, the gothic horror genre of literature did not begin at one definable point, but evolved gradually. Gothic horror evolved out of gothic fiction (as opposed to classical fiction, for example the novels of Jane Austen), before establishing itself as a genre in its own right. However, many literary scholars and critics would point to "The Castle of Otranto", written by Horace Walpole and first published in 1764, as the first true gothic horror novel, containing as it does many of the clichs prevalent throughout the genre.... [tags: Wells Red Room Hill Woman Black Essays]
1983 words (5.7 pages)
- Red Drum populations along the east coast and gulf coast of the United States, have drastically diminished over the past thirty years. The cause of the drop in numbers of this beautiful fish is primarily due to the overfishing from both recreational and commercial fishermen. Federal and State governments have implemented measures in to prevent this fish from being targeted, and to make sure that the population numbers increase. Not only is this fish important for the fisheries in which they thrive, but they also contribute to the biodiversity of a number of different ecosystems.... [tags: Red Drum Populations]
2186 words (6.2 pages)
- Nothing happens. Four old structures stand stiffly in assembly, formatting a rectangular plane. All edges, the edges depicted by the symmetrical arrangement of these houses, glare inward in a staring contest that began a long time ago, quietly waiting for perpetuity’s abandonment. Two rims of the framework are losing, gently crumbling under the still, silent tension. A hollow is carved, a break in the divide between an organized vicinity and the untamed forest that would soon invade. In the tide of time’s delicate pull, nature prevails, swallowing everything in its enduring cycles.... [tags: Creative Writing Essays]
1181 words (3.4 pages)
- Compare the ways in which the authors of The Red Room, The Black Cottage and The Signalman create fear, suspense and tension. GCSE PROSE STUDY COURSEWORK: Compare the ways in which the authors of "The Red Room", "The Black Cottage" and "The Signalman" create fear, suspense and tension. In this essay i will be analysing the way three accomplished authors create an atmosphere of tension, fear and suspense in their three short stories. Once i had read their stories i instantly noticed how comparable the stories were.... [tags: English Literature]
1807 words (5.2 pages)
- Have you ever been fishing before. Not fishing based on lucky casts with worms or a bobber but fishing based on knowledge of what the fish do under the waves. I’ve been interested in fishing since the beginning of my time here on earth. Fish fascinate me, and catching them on rod and reel excites my inner primal being. I chose this topic to get into the mind of the fish I aim to catch. I already know much about my quarry. I know that Red Drum come in from the ocean to spawn in salt water back bays.... [tags: essays research papers fc]
2190 words (6.3 pages)
- ... She remembered his life, his work, his strong hands, his care, his love, and the sacrifices he made to lift others from the shadow of the grave. He had failed and been hung for it, but he had done his best and she had few regrets. She knew that she was not the only one to lose those she loved best. She was a bright light in a dark time, having preserved her cheerful nature through the shadowy and painful paths of her life. Her surviving daughters had good marriages, that is, as good as could be in their circumstances.... [tags: personal narrative]
1725 words (4.9 pages)
to say that he has never seen the kind of things that she has seen
inside the house. She is described to be swaying her head slowly from
side to side. This is a weird thing to do. Again, her character is put
across to be very odd.
Both of the old people that have been introduced to us so far are
unlikely characters, which add to the suspense of the story. The
characters are used as devices to build up tension. The main character
is acting like he is not scared of ghosts, but the old people are
weary of this and are making it out to him that he should be scared,
by dropping little hints like ‘it is your own choosing’ and ‘There’s a
many things to see when ones still eight and twenty’.
The young man told the old people ‘if I see anything tonight I shall
be so much the wiser. For I come to the business with an open mind.’
It is like he is humouring the old people, yet trying to keep up his
brave attitude towards ghosts. The man with the withered arm repeated
again ‘It’s your own choosing.’ It is effective that the author has
referred to the old man as ‘the man with the withered arm’. It adds to
the tension that he has no name.
To add to the tension, a second old man enters. H G Wells uses short
clauses to show that he is panicking in his thoughts. Example- 'The
door creaked, on its hinges, as a second old man entered, more bent,
more wrinkled, more aged, even that the first'. H G Wells writes these
small phases deliberately so that as the readers are reading the story
in their minds can go though the action quickly. It goes on to say ‘His
eyes were covered by a shade, and his lower lip, half averted, hung
pale and pink from his decaying yellow teeth.’ He is made out to be
grotesque and scary. The author began to refer to the second man as
‘the man with the shade’ here again, not giving him a name.
The author wrote ‘the man with the withered arm gave this newcomer a
short glance of positive dislike; the old woman took no notice of his
arrival, but remained with her eyes fixed steadily on the fire.’ This
shows that the three old people don’t like each other, their ignorance
proves that. This adds to the tension.
The man with the withered arm again repeated ‘I said- it’s your own
choosing’ This time, like he wanted the young man to reply. As the
young man replied ‘it is my own choosing’ the author wrote ‘The man
with the shade became aware of my presence for the first time, and
threw his head back for a moment and sideways, to see me. I caught a
glimpse of his eyes, small and bright and inflamed’. He did not get a
full view of the man. This raises suspense as to why the old man was
kept in the dark and why his identity is not revealed.
The young man finds the old people who look after the castle,
frightening and depressing. We know this because he refers to them as
'grotesque custodians'. The word 'grotesque' suggests something that
is disgusting and horrible. Possibly he could be referring to them in
this way because he feels awkward with them.
The young man wanted to prove to these old people that he was not
afraid so he said to them ‘If you will show me to this haunted room of
yours, I will make myself comfortable there.’ At this, the old people
ignored him, yet the old man with the shade acknowledged him as he ‘jerked
his head back’. Was it that they did not hear him or that they chose
to ignore what he was saying? The young man repeated himself, but a
little louder this time. The old people were not willing to show him
to the room. This arouses suspicion as to what is in the room and why
they are so unwilling to go there as it said- ‘If you go to the red
room tonight-’ (‘this night of all nights’ said the old woman.) ‘You
go alone’. The reader is left asking questions at this point. We are
still unaware of why ‘this night of all nights’ is different to any
other night. This keeps the readers interest because you want to find
The young man then asked for directions to the room. The man with the
shade seemed unsure about whether he should go to the room as he asked
‘And are you really going?’. It is as if they were trying to put him
off the idea of going to the room as the old woman repeated ‘This
night of all nights?’. This may be because they are too scared to go
anywhere near the room themselves, because know what is there. This
also gives HG Wells the opportunity to develop the journey to the Red
Room, and he can go on describing other happenings along the way.
As the man moves towards the door H.G Wells describes the man with the
shade, moving closer to the others. Maybe there is something
horrifying in this house if three people who seemingly hate each other
are cowering together in front of a fire, or maybe they were plotting
As the young man walked down the corridor, HG Wells describes the
atmosphere to us. This 'chilly, echoing passage' is common in a ghost
story for it is dark, damp, cold and dusty. It is dimly lit, any sound
can be heard and any movement made casts 'monstrous' shadows onto the
surrounding walls. When walking through the passage you would probably
not be able to see to the other end, which means that anything could
be lurking there. The passage has a great effect on both the reader
and the young man. It creates fear and suspense and is a good tension
builder. The young man thought about the oddness of the three old
pensioners. HG Wells then goes on to describe the furniture. He used
words to build up the atmosphere like ‘spiritual, witches, ghostly,
omens, and haunted’ to describe the surroundings. It shows a slight
fear in the young man when all the rest of the time, he has been
acting so calm.
As he carries on down the passage it comments on the surroundings;
example- 'The ornaments and conveniences of the room about them were
ghostly,' this builds up more tension as we get closer to the
'haunted' room. He then comes to a ‘spiral staircase’. Spiral
staircases are spooky. As he proceeds up the spiral staircase to The
Red Room. His imagination continues still to race with him himself
doubting what he hears and sees when he claims 'a shadow came sweeping
up after me’ and ‘I came to the landing and stopped there for a
moment, listening to a rustling I fancied I heard’ This line shows
that he is hearing things in his head as a result of tension created
through his surroundings. You can tell at this point that the man is
A good piece of imagery sets atmosphere. An example in this section
is, 'the moonlight coming in by the great window on the grand
staircase picked out everything in vivid black shadow or silvery
illumination.' This gives you a clear mental image. It comes across as
ghostly, which is how the story is meant to be. As the narrator is
walking he sees shadows and ornaments, which make him more on edge. He
sees a group of statues in a corner and he gripped his revolver. The
fact that he had a revolver with him shows that he is not as calm as
he first seemed.
Then as he approaches the door to the red room, the tension builds and
he enters very quickly closing the door behind him. He finds himself
in a huge red walled room. The fact that he locked the door behind him
in the room shows that he is nervous, like he was aware of a presence
following him. It is only at this point in the story that we are told
about the mystery of the red room as we are told it is ‘The great red
room of Lorraine Castle, in which the young duke had died’ The
question is raised as to whether he just fell down the stairs or was
he pushed? We are informed that there are ‘other stories that clung to
the room’. Could it be that the past people that died in the room
stayed there to haunt it? The young man was having doubts about this.
HG Wells describes the darkness as ‘germinating darkness’. Here, he is
using metaphors by associating darkness with a plant as it ‘sprouted
in its black corners’, almost like the darkness is growing.
He described his candle as ‘a little tongue of light in its vastness,
that failed to pierce the opposite end of the room and left an ocean
of mystery and suggestion beyond its island of light’ once again the
author is trying to create a spooky atmosphere. He exploits
characterization to show fear. Wells is starting to create mystery in
the room by making the young man speak of the room being like an
'ocean of mystery' and beyond his 'circle of light' lays suggestion.
The author then lit a fire and re-arranged the room to his
satisfaction, yet there was ‘a shadow in the alcove at the end in
particular had that undefinable quality of a presence, that odd
suggestion of a lurking, living thing, that comes so easily in silence
and solitude.’ Here, suspense is raised again. He felt the need to
‘reassure himself’ so he walked over to the alcove to find that there
was ‘nothing tangible there’. Here he refers back to the first line
about tangible ghosts.
More tension is built as the man begins to talk to himself. He listens
to the eerie echoes and becomes more frightened than before. In the
Red Room the tension is building all the time, the man is getting more
nervous and putting more candles out to try to reassure himself. The
man is getting more anxious and jokes about how he should warn any
ghost about tripping aver a candle on the floor.
Light is describes as being a great comfort. The candle in the alcove
went out as the clock reached midnight. It is here that panic sets in,
when the narrator reacts badly to the candles being extinguished.
Again, there is the use of light and dark. It is written ‘I did not
see the candle go out, I simply turned and saw that the darkness was
there as one might see the unexpected presence of a stranger’.
Personification is used in this story to give the reader the
impression that the narrator is not alone in the Red Room although he
thinks he is. He does not notice that the candles had gone out he
'simply turned and saw that darkness was there', almost as if darkness
was someone who had come silently into the room. Here he is referring
to the darkness as a person which raises suspicion as to whether the
shadows in the room are alive or not. He continues to talk aloud, just
to reassure himself.
As he re-lights the candle, two more candles went out behind him. He
compared this to ‘Something blinking on the wall before him.’ It
suggests to us that there is a presence in the room with him as he
describes the objects with human actions like ‘blink’ and ‘wink’. The
tension is being built up by making us think that there is some-one
else there with him. All around the room, the candles continue to go
out. The author is still trying to keep calm and continues to talk
aloud humoring what is going on, saying things to the darkness like ‘What’s
up?’ and ‘Steady on! These candles are wanted!’
Meanwhile the darkness was beginning to creep up on him. The candles
are passively being put out like the darkness is active.
The ending of the story is a slight twist. You would expect a more
conventional ghost but what is found in the room is fear itself.
However, it is suspected from the very start that there is going to be
something in the room. Just from the first sentence there is an
immediate cause for concern. Throughout the story, suspense has been
built up well. I think that the ending worked well, as it was fear of
the darkness that drove him to fall down the stairs. He went into the
room as a confident man, but with spending time in there, fear took
hold of him. He began to run about frantically trying to get out of
the room banging into things, and then he fell down the stairs, just
like the duke once did. Maybe it was his own continence that drove him
to fall. It seems to me like if you know the legend of the red room,
you take fear in but otherwise, you wont be scared.
In the end, the old people don’t seem strange or weird anymore. It’s
like daylight changes things. He said ‘I opened my eyes in daylight’.
Daylight is used as a form of safety in the story. It was the darkness
that drove him mad and made things seem worse than they actually were.
HG Wells began the story by building up the tension using the old
people as a device. He has ended the story by informing us that they
were normal people after all and that it was the darkness that made
them seem scary in the first place. He has used the contrast between
light and dark to create tension and suspense. I think that this
technique worked very well and was effective in the story.
My next story is The black cottage by Wilkie Collins. The black
cottage used some of the same techniques to build up the suspense in
the story. In the beginning, The author addresses the reader. We are
introduced to the story with ‘I must take you back to the time after
my mothers death, when my only brother had gone to sea, when my sister
was out at service and when I lived alone with my father, in the midst
of a moor in the west of England.’ She is giving us a basic outline of
how things were. By being told directly, we want to read on as we are
being requested to listen to what she has to say.
The story continues to describe the house they lived in, and its
surroundings. The author seems to go into great detail on how the
cottage is situated alone, as it is quoted ‘The nearest habitation to
ours was situated about a mile and a half off’. We are told about the
security of the house. This information makes the reader ask ‘why’ the
author has gone into such detail on the house alone as an introduction
to the story.
Creating the right place for the setting of a story is usually one of
the most important features in creating a successful story. The
setting can influence the reader's emotions and views on the story and
also create an atmosphere for the storyline ahead. This is very
important in spooky or chilling stories like "The red room" and "the
black cottage" as the setting usually gives the reader a sense of
foreboding. This is true in both stories with one being set in an old,
haunted castle and the other being set in a lonely cottage being cut
off from the outside world.
We are told that the young girl ‘Bessie’ will be left alone the black
cottage as her father had to go away due to his work. The fact that a
young girl was left alone in a cottage in the middle of no-where is
the perfect opportunity for something to happen whilst her father is
The story is made interesting when Bessie is trusted to look after
some money that her land-owners left her with as a result of them
having ‘Money matters’. So now, she was alone, in a dingy cottage with
valuable belongings, this is just a recipe for something to happen and
when your reading the story you can definitely feel something coming
At this point, the reader is not sure of what is about to happen.
Bessie was unsure about looking after the pocket book full of money as
it says ‘The very sight of the pocket book behind the glass door of
the bookcase began to worry me’. It continues to say ‘I puzzled my
brains about finding a place to lock it up in, where it would not be
exposed to the view of any chance passer-by , who might stray into the
black cottage’. By raising this issue, the reader automatically thinks
that the pocket book will come into the story. Almost immediately
after, two men strayed into the kitchen.
It mentions that one of the men may have been looking at the bookcase…
‘I distrusted him, and I managed to get between his leering eyes and
the bookcase’; this suggests that the man may have clocked onto the
pocket book behind the glass door.
Bessie's vulnerability is exposed to the villains almost immediately,
as she stupidly told the intruders that she was on her own and that
her father was away on business. We immediately think that the men are
up to something because it says ‘Shifty dick and his companion looked
at each other when I unwisely let out the truth’. By describing that
as to unwisely let out the truth, it is giving us the impression that
she should not have said that, and that the men may take advantage of
the fact that she is alone.
After the men leave, tension is built up by the bad weather, a feature
of Gothic Literature. The darkness and the 'rising mist' helps to
build up an ominous atmosphere, and the 'heavy rain' support this
idea. Bessie's anxiety is also brought out in the sentence structure
because hyphens force the reader to pause, creating an anxious break,
for example; 'but there was a vague distrust troubling me-a suspicion
of the night-a dislike at being left by myself’.
Although this section shows Bessie's vulnerability, it also shows her
bravery, and shows that she cannot be fooled by the men's
manipulation. It is also ironic how Bessie is struggling to cope with
the fear caused by two men and the weather with its 'fitful sobbing of
the wind', but her cat 'basked luxuriously' on the hearth of the fire.
This slight bit of humor added in to it breaks the tension for a
moment, and gives the reader a pleasant thought, possibly in
preparation for the upcoming drama of what is about to happen next. It
was only when Bessie settled down and the atmosphere was calm to the
reader that the tension was raised again as she was awaked with ‘a
loud bang at the front door’. It is odd that a cottage in the middle
of nowhere would have a visitor in the night which arouses suspicion.
Bessie’s instant reaction to this is fear. Here, Collins uses colons
and commas to break the sentence up to make it sharp and fast,
example- ‘I started up, breathless and cold; waiting in the silence, I
hardly knew for what; doubtful, at first, whether I had dreamed about
the bang at the door, or whether the blow had really been struck on
it.’ By using this sort of punctuation, it helps to raise tension as
the reader is obliged to pause.
It was the two men that had dropped by earlier at the door. The
characters of the men clash. Shifty dick was more demanding, whereas
Jerry was a cunning kind of man. The characters here are overwhelming
to the reader and Bessie, Jerry singing at his 'wicked work' and
Shifty Dick swearing. They are both physically and mentally
intimidating. In contrast to the villains, Bessie is mentally
determined, but the fight against them is described as physically
demanding to heighten the suspense.
The atmosphere between when Bessie was relaxing in front of the fire
giving the reader a sense of calm, clashes in comparison to the sudden
tension raised by ‘the loud bang on the door’ from the two men.
Jerry’s character in the story was cunning and clever. His attempt to
get Bessie to let them into the black cottage was sly, as he put on a
false tone of voice. I can imagine that Bessie would have felt quite
intimidated by him. Jerry said things like- ‘You are alone in the
house my pretty little dear. You may crack your sweet voice with
screeching, and there is no body near to hear you.’. This patronizing
false niceness clashes in comparison to Shifty Dick who is more direct
and violent. Bessie refused to let the men in but they were persistent
and refused to go away. Suspense is built up here as we are left
wondering what they are going to do next. We are told that the men
were there because they want ‘the very neat looking pocket book’ and
her ‘mother’s four silver teaspoons.’ It is clear that they had
clocked these valuables when they had paid a visit to the black
cottage earlier that day.
As the story is written in first person (as it is also written in the
red room) we can experience first hand on how Bessie is feeling and we
almost begin to feel sorry for her.
The atmosphere changed when Bessie’s attitude towards the men changed.
She comes across to be a strong character as she claimed ‘The threats
of the two villains would have scared some women out of their senses,
but the only result produced on me was violent indignation’- this
proves to us that Bessie is determined to put up a fight. She does not
want to give into the threats and hand over the valuables trusted to
her. She cursed at the men saying things like ‘you cowardly villains’
and ‘you ragamuffin thieves, I defy you both!’. Her over exaggerated
anger towards the men begins to build up more tension for the reader.
We are told that there was a ‘dead silence for a minute of two’ before
the men attacked the door. In that silence, Bessie will have been
nervous and filled with anxiety over what the men were going to do
next. As the men attacked the door, Bessie ‘seized a poker’ as a
weapon of self defense. She then lighted all the candles she could
find: for she felt she could keep her courage up better if she had
plenty of light. Like ‘the red room’, light is used as a form of
The ‘poor pussy’ is used in the story, as a device to build a
different kind of atmosphere in the black cottage. It was described as
being ‘crouched up, panic stricken, in a corner.’ Again, this mood
clashes with the shouting and violence going on at the same time. The
author took time to refer back to the cat to show variety in the
Bessie put her mothers ‘four silver spoons’ and Mr. and Mrs.,
Knifton’s ‘unlucky book with the bank notes’ into her dress to protect
them. By referring to the pocket book as unlucky, it is suggesting
that it was the pocket book that brought all this bad luck to the
black cottage in the first place.
Bessie was doing her best to protect the cottage. She fought her best
against all the attempts the men made to enter the black cottage, but
as yet another silence occurred; it was only then that Bessie began to
get nervous. Wilkie Collins has used rhetorical questions in the
story. These are effective for building up suspense as the reader is
not informed on what is going to happen next, but instead, is left
asking questions; example- ‘I listened eagerly and caught these words:
“lets try the other way.” Nothing more was said, but I heard footsteps
retreating from the door. Were they going to besiege the back door
Suspense is raised here when Bessie does hear ‘their voices at the
other side of the house.’ My automatic reaction to when I read this
was that Bessie had no chance of fighting these men off, but we are
reassured again as she re-gained her confidence. This is shown in the
story as we are told again about the security and strength of the
cottage- E.g. ‘The back door was smaller than the front; but it had
this advantage in the way of strength’ and ‘they must have the whole
cottage down before they can break in at that door’.
The mood in the story changed as Bessie went into the kitchen and
drank a drop of rum. She quoted- ‘Never before have I put anything
down my throat that did me half so much good as that precious mouthful
of rum.’ At this moment, the mood is calm again. The author does this
to make the mood more effective when tension is raised again.
Wilkie Collins effectively uses rhetorical questions again to show
Bessie's thoughts and belief in herself. Jerry and Shifty Dick decided
to attack from the roof next. Instant tension is raised as a voice
from the roof shouted ‘Let us in you she devil’ and then another shout
‘let us in or we’ll burn the place down over your head’. This makes
the reader think again that Bessie has been defeated as they started 2
throw stones down the chimney causing live embers to scatter all over
the room; but she keeps surprising us with new ideas. Bessie
miraculously remembered that there was a large can of water in her
bedroom. She then put the fire out so that no more damage could be
done. Again, the tension is then calm and we are left feeling puzzled
as to what we are going to be surprised with next.
The stones had stopped being thrown down the chimney but just as we
begin to feel calm again, more tension is raised as the men began to
cut through the roof with a knife. The author used the knife as a
device to build up more tension. This is done by the way Wilkie
Collins describes the knife and the way it was used- example: ‘slowly
and wickedly the knife wriggled its way through the dry inside thatch
between the rafters’. The choice of text used to describe the knife
gives the wicked impression that Shifty dick himself gives to the
reader. We also get the impression that Bessie is in real danger from
the knife as it says ‘The murderous hand was still tapping with the
knife’. By saying that the hand is murderous, it is saying that Shifty
Dick could be dangerous with the knife. As the tension is raised
again, we are reassured that the men were not able to get in through
the roof as is was sturdy and strong, and that the rafters were stable
and ‘nothing lighter than a hatchet would have sufficed to remove any
part of them’. All these attempts to get in to the house remind me of
the story of ‘the three little pigs’. So far in the story, the black
cottage compares to the sturdy brick house that the third little pig
had built. Despite all attempts, the big bad wolf (hence- Shifty Dick
and Jerry) was not able to get into the house.
Bessie has kept up a strong character making the reader almost forget
that she is just a young woman. This changes towards the end of the
story. The cowardly villains had another plan that Bessie could not
fight against. They had found some beams of wood in the garden shed.
It is at this point in the story where the suspense is at its peak.
Bessie thought intensively about what was in the shed that could be
any use to the two men. During this moment of thinking, she heard them
‘dragging something out the shed’. At that moment, it dawned on her.
The author wrote ‘at that same instance when the noise caught my ear,
the remembrance flashed across me like lightening of some beams of
wood which had lain in the shed for years past.’ We are left wondering
what the men are going to do with the wood and if Bessie will be able
to defend herself this time.
It was only when the men started to ram against the front door that
Bessie accepted she could not protect the house any longer as it is
written- ‘‘I can do more than keep the house against them,’ I said to
myself with the tears at last beginning to wet my cheeks. I trust to
the light and the thick darkness, and save my life by running for it,
while there is yet time’. At this point in the story, we now feel
sorry for the young woman. By reminding us that she is feminine, this
gives the reader more sympathy towards her.
As the door came down, Bessie ‘fled out into the night’. She made it
to the farmhouse so be greeted by the farmer’s eldest son. Just as we
think that the story has come to an end, it takes other unexpected
twists. The additional information at the end is a bit like a ‘and she
lived happily ever after scenario’. Wilkie Collins had a different
technique in comparison to ‘The Red Room’ in creating suspense.
Throughout the story of ‘The Black Cottage’, the author would build up
suspense, and then take the tension off what suspense was built up by
Bessie’s positive and determined attitude towards situation. By doing
this, The ending was more effective as eventually, Bessie could not
defend the cottage and the suspense continued to grow.
Charles Dickens novel ‘Sikes and Nancy’ is another example of how a
Victorian story creates good tension and suspense.
In the passage where Bill attacks Nancy, there is a strong atmosphere
built up. There is lots of dialogue in the passage. We can tell
immediately that something is wrong, because of the punctuation used
in the speech at the beginning. Bill shouted at Nancy to ‘Get up!!!’
Immediately, this shows urgency as the exclamation marks symbolize
raised voices and shouting.
Unlike ‘The red room’ and ‘The black cottage’, which gradually build
the tension up for the reader; ‘Sikes and Nancy’ already have that
tension from the beginning of the text.
Dickens set the atmosphere and scene. Like the other authors, he
included a ‘candle burning’. A candle is very pre 20th century and is
typical to Victorian times.
In the text, Nancy goes to ‘undraw the curtain’ as Bill had hurled the
candle under the grate. This shows the reader that he is quite
violent. Bill then told Nancy to ‘let it be, there’s enough light for
what I’ve got to do.’ Immediately, more tension is raised as the
reader is wondering what he is going to do.
Nancy said ‘Bill, why do you look at me like that?’. He was described
to be looking at her with ‘dilated nostrils and heaving breast’. We
can now tell that he is angry at Nancy as he began to act violent
towards her- example- he ‘Grasped her by the head and throat, dragged
her into the middle of the room, and placed his heavy hand upon her
mouth.’ There is a very strong use of emotive language here to
describe the extent of his anger. He also produced his anger in words
by calling her a ‘she devil’ and told her that ‘every word you said
was heard’. We are now left wondering what she had said.
In a contrast to Bill’s anger, Nancy pleaded with him. She was very
OTT and sentimental in what she said to him as she pleaded for her
life saying things like ‘stop before you spill my blood!!! I have been
true to you, upon my guilty soul I have!!!’. This showed Nancy’s
desperate attempt to plead Bill to spare her life.
Bill grabbed the gun and ‘beat it twice across the upturned face that
almost touched his own’. This action creates more tension between the
man and the woman. Nancy fell to the ground saying one last prayer ‘for
mercy to her maker’ and those were her last words before bill ‘seized
a heavy club, and struck her down!!!’. In this passage, Violent Bill
clashed with Nancy’s innocence. Dickens added a lot of direct speech
and action to build up tension and suspense in the passage.