An essay to compare the two protagonists The Signalman and The Foghorn

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Firstly, The Signalman appears wary but well-educated who has thrown his life away. This may well be why he is stuck in a little booth by himself controlling trains. This setting is very simple. The setting is simple because The Signalman has his own small room, which is described like a dungeon. The quotations “A crooked prolongation of this great dungeon” and “a solitary and dismal a place as ever I saw” show this. He is alone in the booth with his thoughts and only a passing train for company. It is in this setting where he meets his apparitions.

When The Signalman sees the ghost he appears scared, “his eyes prominent and strained”. The quotation “shows a latent fear” suggest this. Short sentences, “what’s wrong”, “what’s happened”, “where”. These short sentences try to create a feeling of fear. This builds up suspense for the reader. The Signalman is faced with a difficult decision when he sees the third apparition because if he told someone about the ghost they may think he’s mad, but if he keeps it to himself without his warnings people’s lives may be in danger. He is a conscientious person “with a feverish distress” not knowing how to deal with this apparition.

We know this because The Signalman’s narrator says, “In the discharge of his duties, I observed him to be remarkably exact and vigilant, in a word I should have set this man down as one of the safest of men to be employed in that capacity”. This shows The Signalman to be conscientious. I will now look at the setting for Mcdunn and I will try to compare the two characters together. Mcdunn’s setting is also a lonely one. He is in a tower alone looking after ships not trains. Mcdunn does not appear to be scared of the sea monster he appears to admire it.

This is shown by the quotations, “it swam slowly and with a great dark majesty” and “the head rose a full forty feet above the water on a slender beautiful dark neck”. Mcdunn seems to relate to the sea monster, as they are both loners. A quotation to show this is “maybe it’s the last of its kind”. Mcdunn relates to the sea monster “all alone in a world not made for you”. They both appear to be living their lives alone. Mcdunn has a similar decision to make as The Signalman. He has to decide whether or not to tell any one about his sighting. If he tells someone they may try to catch the sea monster and Mcdunn doesn’t want this to happen.

The Signalman has a similar problem because if he tells someone about his sighting people will think he’s gone mad. The two protagonists have a choice to keep quiet about their secret or to tell someone about their sighting. After writing about the setting of the two characters I find there are similarities with each having their own secrets and questioning how to deal with the problem they’re faced with. In this section I find that The Signalman and Mcdunn are very similar- both in the lonely setting and in the respect that they each have a problem to deal with.

In the next part of my essay I will try to find other similarities. I will now look at the educational background of the two characters to see how they compare. I think the two characters have very different educational backgrounds. I feel that The Signalman is well educated. For example, he learned fractions and decimals and a language and tried a little algebra. The quotation to show this is “a student of natural philosophy and had attended lectures but misused his opportunities gone down and never risen again” Although he was clever he admits he had “run wild, misused his opportunities”.

I will now look at Mcdunn’s educational background and see how it compares to The Signalman’s. Although Mcdunn speaks in non-standard English, as shown in the quotation, ” sounds like an animal don’t it? ” His poetic language suggests intelligence. It is not an intelligence that is gained by an education in the classroom but a poetic education from his surroundings and isolation. This can be shown by the quotation, “You know, the oceans the biggest damned snowflake ever? It rolls and swells a thousands shapes and colours, no two alike”.

He also says about the tower “the God-like flashing out of it”. After writing about both protagonists’ education I think that even though Mcdunn uses Non-Standard English he knows more than it would appear. Therefore he is not that different from The Signalman. I will now look at the two protagonists’ jobs and I will compare them at the end of my review. The Signalman has a very responsible job. He takes his job very seriously, “one of the safest of men to be employed in that capacity”. I think that The Signalman knows when the ghost does some hand signals there is going to be some sort of danger.

As well as looking after the trains The Signalman has to look out for other peoples lives and his own safety. The quotation to show this is “remarkable, exact and vigilant” Exactly what The Signalman has to be. I will now look at the job of Mcdunn and I will see how his job compares to The Signalman’s. I think that Mcdunn’s job is very similar to The Signalman’s as they both protect and look after other people’s lives. Even the settings have their similarities as they work alone looking out for dangers. Mcdunn also takes his job very seriously.

Mcdunn and his narrator are the only people who know about the sea monster. If Mcdunn told somebody they might try to catch the monster and it might kill somebody so Mcdunn has to stop people from getting harmed. “Come on. I got something special I been saving up to tell you”. This shows that after three months Mcdunn is about to tell his narrator about the sea monster. “So I better prepare you”. After writing about Mcdunn and The Signalman and their jobs I have concluded that Mcdunn and The Signalman are very similar. The similarities are in the jobs they do. They both protect the lives of others.

This shows that both The Signalman and Mcdunn lived similar lives in a lonely setting. I will now look at the two character’s philosophy on life. I feel that The Signalman’s view on life is “he lives in the present” meaning he does not believe on dwelling on past mistakes. The quotation “He made his bed and lies upon it” shows that The Signalman accepts the mistakes he has made and he is suffering the consequences. I think The Signalman is suffering worry and stress relating back to his job and events that have happened. I will now look at Mcdunn’s philosophy on life.

I believe Mcdunn has a different view on life because he is not really concerned about human society, he uses words such as “lopping” to describe human actions and he also compares men to “white ants”. I think Mcdunn is self-reliant and a loner as in the quotation “someone always waiting for someone who never comes home. Always someone loving something more than that thing loves them. And after a while you want to destroy what ever that thing is, so it can’t hurt you no more”. I think although he appears to have been hurt he can still enjoy human company in the quotation, “you’re a good talker, thank the Lord”.

Therefore I think that Mcdunn and The Signalman have two different views on life. I feel that Mcdunn is happy with his lifestyle. I think this is because he has chosen it. I also think that The Signalman is not happy with his life because he ran wild and misused his opportunities now he is stuck with the job he’s got. Even though it is perhaps not the one he wanted. I will now look at the two protagonists in their relationship between them and their narrators. I will start off by reviewing The Signalman’s relationship with his narrator. Firstly, I think The Signalman is wary of his narrator.

The quotations to show this are “you look at me as if you have a dread of me”, also “you seem to regard me with fixed attention”. In my opinion The Signalman eventually trusts the narrator by telling him about the ghost. I also think that The Signalman is scared of the narrator’s reactions as the quotation ” If I telegraphed danger and give no reason they would think I was mad”. I think The Signalman is wary of his narrator in case he thinks he’s turned mad. He decides to arrange another visit before telling him what is troubling him. I will now look at the relationship of Mcdunn and his narrator.

Unlike The Signalman I think that Mcdunn has known his narrator for a while. In the quotation “you have been here now for three months” shows this. Mcdunn listens and has gained the trust of the narrator. He talks to the narrator well and the narrator listens well which I think shows they trust each other. Mcdunn, like The Signalman tells his secret to his narrator. Mcdunn is also worried like The Signalman that he will not be believed. The quotation, “you might think I’m daft” demonstrates that there is frankness between Mcdunn and the narrator.

Both The Signalman and Mcdunn do not want their narrators thinking they are mad. After reviewing The Signalman and Mcdunn I think they both have a bond between their narrators, enabling them to share their problems. I will now look at the two protagonists in their attitude towards their problems The Signalman is unclear about the meaning of the ghost. He also shows fear in the use of repeated questions. “What’s the danger”, “What’s wrong” and “where” To the reader, this shows that The Signalman is searching for meaning in the ghost’s actions.

This adds suspense to the book and the reader. I think The Signalman wants to know the meaning of the ghost because his job depends on saving the lives of others, which affects his attitude towards the ghost, and the thoughts of others. I will now look at Mcdunn and his attitude towards the sea monster. Unlike The Signalman Mcdunn appears to understands the sea monster and why it comes to the tower. The quotation ” that poor monster living out at sea” shows this. I think that Mcdunn empathises with the sea monster and understands its suffering.

Mcdunn is not scared of showing his affection towards the monster. The quotation “steady boy steady” shows this as he talks to the sea monster almost like a pet. Mcdunn tries to protect the monster. This is illustrated when Mcdunn is willing to lie about the tower being destroyed as the quotation shows “it fell apart, that is all”. After reviewing the two protagonists and their attitude towards the apparitions, I can conclude that there are differences between the two. The Signalman does not know the reason the ghost is there. He does not want it to be there.

Whereas Mcdunn does, he sees the sea monster as a friend and he doesn’t appear to have many of them. Mcdunn thinks that the sea monster is drawn to the foghorn “calling to you with a long neck like your neck sticking way up out of the water”. He understands the sea monster unlike The Signalman who doesn’t know what the apparition is telling him. To conclude, I really enjoyed reading both stories but I think that “The Signalman” had a much deeper meaning and twist in the end which made me think whilst “The Foghorn” just had a sad ending.

I could really feel for The Signalman because he knew some thing bad was about to happen but felt powerless because he did not know how to deal with it. The ending is not how I imagined and therefore made the story more entertaining than The Foghorn. Although “The Foghorn” had a sad ending with the sea monster returning to the deep, it did not create the same emotion. They were both entertaining in their own right and although they were written a century apart the stories were not that different.

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