The Yellow Face, Tell Tale Heart and The Sea Raiders

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The short stories I will talk about were written around a hundred years ago in the 1890’s. Short stories were very necessary in this century as TV’s and radios were not available, and reading was the main source of entertainment. You must remember that Victorian ideas of entertainment were very different to ours, as there was a lot of interest in reading then. These short stories followed a traditional structure, an exposition, complication, climax and resolution.

The purpose of which, are as follows; the exposition sets the scene and introduces characters, the complication builds up tension as the problem is introduced, the climax is the most exiting part as the problem is introduced, the climax is the most exiting part as the problem escalates and finally the resolution solves the problems and usually ends happily. The three stories I will discuss are ‘The Yellow Face’ by Arthur Conan Doyle, a story of mistrust and mystery with Sherlock Holmes.

The ‘Tell Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allen Poe a madman’s story, thinking he is a victim of an evil eye, and lastly ‘The Sea Raiders’ by H. G Wells, a retired tea sellers brutal encounter with two sea monsters. The Exposition of ‘The Sea Raiders’ commences with a low level of excitement similar to the level of excitement in a traditional short story. However the lengthy sentences and factual information differs from a traditional short story as it would normally contain expressive language with many adjectives to amuse their reader and immerse them in the story.

Due to the amount of scientific language in the exposition, the excitement level had dropped ‘Haploteuthis Ferox was known to science only generically’ this quote does not grasp the reader’s attention as it is mainly providing you with facts. It also does not seem to contain any descriptive language, therefore lowering the excitement level of the reader as well, as the content of adjectives was very important in order to excite the reader.

There are also various long sentences in the exposition, ‘In no particular department of zoological science, indeed have we been quite so much in the dark, as with regards to the deep sea cethalopods’, this neither grasps the readers attention, nor raises the excitement of the reader as the pace is very slow. It also has many long scientific words which also disinterest the reader as well. H. G Wells also uses many commas in each sentence which slows the reader while reading it, therefore causing the slow pace. However H.

G Wells also uses these techniques to engage his reader, as the use of factual language can also interest readers as well such as ‘found early in 1896 by Mr Jennings near Lands End’. By making the exposition more factual it results in the entire story being more believable, as we are convinced by what the narrator is saying and therefore we begin to trust the narrator throughout the whole of the story. By using exact dates, specific places, and detailed facts, it gives the idea to the reader that a news reporter may be narrating ‘In the summer of 1895’ here the narrator is describing the setting and time just as a news reporter would.

However it may also be the fact, that a scientist is narrating, ‘These specimens were cethalopods, fragments of cethalopods… all of them known the science’, the scientific language used, names of creatures and the mention of science itself persuades the reader into thinking the narrator may be a scientist as he analyses Mr Fison’s ordeal, and attempts to discover the monstrous sea creatures. I also feel he may be a scientist as he names many different cases of the mystery such as ‘Hemley’s Theory’ he also seems quite intrigued at how Mr Fison survived this ordeal as he was the first person to survive an attack from these creatures.

Lastly I feel the narrator may be a detective as he reports many cases of death, ‘A decaying body … found early in 1896’ this language is quite specific, it seems as if he is investigating Mr Fison’s ordeal. I also think this, as many factual and precise writing is given in the story. Whoever the reader assumes the narrator to be, the certainty is that H G Wells has not used Mr Fison, the main character. If Mr Fison was narrating he wouldn’t have known the names of the sea creatures, dates, times or any scientific language to make the story seem convincing.

He is a tea-dealer and wouldn’t know the correct language, as a news reporter, scientist or detective would. The use of factual and believable language may have lowered the level of excitement for a modern reader. However, an 1800’s reader would be drawn to such a story as it offers facts about new places in the world and as most people found they could not travel books were their only outlook towards the world. Also science fiction was also popular in 1800’s and as there was a high rate of new discovery, people were very inquisitive and looked upon books to give them knowledge about these new discoveries.

The exposition of ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ is introduced with a high level of excitement, quite the opposite of a traditional short story as this usually begins with a low level of excitement. However it does contain some similarities, as similar to a traditional short story, Edgar Allen Poe introduces the main character in the exposition; however he does this through the use of the narrator.

The level of tension in this short story is extensively high as it begins theatrically right from the very first sentence ‘True! nervous very, very dreadfully nervous’, this quote demonstrates the panic in the narrator, which adds a sense of mystery as to what the narrator is panicked by. You can clearly see the narrator is nervous by the punctuation used, such as exclamations marks and dashes; this creates panicked pauses, shock and surprise. This immediately engages the reader therefore raising ther tension level surprisingly high due to this incoherent speech. There is also repetition used, which reinforces what the narrator is saying, and adds to the panic.

This increases the excitement level of the reader as they begin to ask questions as to who the narrator is and why they feel that way. The repetition also makes the narrator seem unstable, as it seems as if they do not know what they are saying which makes the reader lose trust in the narrator and maybe even assume they are mad. There is also a mention of a murder n the exposition which is one of the main reasons of the raise in the level of excitement ‘the whole week before I killed him’ this dramatic confession sends the readers tension level rocketing.

The reader also feels quite surprised, as naturally you would feel quite shocked to hear someone talking about a murder so casually, which supports the reader’s assumption that the reader is mad. The reader then feels quite enthralled to be entertained by such a delirious narrator, ‘I am mad? ‘ there is high amount of repetition of this phrase in the exposition which makes the reader question the fact the more times it is said.

However with the fast pace, jerky speech, repetition and mystery used in the story, the reader has no reason not to think the narrator is psychotic. Comparing ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ to ‘The Sea Raiders’, I feel ‘The Sea Raiders’ is more factual and contains more scientific language, which makes it less engaging for the reader. It also takes a while to introduce the storyline to the reader, so they lose interest during the exposition. However for an 1800’s reader they would have quite liked the exposition due to the language used.

Moving on, ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ creates excitement right from the very beginning, and the reader is engaged in the story due to its fast pace and mystery. ‘The Sea Raiders’ is more evident that it is made in the 1800’s as it is the most like a traditional short story and would be most entertaining to a reader of that time, whereas on the other hand ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ seems more modern as it differs a reasonable amount from a traditional short story.

In ‘The Sea Raiders’ H. G Wells uses a narrator who is calm and factual, which differs abundantly to ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ as Edgar Allen Poe used a panicked narrator, who plays the role of the main character. This may be the main reason in the difference in excitement as both writers maintained such contrasting styles of writing, and have much assorted opinions on how to entertain their readers. Overall I feel ‘The Tell Tale Heart’s exposition was most entertaining.

The complication of ‘The Sea Raiders’ contrast immensely to its exposition, as the tension level dramatically rises, mainly as the sea creatures are introduced meaning more descriptive language written to describe them ‘very long and flexible tentacles, coiled copiously’ by using descriptive writing its more interesting for the reader, as it raises their excitement as they are intrigued by these strange creatures. Also ‘jumping, slipping, sliding, wading’ creates panic and desperation in Mr Fison, by using these dramatic verbs. There are also many commas in this quote to show everything happens at once.

Shorter sentences are also used which causes the pace to move quicker, as the story is developing. In addition the level of tension in the complication is very similar to that of a traditional short story, as the tension begins to rise, due to the problem being introduced. From the opening of ‘The Yellow Face’ to its complication the tension level increases, this level of tension is also very similar to that of traditional short story as the problem is clearly introduced. However it differs to a traditional short story as the narrator changes during the middle of the story, this leads to mystery being created.

The writer engages his reader’s interest by using an element of mystery, created by changing the narrator. There is a dramatic change in style between the two, narrators Watson and Monroe. The story begins with the with the relaxed and intellectual style of Watson, however this style of narration abruptly changes and the main character Monroe begins telling his story, with his frantic and nervous narration, this sudden change in these two very contrasting narrators which causes the reader to ask themselves questions as to why Monroe is nervous and agitated, which also engages the reader.

Mystery is also created, as the readers do not yet know what the Yellow Face is and therefore are asking themselves many unanswerable questions at this stage. The use of language in ‘The Yellow Face’ also causes the tension level to increase ‘Our visitor sprang from his chair, ‘What! ‘ he cried ‘you know my name? ‘ this quote demonstrates the surprise in Monroe by the use of an exclamation mark. The question mark at the end of his speech also shows the paranoia Monroe is suffering from and his confusion in how they know his name.

In addition ‘he cried’ shows he is out of control and hysterical at that moment in the story. Also, using dramatic words such as ‘sprang’ increases excitement with the speed and tension of the word, and lastly the broken up sentences in Monroe’s speech indicates his jerky and anxious character. Comparing the complication of ‘The Yellow Face’ to that of ‘The Sea Raiders’ you can clearly see that they both follow the structure of a traditional short story, also both their complications were higher in tension compared to their expositions.

However in many way they do differ from each other as in ‘The Sea Raiders’ it continuously had the same calm narrator, yet in ‘The Yellow Face’ it diversifies many times to create a dramatic effect . I also feel ‘The Yellow Face’ complication carried more mystery than ‘The Sea Raiders’ as ‘The Sea Raiders’ complication obtained more factual and scientific language. The use of the false resolution in ‘The Yellow Face’ causes a dramatic effect. A false resolution is the illusion the writer gives to the reader, to make it seem as if The problem f the story is being solved.

This affects the reader as they feel as if their excitement level goes down, as the reader thinks the end of the story is nearing, so when the actual climax does take place, the reader’s tension level will be more intense as it would have been due to the false resolutions bigger leap in excitement. In ‘The Yellow Face’ exposition, the reader builds trust with Sherlock, ‘it takes a muscular, energetic fellow to do that’ this quote amplifies Sherlock’s outstanding detective skills, which therefore makes the reader trust Sherlock throughout the story, so when the false resolution does take place, the reader believes everything being said.

This would have contrasted to a traditional short story as it carries no false resolution in its structure. The drop in tension in the middle of ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ results in the reader feeling shocked, confused and panicked. The language used in the short story helps to create a drop in tension ‘the old man was dead’, this reduces the amount of tension as all your anxieties leading up to the death has come to an end, and you feel a sense of relief.

This deviates from the structure of a traditional short story, as a drop in tension during the middle of a short story wouldn’t normally happen, and contrastingly this part of the story would normally contain the highest level of tension. The climax of ‘The Sea Raiders’ contains the most prominent level of excitement of the whole story, and the tension seems to be noticeably higher than the complication, this is similar to a traditional short story as the climax usually does contain the most intense excitement. The writer does this through the use of language, such as ‘staggering with the quivering rocking boat’.

By the use of descriptive adjectives Wells creates vivid images in the reader’s mind, which engages them into the story. This also is similar to a traditional short story as a climax usually contains dramatic language as well. An example of this is ‘convulsed with terror’ this theatrical word ‘convulsed’ sends the reader into immediate tension by using such a dramatic adjective. In the climax of ‘The Yellow Face’ the tension level is considerably higher than it usually would be. This is due to the extensive leap in excitement from the false resolution.

This contrasts to a traditional short story as he tension level in the climax is not as extravagant, as a traditional short story has no false resolution. The writer continues to engage the readers interest by the language exploited ‘Monroe stood staring, hand clutching his throat’ Arthur Conan Doyle illustrates the pure shock Monroe is experiences, by the strong sharp powerful adjectives used as ‘Clutching’ demonstrates the amazement in Monroe due to what he is witnessing; the effect is also amplified by the desperation of the word and its strong meaning.

Also ‘staring’ indicates that Monroe is not sure of what is going on around him, as it demonstrates shock and uncertainty. This suspenseful mystery, gains the readers engagement, as all the unanswerable questions running through the readers minds earlier in the story are slowly and mysteriously being answered. ‘The Yellow Face’ has a controversial outcome, as Monroe finally discovers that his wife had had a child from her previous marriage- who comes from an African descent.

This would provoke dissimilar reactions from readers of contrasting time periods. A modern day reader would not be as shocked to hear of a mixed race child as this is a familiar sight in today’s society, and we have familiarized ourselves with this. However the tension level would be moderately higher for a 1800’s reader as they would be more surprised to hear of such a thing as it rarely happened in the Victorian times, and if on a rare occasion it were seen, it would have been thought quite shocking or in some peoples cases wrong.

In ‘The Yellow Face’ they describe the child as a creature ‘The little creature ran across’ this may seem in some ways relatively offensive, as it may seem as if they are discriminating against the child, due to its race. Also by characterizing it a ‘creature’ it almost seems as if the writer is dehumanizing the child. In addition by saying it ‘ran across’ it gives an animalistic feature to the child, which emphasis to the reader that the child is different. It also manipulates the readers mind into thinking it is wrong to have a mixed race child.

By doing this it creates more shock in the reader, towards the situation. Comparing ‘The Sea Raiders’ climax to that of ‘The Yellow Face’, I feel both their climax’s contained the highest amount of excitement throughout both their stories, which is similar to a traditional short story. Also both their climax’s also both contained a considerable amount of descriptive language such as ‘sweeping into the room, with a proud, set face’ (in ‘The Yellow Face’) and ‘lugged desperately’ (in ‘The Sea Raiders’).

However I do feel the climax of ‘The Yellow Face’ was surely the most thrilling. ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ combines both their climax and resolution into one. This differs excessively to a traditional short story, ‘The Sea Raiders’ and ‘The Yellow Face’, as they hold their climax and resolution separately. Edgar Allen Poe uses language and punctuation to engage his readers ‘I bade them search- search well’ this magnifies the emphasis in what the narrator is saying by using italicised text.

The writer also uses repetition of the word ‘search’ this creates panic and uncertainty or even madness in the narrator, which affects the reader as it makes them nervous and wonder weather the police will find out about the murder or not. The writer also uses dashes in this quote to create guilty pauses, this raises the reader’s excitement level as in the story the narrator is acting confident, yet the narration is so guilty and panicked.

This creates mixed emotions for the reader by the mystery created. At the very end of the story exclamation marks are displayed ‘louder! louder! this is engaging the reader to the very last moment, to leave them cliff- hangered. The repetition of the word louder, increases the excitement level more every time it is said as the reader is urged to find out what is happening and grows impaitient due to the continuous pattern. In addition the word ‘louder’ is dramatic itself, so with the addition of exclamation marks it makes the language much impelling. ‘The Yellow Face’ resolution ends happily and all loose ends are tied; this is similar to a traditional short story as it ends happily as well. This would appeal to an 1800’s reader as they enjoyed happy endings.

The tension level in the resolution drops dramatically from its climax, as the story is ending and the mysteries are being solved. There is also a sudden change in language, as in the climax the child was called a ‘creature’ however this changed to ‘child’ in the resolution. This change took place as Monroe accepted his wife’s secret and the child, so Edgar Allen Poe displayed that by humanizing the child through the use of language. The message I feel the writer is trying to portray is that the colour of your skin should not matter and people of all races should be accepted.

Victorian readers enjoyed morals at the end of their stories as they read books to give them knowledge; they also enjoyed learning new things as well. This message was important, especially to readers during that time period as people from the 100’s obviously had very different ways of thinking and found it odd to socialize and mix with people from different backgrounds than themselves. In conclusion to my essay I feel as if ‘The Sea Raiders’ would most appeal to readers of the 1800’s as they enjoyed being taught new things, mystery and science-fiction and ‘The Sea Raiders’ contained just that.

Also it would have been an ideal story for Victorian readers as it followed a traditional short story structure. I feel it would also have entertained them excessively due to the mysterious and spooky sea monsters. The most entertaining story I feel for our times would have most likely been ‘The Yellow Face’ due to fast pace and high level of excitement throughout the whole story, as it takes much more to excite modern day readers than it does to entertain Victorian readers.

As modern day readers have other things to pass their time with like play stations and televisions which contain such high amount or excitement that books seem quite petty. ‘The Yellow Face’ also contains a false resolution which heightens the excitement level further. Also detective stories are quite popular in modern day times, so a reader of our times would have much enjoyed this short story. Overall I feel people of different times periods have different likings and look for different things in books. Victorian readers look for more knowledge and learning, whereas people from modern day look for excitement and thrills.

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