My essay is a discussion of the different ways in which the imagination of the reader is engaged by suspense. The stories I am discussing are ” Bang Bang Who’s? Dead?” “The Dress”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The case for the defence” and “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”. Suspense is a state of uncertainly, anticipation and curiosity as to the outcome of a story or play. The Parts of which I am going to discuss are narrative, characterisation and atmosphere.
In “Bang Bang Who’s? Dead?” the way in which suspense is shown is by the withholding of detail. The detail is withheld by not knowing how the girl died because there were no cars and in the story it says “she was a child of the house who was run over at the drive gates” then it says “But there were no motor cars like that when children wore stockings and pinafores”. There is also the withholding of detail when Fran’s mum says ” and would like to live in a house with …”. Straight after her mum said this Fran says, ” Is it haunted?” Then the story says “she new things even before you had even thought of them” This gives a clue to the reader to suggest that Fran is not a normal child because she has some sort of physic power. When the family arrive at the house the woman who lives there tells Fran to keep far from the road, this gives a clue that the woman knows about the ghost girl.
Fran also felt as if she had already been upstairs when she had not this gives a clue to the reader to suggest that she is beginning to turn into the ghost girl. Fran was also a fast runner this also gives a clue that she is turning because the ghost girl “can’t half run”. When she saw the ghost girl Fran went hot then cold. This is the opposite of the ghost girl, which gives a clue that Fran has transformed into the ghost girl. There is a part when Fran’s heart does not thump at all. This almost tells us that she is the ghost girl and dead. When Fran finds the girl she is surprised to see a mirror image of herself, which makes you think who this girl is. Keeping the detail of when she is told that she is the ghost to the end gives the reader an uncertainly of what you think could happen next.
In “The Tell-Tale Heart” suspense is created by the short sentences, which gives a disjointed effect and makes the reader feel uncertain. The old man’s eye is described unusually. There is the suspense of how the killer got into the old man’s house and why he only put his head through the door. When it says, “the watch’s minute hand moved faster than my head did”.
This shows suspense of the killer and also of the reader because you wonder why he is taking a long time to put his head through the door. Suspense is carried on during the story when the killer says, ” Death had stalked with his black shadow”. This gives the reader a clue to that something bad will happen to the old man. The use of the dash gives a disjointed effect to suppose to the reader that he is mad. When all the killer could hear was the old man’s heart. This shows suspense because it gives an image that the whole place is silent. He gloats about killing the man and has pity for him, and then he starts enjoying that he killed him. This would make the reader feel uncertain because they would wonder what he could do next.
In “The Case for the Defence” suspense starts with the first sentence because it says, “It was the strangest murder trial I have ever attended”. This makes the reader curious because you want to know why it was the strangest murder trial. The description of the man makes the reader feel uncertain because he is described as having blood shot eyes and muscular legs. In the last paragraph there is quite a lot of suspense because when the man is run over. The next sentence is a rhetorical question. In the last sentence shows suspense because makes you think that the man being run over was your fault. It also makes you think how you would deal with it always on your conscience.
In “The Dress” suspense starts off when it says” His shirt was torn and the blood dry on his blades which gives a clue that he is not an ordinary man. “He smiled like a cat” is another clue to tell that he is not an ordinary man. When the owl hooted tells you that something bad is going to happen. This makes the reader think what bad thing is going to happen. You finally get told what sort of man he is. He is a madman, which makes you think even more about what bad thing he could do. He keeps on thinking about some girl which makes you think if he is going to do something bad to her. The description of the man ” He had green eyes” which makes you think what the rest of him looks like. What he says about what he did to his wife makes you think again about what he could do to this girl he wants to see. It asks a rhetorical” what became of the woman?”. This engages your imagination to think what happened.
In ” Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” suspense starts when it gives a description of the door, which makes you think what is behind the door. When the little man tramples over the little girl, it makes you think why he did it and if he has a mental problem. The description of the little man shows suspense because his description so horrific they cannot talk about it. Suspense is also shown because Mr Utterson cannot get to sleep because of this monster Hyde. Suspense builds up when Mr Utterson is standing waiting for Hyde to come out of the door. This engages your mind to try to guess what Hyde looks like. When he does not appear you feel even more curious of what he looks like. When the story says” there was a shudder in his blood” this shows suspense because you want to know why this has happened. When Poole returns he says that Mr Hyde is here this gives a clue to who Hyde is and also how he enters the house.
When it says ” the strange clauses of the will” this engages the readers mind to try and think about what these strange clauses are. It says, ” At the horror of these sights and sounds, the maid fainted” this makes you think about what these sights and sounds, looked and sounded like. You are also uncertain why the murder was carried out. You find out that the man, who was killed, gad a letter to deliver. This shows suspense because you anticipate what was in the letter and if that was the cause of the murder. The description of the Hyde’s housekeeper makes you think if she is related to Hyde. When they go into Hyde’s house they find the stick, which he used to murder Carew. This makes you think again why the murder was carried out. They decide to try and search for him but they do not know what he looks like. This shows suspense because the reader is uncertain and curious whom Hyde actually is.
When Utterson goes to Jekyll’s house and finds him there this makes the reader curious of what Jekyll looks like. Jekyll says that no one will ever hear of Hyde again. This gives the reader a clue to suggest that Jekyll might have something to do with Hyde. When you hear that Hyde wrote a letter to say that he would no longer trouble Jekyll. When Utterson leaves he asks Poole if any letters had been handed in. when he says no it gives a clue to the reader that the letter must have been written in the house. When you hear that Jekyll forged Hyde’s letter this makes you think that Hyde will still trouble Jekyll and maybe keep on killing people. When Jekyll shuts his door to visitors in the New Year it makes you think why he has done this. Lanyon says that no one should mention the name of Jekyll makes you think he wants this to happen.
When Lanyon dies and Utterson receives a letter you automatically want to know what is in it. When Utterson and Enfield go to Jekyll’s house and start to talk to him. When Jekyll suddenly closes the window you want to know why he did this. When Poole takes Utterson to Jekyll’s room to confirm that it is not Jekyll’s voice. This makes you think whose voice it could be. When Poole says that he has seen the man you this makes you anticipate what he looks like.
When Poole tells Utterson that the figure is Hyde this makes you curious because you think that Hyde wants to murder Jekyll. You are uncertain why Hyde has not destroyed Jekyll’s will. When you hear that Lanyon is to be visited by a stranger you want to know who it is. When you read that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person you are uncertain why this happens and want to know more. You are curious why Jekyll wanted a double life. When you hear that Hyde is growing stronger you think what it must be like to be Jekyll.
My personal response is it that all the stories showed suspense in different ways. In “Bang Bang Who’s? Dead?” suspense is shown by the little girls transformation into a ghost. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” suspense is shown the killer stalking and killing the old man because of his eye. In “The Case for the Defence” suspense is shown by the murder trial and one of the convicted dying. In “The Dress” a madman trying to find a girl and remembering what he did to his wife shows suspense. In “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” suspense is shown by the transformation of Jekyll into Hyde and back again.