How do the authors create the feeling of suspense and mystery in the two short stories The Clubfooted Grocer and The Signalman
Throughout this essay, I will analyse how language and literary devices are used for effect. The signalman written by Charles Dickens (who also penned Great Expectations, Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist) and Clubfooted Grocer written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame. ) are both examples of pre-20th century prose. Both authors achieved great success for their larger works however both experimented with short stories, which these two are classic examples.
The language in both The Clubfooted Grocer and The Signalman, is pre-20th century, while some of the vocabulary and sentence structure are unfamiliar to a contemporary audience it would have been familiar to a reader at the time of publication. Such examples of strange sentence structure include “to disgust him with his surroundings” from The Clubfooted Grocer; meaning that the person dislikes the place that he/she is living.
In the Clubfooted Grocer, they also mention the profession of a “provision merchant. A 21st century audience may not realise that this is someone who sells from a shop. Similarly in The Signalman a pre, 20th century sentence is “whether there may have been infection in his mind,” this is a way of suggesting that the character is not mentally stable. Another example of pre 20th century writing in The Signalman is “how ought I to act, having become the recipient of this disclosure? ” This is the writer asking himself how he should act on the information he has received. What I have highlighted are examples of writing which is often absent from contemporary texts.
The suspense and mystery in The Clubfooted Grocer develops throughout the majority of the short story. To sustain audiences interest over such a period is a challenging task however I feel the author was successful. A key theme in the Clubfooted Grocer seems to be chance happenings. The audience understandable concerned when John gets the letter asking him to go to his uncles, that he has not seen for 15 years and who didn’t come to his brothers, Johns fathers funeral. Having come out the blue the audience feel concerned that the invitation maybe sinister.
Then later makes out he is the only one who can help by saying. “Do not fail, only you to look to. ” This is the Uncle asking John to come to him and that he is his last hope. It later reads in a second telegram “good shooting, Let John bring gun” this in these days was quite acceptable, but later on the gun is spoke of as a “weapon” causing a different type of suspense and mystery to the scene. When John is travelling to his uncles, they detoured to a farm and stay the night, this was very odd as they could have made journey in the time they had,” but Garth Farm House-six miles.
There will receive instructions” this was very strange and mysterious. Another mysterious scene within The Clubfooted Grocer is the sailor in the marshes and how William the trap driver reacts, “I could see the stranger sitting by the roadside and cramming tobacco into his pipe. ‘A sailor,’ said I then when questioning the trap driver ‘you seemed frightened of him. ” A later response was “maybe I was” this is all very mysterious as why is there a sailor so far in land and what has the trap driver got to be scared of from him.
In The Signalman, there is suspense and mystery built up by the Signalman telling the author not to shout down at him when he comes s to visit the second time. “When you have found it, don’t call out! ” This is rather odd and it is not explained at any other time. The most mysterious part in The Signalman is when The Signalman tells the author about the spectre and the actions taking place. The first concern is when the signalman runs up to the light, as he believes a person to be standing underneath it. The author writes that he “Saw this someone else standing by the red light near the tunnel.
The signalman then continues to explain how he ran all the way up to the tunnel, by saying “no, I ran on into the tunnel, five hundred yards. ” Clearly, this event affects him greatly. My opinions of the two short stories are that they are both very mysterious and almost unreal and out of this world. The narratives detail strange occurrence and the authors purposely choose to withhold details of the plot. The story of The Clubfooted Grocer causes the audience to question the motives of the uncle as how often does an uncle that you have never met call you to come to help him.
Secondly in the Signalman, how often does a bright and well learnt gentleman work in a signal box and is subjected to mysterious goings on with a surjection of a supernatural presence? The characters in the two stories are characteristic of the time, with speech and some other details. In The Clubfooted Grocer, we get a very long description of Johns Uncle, and small detail of him and the sailors and William the trap driver. Such extended detail is typical of much lit. Of the time.
In The Signalman, the reader is required to use much more of an imagination, as we do not get much detail on the happenings of the spectre. I would have personally liked too, however I can appreciate that by leaving the story with an almost ambiguous ending the reader is active is deciding on what really happens. In conclusion, I personally found the narrative of the clubfooted grocer to be extremely interesting due to its strange subject matter. Although I found the mystery of Signalman to be more engaging as it left more to the imagination. Both stories left me wondering ‘why? ‘ and ‘what if? ‘
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