The Signalman Essay
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There is an immediate sense of the unknown. The first line in the story is “Halloa, below there! “. This opens the story with a sense of mystery. There are two people unknown to each other, one high, and the other below. The narrator is seen as the being in the presence of light and the signalman is in the dark. This is an extreme contrast to suggesting there is a sense of difference between the two characters. The description of the railway cutting is ‘extremely dark’.
“His past was in a solitary and dismal place as I ever saw.
On either side a dripping wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky”. The description describes a very depressing place, almost reminding the reader of Hell, or something equivalent. This gives the reader the feeling of a bad place, which builds up tension, suspense, and suspicion, as to what will happen in this horrible cutting. We are also given a vivid description of the Signalman’s character. As the story continues, we see the Signalman’s character develop into a professional man.
We find out he is a very educated man, but ran wild at university, thus being expelled. “A student of natural philosophy, and attended lectures, but had run wild, misused his opportunities, gone down and never risen again”. We also find out he has other qualities, which are being reliable and dutiful. We see this when he stops in mid-sentence in order to carry out his duties on the line. “I observed him to be remarkably exact and vigilant, breaking of his discourse at a syllable, and remaining until what he had to do was done”
This leads us to believe the Narrator became impressed and interested by the Signalman. Through the Signalman’s haunting we can also see other sides of him. We see he has a lot of fear, of the haunting. We can especially see this in his language in following his long conversation with the visitor, “What is the danger? Where is the danger? “. These short sharp sentences show the fear in the signalman. We could also see this when the traveller introduces himself, as this is where we get the first hints of the Signalman’s instability and fear.
He believes he has seen the traveller before and when asked where “He pointed to the red light he had looked at, there”. We know the Signalman is showing fear at this point as he speaks in a “low voice”. The language used by Dickens is suitably old fashioned, which suits it as nowadays the most popular ghost stories were written in the 19th century, “Though in a subordinate position, still he held a most important trust, and would I like to stake my own life on the chances of his continuing to execute it with precision?
” As you can see, the style of writing is quite complicated and written in the familiar old fashioned Victorian style. Dickens use of adjectives to create a menacing and supernatural atmosphere is typical of ghost stories. The cutting which is overshadowed by trees leaving little light to shine through is described as a “dungeon” suggesting a claustrophobic and imprisoned atmosphere which is typical of a ghost story. Rarely are ghost stories set in wide sprawling open spaces and this is no exception.
Dickens describes the tunnel as having a “gloomy” entrance and the actual tunnel itself being “black” and the signal box as “dismal”. But he then goes onto describe the mouth of the tunnel as described as having “a barbarous, depressing and forbidding air” and then the narrator feels as though he had “left the natural world” like he had entered hell. Kasim Hassan Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.