The Terribly Strange bed


‘This subtle introduction of danger is immediately built upon when Grandma Hanlon wails to the ladies “Won’t catch me out on no night like this,” “Not with the Lonely One strangling women. Lock myself in with my gun! ” This is the first reference to the ‘Lonely One’, and that there is something sinister and dangerous about the night. The theme of the vulnerability of the women, and in particular Lavinia, is developed throughout the story and is emphasised by the strong use of adjectives to describe the heat of the night “The heat, pulsed under your dress and along your legs with a stealthy sense of invasion.

” This description starts to set the mood of the unseen violating Lavinia. In every story there are four parts, which are the exposition, complication, climax, and then the resolution, in both stories these points are reached except in the Whole Town’s Sleeping where the reader is not provided with a resolution, but is left in a spine chilling suspense to draw their own conclusion of the fate of Lavinia at the end of the story.

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The exposition of A Terribly Strange Bed is the description of the gambling house the description of which creates a disturbing environment for the rest of the story to develop from. As the man starts to gamble the audience realise that things are not quite straightforward, there are sinister under tones. The gambler is having an unnatural run of good luck in his game and is accumulating a large sum of money that it is going to cause problems later and increase the gamblers vulnerability.

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Increasing the tension

Sentences like, “My success first bewildered, and then, in the most literal meaning of the word, intoxicated me”, “I speedily increased my stakes to sums which they dared not risk”, and “my friend begged me to leave the place” work to increase the tension as they help to point out that the character is so engrossed in the gambling that he has forgotten his surroundings and what a potentially vulnerable position he is in.

This section allows us to understand his involvement because we can read, see and feel it in the description given. In The Whole Town’s Sleeping the exposition is Grandma Hanlon locking herself inside her home with her gun for security and Francine starting to worry about ‘the Lonely One’ the setting is ideal for a story to send shivers running up and down your spine and again for demonstrating the vulnerability of the women. The women are going out with no male defenders and will have to return late at night through the dark ravine.

Also, this is the first implication that the home is the ‘safe’ place to be. The complication in The Whole Town’s Sleeping is Francine in contrast to Lavinia she is constantly on edge and alert to the dangers and she becomes hysterical every time a small event occurs. This makes it harder for Lavinia to remain calm, but also highlights the different responses to the suggested dangers that the women could make, emphasing that on each occasion Lavinia selects the most risky option.

Francine is constantly begging Lavinia to go home with phrases like “Maybe we shouldn’t go to the movie”, “The Lonely One might follow us and kill. “,”Lets run,” Francine’s fear has a minor affect on Lavinia she makes comments like, “It’s early. The Lonely One won’t be out till late. , and is described ” Lavinia, cool as mint ice-cream”, I think that Lavinia found some comfort in Francine’s constant babble and by acting more confident and less dramatic.

The complication at the beginning

In A Terribly Strange Bed the complication at the beginning is the protagonist’s friend, who tries to persuade him to stop gambling and to go home. The complication is later changed after breaking the bank the character is led to a cafi?? by the suspicious looking soldier who provides champagne which causes the protagonist to become drunk and then drugged, so his awareness of his surroundings and the ensuing events is greatly diminished, he does not really notice what is going on around him.

Here in the story the ‘too good to be true’ factor is used. The suspicious soldier started of by returning the character’s gambling chip, which had fallen to the floor, he then urged him to continue gambling, which he did in a very successful fashion. Once the bank was broken the soldier provides the character with champagne causing him to become intoxicated the soldier then shows concern by making our character drink coffee apparently to help him sober up.

He does all this for a man he only met an hour before reasoning that he is simply concerned for our character’s safety. This makes the reader suspicious of the old soldier and consequently, fearful for the safety of the protagonist. Also, the fact that the wine seems to be unusually strong puts doubt into the readers’ mind as to whether or not this is actually unadulterated wine. The leading character casts it off as nothing and so the doubt is never confirmed or laid to rest thereby adding to our sense of suspense.

The main events of the story or the climax are reached in different ways in the two stories. In The Whole Town’s Sleeping there are many events, which create a very intense climax up to the main events this makes the story longer and it keeps the audience gripped. The climax of the story is Lavinia’s trip back home through the ravine, Ray Bradbury uses a technique of short sharp language one or two word sentences, he also uses numbers to help with the build up of anticipation, he counts out the steps down the ravine.


In A Terribly Strange Bed there aren’t as many events leading up to the main events, but the climax is reached by creating an eerie setting which gets the reader gripped as they know something big is going to happen, Wilkie Collins describes the movement of the bed by the disappearing picture, she makes so you think the man is definitely going to die but he escapes just in time. But the climax does not finish with the mans escape from the bed, he still has to leave the gambling house without being caught, the events have been organised very well so that you are eager to find out what happens next.

The language in each story is very different for example the pre twentieth century story is roughly the same length as the 20th century story but less events occur in The Terribly Strange Bed, there are a lot more words used to say a minor sentence, there are a lot of adjectives and similes used the text is a lot more decorated for example the gambling house isn’t just said to be blackguard there are many other words used such as ‘poverty stricken, no false ginger bread glitter, and ragged.

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The Terribly Strange bed. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

The Terribly Strange bed

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