Creating and Use Fear, Suspense, and Tension in The Whole Town's Sleeping and A Terribly Strange Bed

Creating and Use Fear, Suspense, and Tension in The Whole Town's Sleeping and A Terribly Strange Bed

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Consider the ways in which Ray Bradbury and Wilkie Collins create and
use fear, suspense and tension in The Whole Town's Sleeping and A
Terribly Strange Bed.

Ray Bradbury and Wilkie Collins both wrote thrillers. Both writers use
similar techniques, though writing in two different eras. Both stories
are influenced by the social and historical contexts in which they are
written. Gambling was very popular in the 19th century so Wilkie
Collins decided to reflect on this topic in A Terribly Strange Bed.
Whereas, written in the 20th century A Whole Town's Sleeping has an
independent woman as a main character, equal opportunities for women
was a strong issue in the 20th century. The different centuries in
which these stories are written contribute to the historical and
cultural influences. In this paper I'm going to examine the ways in
which Bradbury and Collins contribute and create fear, suspense and
tension in their settings, plot, characters and language.

Bradbury and Collins use similar characters in both stories to create
tension. They both have a main character that is put in danger.
Bradbury's Lavinia Nebbs is a 'very straight and slim lady who is in
her thirties', she is very stubborn and pig headed. This description
of Lavinia's characteristics is very similar to the narrator in A
Terribly Strange Bed. Collin's narrator is also very independent and
headstrong. Both characters do not listen. Another characterization
technique shared by both authors is the 'voice of doom'. These
characters warn Lavinia and the narrator of impending danger. The
narrator's friend is persistent and continuously warns the narrator to
leave the gambling house. His warnings create tension and make you
wonder what's going to happen, it's like the friend is warning the
readers that something's wrong. Francine, Lavinia's friend, is
constantly pleading with Lavinia, and telling her to stay at her
house. Lavinia like the nameless narrator, doesn't want to listen,
this leads to the impression that she is in danger.

The contrasting attitudes between the characters affect the atmosphere
incredibly. Lavinia and Francine are two very different people.
Lavinia is very independent and dominant whereas, Francine is not as
independent and seems to be a follower. At all times she is pleading
for them to stay in and not go out, she had the chance to stay in, not
follow them and in return be safe and out of danger, but she felt she
had to follow the other two. In Francine following them this shows
that she is a weak character, maybe too weak for her own good. The way
the characters are so different makes the reader question, whether
Lavinia is a bad influence on Francine, maybe one day she will go a

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bit too far and put hers, Francine's and Helen's lives in danger.

The Narrator and His Friend mirror Lavinia and Francine, The Narrator
is overpowering and looking for a bit of fun, this makes him forget
about his welfare and safety.

Additional characters are also used to create and use fear, suspense
and tension in The Whole Town's Sleeping druggist creates fear when he
tells someone Lavinia's address, not knowing who the person is, also
knowing that The Lonely One Is about, this is really scary, he later
realizes he has done wrong and immediately regrets what he has done.
He deeply regrets his actions, when he hears the news about the death
of Eliza. The druggist does something against Lavinia, not
intentionally but he does do something that might lead to danger in
her life. In A Terribly Strange Bed some additional characters in the
story are the blackguards, who are described as, 'these men were
something worse', 'vulture eyes', and 'sunken eyes-fiercely watched',
Pg 58. The images created by Collins are scary and this increases the
readers fear. It gives the impression of bad and evil and this could
be due to the gambling. The soldier does something which leads to the
narrators life being jeopardized, he drugs his coffee knowing that he
has just had a big win in the gambling house, unlike the druggist the
soldier knows exactly what he is doing, he knows that the narrator has
had a big a win in the Gambling house. Someone carrying a large amount
of money around like the Narrator is bound to be in a lot of danger.
The soldier knew that if he were to persuade the Narrator in staying
the night, he would be in for a big win also. The descriptions of the
additional characters heighten the reader's awareness of danger. The
ways the characters are portrayed are backed by the settings.

Settings are an important device used by both Bradbury and Collins to
create fear and suspense. Bradbury uses the ravine as a dark, scary
unwanted place. The ravine is described as 'terrible dark' pg. 39.The
ravine has a old rickety bridge which could collapse very easily this
gives the impression that it is a unstable neglected place. The ravine
is a place where bad is expected to happen, this creates fear in the
reader. The description of the town also increases fear in the reader.
The town is small, isolated strange place. 'The streets were clean and
empty. Not a car, truck or person in sight'. This description would
make the reader wonder where everyone is, it is also said that, 'They
saw eyes peeping out at them from curtained windows' this makes the
reader question why these women where the only people out on the
street, it creates a sense of unease, it also brings the reader to the
conclusion that something is going to happen to the women. Both the
town and the ravine are lonely places that can be used to shadow the
lonely one.

Collins uses the contrast between two gambling houses to create fear.
Frascati's is a "respectable gambling-house"pg57. Whereas The Gambling
house is seen to be a Un respectable as a bad place, the Narrator says
'let us go somewhere where we can see a little genuine, blackguard,
poverty-stricken gaming.'Pg57. It's a place for people who are not
well off, for the "Poverty-stricken" pg57, to go, the people are
described as 'dirty, haggard long haired' pg.58.Its for the dirty
unwanted people. This straight away causes a sense of unease the
lonely unwanted people are going to this place. The room in A Terribly
Strange Bed is portrayed as a bit of safety for the narrator, he
barricades himself in and it seems safe. The fact that he has to
barricade himself inside, immediately insinuates that the narrator
knows something's wrong. The ways the settings are set contribute to
the fear.

A lot of suspense and tension is used in both A Terribly Strange Bed
and A Whole Town's Sleeping. Both writers use the same technique in
different ways they both use Characters, setting and plot to create
and sustain the use fear, tension and suspense. Technique is used well
in The Whole Town's Sleeping. This is emphasized when, a voice
murmurs, 'I am the lonely one. I kill people' Pg41. Also the voice
says' 'I'm Eliza Ramsell. Look. And I'm dead, see my tongue out my
mouth, see!"Pg41, this increases fear which is then quickly released
by the realization that it's children trying to scare them. The
technique in which Bradbury uses builds up tension quickly this leads
to the reader wondering what is going to happen.

In A Whole Town's Sleeping, Collins use of technique is not as
effective as Bradbury's. One time during the story when fear is not
used it is created, is when the narrators friend gives him
instructions on how to get home he says 'Send for a cabriolet when you
feel well draw up all windows when you get in, tell the driver to take
you home only through the large and well lighted thoroughfares'. The
way in which his friend describes the journey he should take, and the
safety precautions he should make, creates a sense of fear. The
opposite to safety is danger, the way his friend warns him, and takes
all kinds of precautious measures to get him home increases the fear
quickly. Released quickly by the realization that the Narrator arrives
safely in a coffee house, trying to sober up, or so we think so, until
the tension is then built up to by our realization, that the soldier
drugs the narrators' drink. This then quickly released by the
understanding that the narrator is offered a bed to sleep in that
night. The build up of tension is used a lot in both stories and is
overwhelmed by a quick release. The language used supports the way the
tension and fear is built.

Bradbury and Collins have different writing styles, which reflect on
the eras the have written in. Bradbury uses a lot of simple language
that is not hard to understand or relate to. Francine's pleadings not
to go out creates an extreme tense atmosphere, she is certain that
something unlawful is going to happen, she repeatedly asks for them
not to go, it came to a point that she says 'Maybe we shouldn't go to
the movie, The lonely one might follow us and kill.' Pg38. This shows
she is fearful; this great fear can pass through and be dominated by
the readers fear. Bradbury uses a lot of repetition in his writing
like when he is describing the town, "empty streets", "empty lots",
"empty lawns" the sound went". Pg49. Repetition of "empty" make us
realizes how the street was totally deserted and it wasn't safe for
Lavinia and Helen to be out on the street by themselves. Bradbury also
uses a lot of symbolism, he takes something that is lifeless and gives
it a sense of life. The contrasting number of people on the streets
compared to the number of people behind the windows, creates a lot of
tension so its like the women don't belong. ' There were a thousand
people in the windows, stiff and silent, and three people on the
street,'pg47. The people that were described in the window were not
real, they were the dummies, they were "stiff and silent" like they
were observing the outside world. Bradbury says, 'the hot wax dummies
stood. Their blank blue eyes watched as the ladies walked past them'
pg47. Dummies are lifeless objects. The dummies that Bradbury uses are
very effective, the dummies are representing safety, they are safe
behind the windows. The dummies are like a warning to the woman, a
warning that they need to get inside. It's like the dummies know that
it's not safe for the women to be out at night, walking the streets.
This translates great fear to the reader, the dummies are not real but
even they can sense fear, so it must be a huge mistake for the women
to be out alone.

Collins uses 19th century words that are not used in speech now in the
21st century. Collins uses symbolism in his story, he refers to "Guido
Fawkes", this is unnerving because Guy Fawkes (a.k.a. Guido Fawkes)
was a young man who tried to burn down the houses of parliament, was
trailed for treason and burnt at the stake. He died a terrible death,
this heightens the readers' awareness and brings them to conclusion
that maybe The Narrator was going to die a horrific death, this
increases tension dramatically.

I preferred A Whole Town's Sleeping to A Terribly Strange Bed. It was
structured better, the language was easier to understand, it was
generally, more interesting than A Terribly Strange Bed. The methods
in which Bradbury used the characters, plot and settings to create and
sustain fear, tension and suspense was increasingly effective a lot
more obvious than Collins uses of them.

Bradbury mirrored the stereotypical view of woman. His uses of
characters made them believable, realistic and also relatable. E.g.
Lavinia- headstrong woman that listens to nobody. Francine- the
fearful, innocent and sensible friend. . On the other hand, Collins
uses people that are unrealistic and non believable. The narrator-
Foreigner, who gambles with strangers, stays in an unknown destination
over night, on his lonesome.

To summaries Ray Bradbury's use of the plot, characters, setting and
language created and sustained immense fear, suspense and tension in A
Whole Town's Sleeping very effectively.

Collins uses of the plot, characters, setting and tension in A
Terribly strange Bed, although effective it wasn't as effective as A
Whole Town's Sleeping. and didn't really appeal to work as well as
that of the uses of Ray Bradbury.
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