Examine The settings which the writers have chosen for their stories in “The Signal man”, “The man with the twisted lip” and “the red room.” Consider the effects that each writer has created and how they contribute to the atmosphere I have chosen three separate stories out of 6 stories that i read, each mysterious and attempting to grip the reader till it’s ending. All use mystery but in a variety of settings. two using the supernatural, ” The red room” and “The signal man”, the other using crime and murder, “the man with the twisted lip.” The red Signalman keeps the reader in suspense by developing the spector through out the story and slowly revealing the Signal man’s experiences with the spector. The end is a dramatic anti climax as the Signal man is killed, The story has led us on a path but yet we never find out who or what the spector really is, Only revealing that it appears when an accident is going to happen.
“The Red room” also uses the supernatural in its mystery and suspense. This story as well as using a developing sequence of spooky events during the night to keep the reader, uses the characters own mind to scare him. Discovering that the only thing to fear is fear its self. In “The man with the twisted lip” the reader is sucked in to a missing persons enquiry and the dodgy dealings of a dark opium den. The story is developed up to a point where the reader has reached one conclusion when there is a complete twist in the tale. When the suspect turns out to be the missing person.
Historical background can help to show why each writer made their choices of settings. During the Victorian period Tales of mystery and suspense where extremely popular, especially ones telling of ghosts and spector’s as this was another world not understood by the Victorians but yet they were still embroiled in a superstitious and religious culture, half way between modern science and ancient superstition.
Charles Dickens wrote the signal man in a time when The steam engine was a relatively new creation and because it was not so well understood by the general public this could have added to peoples fear. Because of Dickens’s personal encounter with trains and a train accident where ten people were killed. The story is fuled, in my opinion by his distrust of the railway and modern technology as well as an understanding of the what the public at the time wanted in a story. This tail cleverly uses class division, ghosts and mystery to identify and enthral the “Victorian reader”.
Arthur Conan Doyle wrights about Sherlock Holmes, drug addiction and crime in the man with the twisted lip. At this time crime was prevalent in London as this was the time of the industrial revolution and the streets were covered in smog so criminals were rife and often went un-caught. Much like jack the ripper who terrorised the streets of London and was killing prostitutes and women at this time. For These reasons Sherlock Holmes had become a literary Hero at the time and had gripped the hearts and minds of people all over the country.
Probably because of the high levels of crime, High levels of mistrust in a incompetently seen police force and high levels of murder and missing persons this story was extremely relevant to a scared and worried public of the time. At this time Opium was a commonly used drug by many people and even wars where fought over it. Around this time The British Conquered Honk Kong of the Chinese in the Opium wars of the 18th century. This story is embroiled with Opium addiction and debt, where even Sherlock Holmes finds he needs to go under cover in an opium den where Watson finds him “you may imagine i have added opium smoking to cocaine injections.”but it is soon revealed that he is on to something “I am i the midst of a very remarkable inquiry.”
In “The Red Room” Wells Bestows a timeless aura to the story. Never actually once mentioning the time period that it is set, sure enough the language is mainly Victorian but this is so the reader could understand properly at the time. The setting of this story is a castle which bares no clue to the time frame of the story, and the characters never mention times, dates or places either. At this time ghost stories and the neo- Gothic style was very popular. Including the revival of Gothic architecture. This would have probably provided great inspiration for Wells. I also believe that Wells was a very clever man playing on what i earlier mentioned on that Victorians were still embroiled in a superstitious and religious culture, half way between modern science and ancient superstition. This kind of intelligence for the human mind and how to play on many of the fears of the human condition was illustrated in later works such as “The war of the worlds” and its radio broadcast.
The signal man begins in a dark railway trench, and the setting is described to be ” steeped in the glow of an angry sunset,” This sets the tone of the story by using something usually beautiful and relaxing as something that will intimidate and menace. “at the door of his box, with a flag in his hand, furled round its short pole,” This creates a picture in the mind of the reader and introducing the signal man to this tale. It is made apparent that the signal man does not trust the man the calling to him, this is apparent in his initial refusal to reply to the narrator.
In The signal man Dickens distrust of the railway, probably owing to the crash he was involved in, is made apparent by comments such as”a violent pulsation”. This is not just Dickens’s resentful rantings about the railway but a clever literary trick to set the mood of the text and to put negative and frightening thoughts in to the head of the reader. The intended psychological setting of the story is made quite clear through the narrators voicing’s about the railway trench as he enters it “I found a rough zigzag descending path notched out which I followed” and “left the natural world”. This suggests that the narrator has descended in to some sort of dark underworld because there is “so little sunlight” and that it is unnatural and ungodly.