Compare three stories of suspense Essay
Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website!
It tells the story of a man on a steam liner who unintentionally falls overboard whilst he is alone on the deck of the ship. This story, unlike the others, is written in the third person. This doesn’t greatly impinge on the whole impact of the story although it might be easier to envision yourself in the man’s position if it was written in the first person; it would cause the reader to be more familiar with the story.
However, reading a story in the third person can occasionally help you look upon the event more visibly because you are looking at the story happening in your mind when you are reading.
The technique of writing in the third person in this story has worked to its advantage since it has done just that. When reading “Man Overboard”, I detected that Churchill supplied a lot of information about the locale of the story so I was able to create a very vivid image in my mind of the story. I felt I could see the story happening. This story is written in prose but contains elements of verse, like “Frankenstein”. Verse in “Man Overboard” is used to show that there are parts of a song being sung during the story and that everybody else on the ship is occupied with singing the song whilst the man is in the water.
This isolates the man from the rest of the people making it seem that there is little chance that he will be rescued. It shows he is alone and that no one has noticed what has happened to him, which creates a strong feeling of fear and death. If this story were to be made into a film, I can imagine the song haunting the background of the scene where he is shouting for help. The song plays a very important part in the story: it is what causes the death of the man because it is the barrier between him and the rest of the people on board.
The characters in each story are men and in “The Raven” and “Man Overboard” they remain nameless. I think this is either to create a mysterious atmosphere where the reader is wondering their name or because they haven’t lived to tell their story to anyone human. I think that if the men were both named in “The Raven” and “Man Overboard”, the stories may have been more memorable because there would have been a name people could talk about to go with the story. It makes the men look more unfortunate if they don’t have names because it showed that maybe they didn’t use them because they didn’t come into contact with many people.
Both of the men didn’t encounter another human in the stories so they weren’t able to use their names either, for example, in conversation. Frankenstein and the man in “The Raven” are quite similar in the fact that they are both mentally affected by what they have been through in the story. The only character with an evident history is Frankenstein. This is because the story of “Frankenstein” is a novel and novels supply many details concerning the history of events, plots and characters. Frankenstein had a stable childhood.
He was loved and admired by his parents. He was their “plaything and idol”. From the quality of his childhood, it seemed there would be a fortunate and successful life in store for Frankenstein but things change as he is ‘punished for offending naturei??. We are first introduced to Frankenstein in Walton’s letters in the prologue. Walton is very curious about this “man in so wretched a condition” whom he has taken on board his vessel. This makes the reader wonder what this man has been through and why he is ill because it is evident he has experienced a lot.
Small hints of Frankenstein’s story are given away by his actions described by Walton in the letters. “He is continually on deck, apparently watching for the sledge that preceded his” and he “seeks one who fled from him”. Walton and his men on board are very curious about Frankenstein and the reader would be building up the same feelings here too, especially as Frankenstein wants to tell his story. He has the urge to tell someone what he has been through. The reader would believe that if he has the urge to tell the story, it must be good. This is the same with Poe’s characters.
The man in “The Raven” wants to tell his story. He includes every detail of how he felt, what happened and what he were thinking about. This helps the reader to fully understand what is happening in the story so they can begin to imagine exactly what the character experienced. Poe wrote every verse containing as much detail as possible to make sure the reader would perceive a very vivid image of the story. For example, in verse two, the last two full lines say “From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore, For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore”.
We learn three things from these two lines that are important in the plot. The man feels sorrowful because he has lost someone named Lenore whom he must love because he describes her as “rare and radiant” and he is trying to distract himself from his melancholy feelings by reading his book. In “Man Overboard” the first thing we are told is about the man is that “It was little after half-past nine when he fell overboard”. This removes most suspense from the story because you know what happens in the middle and you could start to think about the ending from the very first sentence.
However, it could make a reader curious as to why he fell over board and so they would be eager to read on. We don’t learn much about the man during the story because things happen so fast. We know he was liked by the other passengers because “he had been listening to the music and joining in the songs” before he went out on deck and he is heading to India on the mail steamer. From the way he is written about I think the man enjoyed being alone. He is very nostalgic and reflective and maybe this is why he was so vulnerable in the event that followed and gave up easily.
The settings of “Man Overboard” and the prologue of “Frankensteini?? ‘ are very similar. They are set in the ocean. This part of “Frankenstein” is set in the Arctic, which is a place many people had no knowledge of or had explored in the nineteenth century. “Man Overboard” is set in the Red Sea. This creates a completely different mood to “Frankenstein” but still contains a feeling of danger in that there is no one near-by. Setting a story in a desolate location creates a feeling of uncertainty and adventure and the feeling that anything could happen because the place is unfamiliar.
If a place were far from populated land, it would make it harder to survive if anything went wrong and it is known that in the sea things can sink and people can drown very easily. Phrases used to describe a sense of place in the Arctic such as “stiff gales”, “floating sheets of ice indicating the dangers of the region”, and “many hundred miles from any land” make it sound a very dangerous place. Many people hadn’t experienced the environment of such a place during the time Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” which made it harder to imagine and therefore more frightening.
It would be more frightening to someone reading this one hundred years ago because they would have less knowledge of the world surrounding them. The way the setting in “Man Overboard” is described is a contrast to this image of the Arctic. The Red Sea is said to be “warm” and the surfaces of the water are “still” but there is one sentence that makes me think of the ocean as a more horrific thing. When it says, “The mail steamer was hurrying through the Red Sea in the hope of making up the time which the currents of the Indian Ocean had stolen” it made me think that if the ocean could steal time, then it could be capable of stealing life.
That sentence contains a very powerful metaphor that adds a slight amount of suspense to the otherwise calm settings being described. The moon adds a lot of atmosphere to the setting. Where the moon is hidden behind the clouds in the beginning, it suggests that it will be harder to notice the man falling overboard because there is less light. The moon and clear sky reflect the man’s emotions in the beginning. The man is calm when the atmosphere is calm. When the moon comes out from behind the clouds at the end when the shark is moving towards the man, it reinforces that God had heard his appeal and sheds light on the man’s last moments.
Churchill probably created a calm atmosphere to make the event of the man falling overboard more dramatic because most elements of suspense were removed from the plot in the first line. A contrasting event to the setting it happens in is different to what happens in “Frankenstein” and “The Raven” where the horrific parts of those stories are set in bleak, dark, mysterious locations. For example, when Frankenstein creates his being and gives it life for the first time “it was on a dreary night in November”.
This tells us that it was in winter when it was cold, there are no leaves on trees and there is less life to witness this terrible crime that Frankenstein was about to commit. Phrases such as “the rain pattered dismally against the panes” and “the candle was nearly burnt out” make the waking of the monster more terrifying because it is dark and stormy. The monster would have been able to attack Frankenstein in the dark without anyone knowing and it would have been harder for him to escape. As a result of the monster’s appearance, Frankenstein fears his own creation even though he doesn’t know him.
“A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. ” This prejudice adds to the suspense and the reader would start to wonder about the destiny of the monster and how people will react to him. The monster would definitely be more terrifying to someone reading the story in the nineteenth century because horror was just being introduced for the first time and people would have been shocked at the sound of the appearance of such a creature. Each time Frankenstein meets his creation, the weather is gloomy or stormy.
After the monster has murdered Frankenstein’s brother, William, he reveals himself to Frankenstein on the horizon when “A flash of lightening illuminated the object”. Stormy weather has always been linked with horror stories because many people fear storms. Storms would have been more frightening in the nineteenth century because again, people wouldn’t have known as much about them as scientists do today. The one time when the weather is calm when Frankenstein meets his monster is when the monster tells of his travels.
The atmosphere is happier when the monster tells Frankenstein of how he was kind hearted and how he learnt to speak all by himself. It creates a feeling of new life in the setting although it is still set in winter. In “The Raven”, Poe uses the same ideas of a stereotypical horror setting to match the image of the Raven and how it signified an omen of death in the nineteenth century. Phrases such as “the air grew denser” make me think of suffocation, which leads to death. This story is set at night and in “the bleak December” similar to the creation of the monster in Frankenstein.
Being alone at night is like being alone in the sea where there are no people to help if you are in trouble. Each story contains lifeless settings to inspire horror in the story by making the characters appear alone and vulnerable. The three stories open very differently because of the different forms they are written in: novel, short story and poem. When Frankenstein begins his story, he starts with his history and talks about his childhood. As his childhood was happy and healthy, the mood of the first three chapters are happy as he talks about the highlights of his childhood, such as Elizabeth, his “companion”.
The opening of this story contradicts the rest of it where normally if someone has a good childhood they go on to lead a successful life. Shelley probably did this to make the events of the story less expected and more upsetting, as Churchill did in “Man Overboard”. “Man Overboard”, the short story, opens with the main plot being revealed. I think that making an opening quite short can leave a lot of space for detail in the middle, especially in a short story, which may make the story more effective in the end.
The opening of “The Raven” provides a little history of the character and actually lasts for six verses until the Raven enters in the seventh verse. This builds up a lot of suspense because the entry of the Raven keeps getting delayed because the man is continually trying to guess what is tapping at his door. In verse five there is a lot of suspense built up when it says “But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,” because there is something at the man’s door but it is not clear what it is.
The atmosphere in the opening of “The Raven” is similar to the atmosphere all the way through the story, unlike “Man Overboard” and “Frankenstein”, where the mood of the stories changes more frequently. The characters in the three stories each get disturbed by a being that is not human. This definitely adds a deeper sense of horror to the stories because we have less knowledge of other creatures compared to ourselves so they appear more powerful to us. How frightening a person finds the creature in each story depends on how society perceives the creature at that time, which would directly affect the reader’s opinion.
For example, in the nineteenth century when “The Raven” was written, ravens were considered as a very significant omen of death. The public feared the dark and sinister presence of ravens because they were thought to be present only at times of death. I remember watching a film set in the late nineteenth century in which there was a funeral and burial scene. In the corner of the screen sat perched in a tree there was a raven looking down on the event. It was almost as if the raven were watching the consequences of his presence.
The man in “The Raven” believes that the raven that has visited him is an omen of death because it calls it a “prophet, thing of evil, devil” and enquires to whether the “Tempter” sent it, which means he thinks either God or the Devil has sent it. He also enquires about his destiny and if he will meet Lenore again. He believes the raven has the power to know all. In “Frankenstein”, Shelley also talks of the Devil and compares Frankenstein’s creation to “a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived”.