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    ‘The Red Room’ written by H.G.Wells and ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ by Ray Bradbury Essay

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    ‘The Red Room’ written by H.

    G. Wells and ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ by Ray Bradbury are two stories that try to build up fear in their readers. Each story attempts to create and exploit the sense of fear in various ways to sustain the reader’s interest. ‘The Red Room’ was written in 1896.

    Wells uses the characters, setting, beliefs and the use of archaic language to demonstrate this. In the time that ‘The Red Room’ was written there was no electricity. This meant that the large rooms and long corridors that were lit with candles and firelight created an eerie atmosphere. The flickering candlelight caused shadows to move.

    This movement may have been one reason why so many people believed in ghosts and spirits. ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ was set in the 1950’s. In this era there was electricity, which meant there was light both inside and outside. Bradbury uses this to his advantage, contrasting the lightness of the town and the darkness of the ravine.

    In "The Whole Town"s Sleeping" there is no mention of ghosts. They assume the Lonely One is a person because of the physical evidence he leaves behinds, whereas in "The Red Room" Wells capitalizes on peoples fear of the ghost to build up tension.Also in "The Whole Town"s Sleeping" their social activities and groups were very different. It was not unusual for the women to go out and socialise and live alone, whereas in the time "The Red Room" was set, it was rare for people to live alone.

    In ‘The Red Room’ the plot is composed of the narrator who is the main character. The reader is not told anything about the narrator or his background. “I can assure you’ said I. ” Wells uses the anonymous narrator in the first person perspective so the readers can place themselves in the narrators place.

    This builds up the anxiety in the reader because it is as if it is happening to them. In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ the plot is based around Lavinia who is the main character. ‘On her solitary porch, Lavinia Nebbs, aged thirty-seven, very straight and slim, sat with a twinkling lemonade in her white fingers, tapping to her lips, waiting. ‘ Dissimilarly to Wells, Bradbury uses the third person perspective.

    This means the reader does not know the characters thoughts but still it is like the reader is there with the characters watching the story unfold. Both authors use the different perspectives effectively.Continuing ‘The Red Room’s’ plot, the narrator appears to be a ghost hunter of some sort. He meets the old caretakers and seems to be going to investigate a supposed haunted room, the red room.

    ‘If,’ said I, ‘you will show me to this haunted room of yours, I will make myself comfortable there. The elderly people warn the narrator but are vague. ‘This night of all nights! ‘ The narrator leaves to examine the room. A vast proportion of ‘The Red Room’ is the journey from the caretaker’s room to the red room.

    The tension rises on the journey as Wells describes the long echoing corridors and dancing shadows.The long, draughty, subterranean passage was chilly and dusty and my candle flared and made the shadows cower and quiver. ‘ The tension rises at various points along the way. At one point the narrator thinks he hears a noise.

    ‘…Listening to a rustling that I fancied I heard…’ This builds the sense of fear by perhaps misleading the reader into thinking the narrator is not alone. There is another high-tension point on the journey where again the narrator stops abruptly. ‘…And gave me the impression of someone crouching to waylay me. ‘ All the sounds and movements described create the illusion the narrator is not entirely alone.

    The narrator investigates the red room and the tension reaches it’s highest as he is suspiciously knocked out. The story concludes the next morning. In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ plot, Lavinia meets her friends with the original plan of visiting the cinema. Alike in ‘The Red Room’, Lavinia is warned by an elderly person.

    ‘Won’t catch me out on no night like this. ‘ Lavinia and her friend, Francine, disregard the warnings and continue on their journey. The warnings in both ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ and ‘The Red Room’ create a sense of fear because they notify the reader that there is something to be afraid of.On their way to meet their third companion, Lavinia and Francine come across the dead body of Eliza Ramsell.

    ‘The woman lay as is she were floating there, her face moon-freckled, her eyes like white marble, her tongue clamped in her lips. ‘ The imagery used paints a picture in the readers’ mind of Eliza, dead. Lavinia and Francine carry on to meet Helen and then go on to the drug store. The tension mounts as various characters are introduced.

    Bradbury uses these characters as miscellaneous suspects. ‘Got you! ‘ Tom Dillon is one character introduced who pretends to be the Lonely One.Fear is build because the reader is unsure of who he is to begin with. The three the go on to the cinema, where Helen makes a commotion over another suspect.

    After the cinema they return to the drugstore, then subsequently home. In the same way as Wells, Bradbury uses this long circular journey to make the atmosphere and setting seem tense. ‘There were a thousand people in the windows, stiff and silent, and three people on the street, the echoes following like gun shots when they tapped their heels on the oven baked pavement. After Lavinia has walked Francine and Helen home she is left to cross the ‘deep, deep and black, black’ ravine alone.

    The story ends when Lavinia gets home and the reader is left to deduce what has happened. ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ is set in a ‘little town’ ‘in the middle of Illinois country’, America.The description of the setting at the beginning of the story displays to the reader that it is set in America. ‘In the downtown drugstore, fans whispered in the high ceiling air.

    In the rococo shade of porches, invisible people sat. Bradbury uses these descriptions to create a lazy and relaxed atmosphere and to show life is as usual. This builds up the confidence of the reader whereas Wells introduces the theme of fear from the start. ‘The Red Room’ is set in ‘Lorraine Castle.

    ‘ This appears to be an old Victorian building in Britain. To begin with the narrator is in a room with a fire and the old people. The reader is informed this is ‘the housekeepers room’.’I half suspected the old people were trying to enhance the spiritual terrors of their house by their droning insistence.

    Immediately Wells has created a gloomy, lonely and heavy atmosphere to intimidate the readers. As ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ is an almost circular route, there is plentiful description of the places the characters visit. There is a lot of contrast within the story between light and dark. The drugstore is fairly well lit, this increases the confidence of the reader once again.

    Alternatively the cinema is dimly lit. ‘In the dim auditorium, as they sat in the odour of ancient brass polish, the manager appeared…’ The dim lighting results in poor vision, causing Helen to panic and make a scene.There is also a lot of description of the contrasting temperature. ‘I’m cold.

    Oh, I’ve never been so cold since winter. ‘ The coldness creates fear because the reader may associate it with death and strange goings on. The extreme cold temperature also composes a nervous and uncertain atmosphere. ‘Lavinia felt the warm breath of the summer night shimmering off the oven-baked sidewalk…the heat pulsed under your dress and along your legs with a stealthy sense of invasion.

    ‘ The similes and metaphors Bradbury uses to portray the heat create a heavy, sultry atmosphere.Dissimilarly, Wells does not refer to temperature often. Although just as Bradbury, Wells uses the journey to his advantage, with a large amount of description. ‘…For the moonlight coming in by the great window on the grand staircase picked out everything in vivid black shadow or silvery illumination.

    ‘ This particular description makes the setting seem unearthly and eerie. The two main settings are somewhat analogous.In ‘The Red Room’, the red room is a dark place, filled with flickering dancing shadows, which the narrator tries to overcome by lighting more candles. There were two big mirrors in the room, each with a pair of sconces bearing candles, and on the mantel shelf, too, were more candles in china candle sticks.

    All these I lit one after the other. ‘ The confidence of the reader rises and cowers in the red room as the narrator’s does. ‘…I still found the remoter darkness of the place, and it’s perfect stillness, too stimulating for the imagination. ‘ Again in ‘The Red Room’ Wells describes the setting as abnormal and peculiar.

    In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ the ravine is also described as a dark and frightening place. ‘…

    She whispered to the ravine, to the black crickets and dark green frogs and the black stream. ‘ The tension reaches it’s highest in the red room and in the ravine, as this is where both main characters are driven to panicking hysterically here. The physical state of the places affects their emotional state. The structure of the two stories is similar in places but also variable.

    In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ opening there is a description of the town, heat and Lavinia. ‘In the town the sidewalks still scorched. ‘ The laid back atmosphere raises the self-assurance of the reader.Life appears to be as usual in Illinois.

    Lavinia and Francine meet and conversation of the Lonely One passes between them after grandma Hanolin warns them, ‘Won’t catch me out on no night like this. ‘ ‘Just the same, Hattie McDollis was killed a month ago. And Roberta Ferry the month before. And now Eliza Ramsell has disappeared…’ The deaths mentioned build fear because they suggest the Lonely One may be around.

    In ‘The Red Room’ opening, the plot and the theme of fear are introduced immediately with warnings, conversation and descriptions of the old people. ‘It’s your own choosing. The narrator meets each of the elderly people, the man with the withered arm, the man with the shade and the old woman. ‘…And the door creaked on its hinges…’ The mood is promptly odd and peculiar.

    The hostility continues to build as the old people repeat their warnings.’I said – it’s your own choosing. ‘ In both ‘The Red Room’ and ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ the main characters relate to the past. In ‘The Red Room’ the narrator thinks of where his predecessor died.

    ‘Here it was, thought I, that my predecessor was found, and the memory of that story gave me a sudden twinge of apprehension. ‘…In which the young duke had died. Or, rather, in which he had begun his dying, for he had opened the door and fallen headlong down the steps I had just ascended. ‘ The thoughts of others dying where the narrator was standing cause uneasiness in the reader.

    In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping,’ Lavinia associates her experience with a childhood story. ‘Remember that old ghost story you told each other when you were children? ‘ The effects of recalling this story are unforeseen. Lavinia scares herself so much she screams and creates the illusion that there was a man under the light.Both flashbacks make the main characters fearful.

    The middle of the two stories are mainly the journeys made. In ‘The Red Room’ the narrator travels to and enter the red room. ‘I entered, closed the door behind me at once. ‘ The apprehension increases as he checks the room and adds candles for reassurance.

    All through this part of the story the reader is informed of the narrators thoughts. ‘By this time I was in a state of considerable nervous tension…

    ‘ This mounts the tension because the reader knows that the narrator is now petrified. In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ middle, various suspects are introduced.All the minor characters cause uncertainty. Tom Dillon creates fear because we are not shown who he is at first.

    ‘Hey, I’m the Lonely One. ‘ This is the same with the man in the cinema and the children. Through the middle of the story, as the three make their journey, Helen and Francine are continuously nervous. Their actions do not appear to affect Lavinia until nearer the ending.

    There were lots of small climaxes throughout the stories. In ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ the first is as they find Eliza dead, the next is the children. ‘I am the Lonely One. I kill people,’ and then Tom Dillon.

    Both these two characters impersonate the Lonely One, which builds the fear. In ‘The Red Room’, there are also a few small climaxes, building up to the main climax. For example when the narrator hears a noise. ‘…Listening to a rustling I fancied I heard…’ This creates fear in the reader because it gives the impression he is not alone.

    The two main climaxes in ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ are Lavinia crossing the ravine, panicking and thinking someone is following her. ‘Faster. Faster. She went down the steps.

    Run! ‘ and when Lavinia reaches home and thinks she is safe, but it is a false illusion.The highest point of tension in ‘The Red Room’ happens in the red room, as the candles start to go out and do not relight. The narrator panics, frantically trying to relight them, ‘…candle in the alcove suddenly went out… …The flame vanished, as if the wicks had been suddenly nipped between a finger and thumb…’ Again Wells is describing it as if the narrator is not alone, leaving the reader to wonder whether there is a ghost or not. The ending of ‘The Red Room’ is totally different to the rest of the story.

    There is no tension at all, it seems to have returned to reality.It is the next morning and the narrator with the elderly people. He slowly recovers his memory and contemplates what had happened. The ending is still quite ambiguous even though the narrator gives an explanation.

    Was the narrator knocked out from falling down, or was he hit over the head? ‘There is neither a ghost of earl nor a ghost of countess in that room…’ The twist in the story is that they believe it not to be a ghost, but ‘Black Fear. ‘ This is the point at which Wells seems to let us know why he wrote the story, to show there was no ghosts in this incident – only fear.The ending of ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ is also ambivalent, but much more of a cliffhanger. The reader is drawn into a false sense of security.

    ‘Home. Oh, safe at home. Safe, safe and safe at home…Safe, safe. Listen.

    Not a sound. Safe, safe, oh thank God, safe at home. ‘ Lavinia thinks she is home safely and that all is fine, this really builds the assurance of the reader. But there is also, as in ‘The Red Room’, a twist to the story.

    ‘What’she asked. What? What? Behind her, in the black living-room, someone cleared his throat…’ The reader is left to assume the ending.Is it the Lonely One awaiting Lavinia, or is it a family member or friend? And also the reader is left to speculate if it was the Lonely One, who is he? There is a vast amount of descriptive language throughout both stories. Wells successfully uses his dense description of the elderly people to give them frightening features.

    ‘…A second man entered, more bent, more wrinkled, more aged even than the first…and his lower lip, half averted, hung pale and pink from his decaying yellow teeth. ‘ The effect here makes the reader inhospitable in return to the old people. Their very existence was spectral; the cut of their clothing, fashions born in dead brains. ‘This makes the elderly people seem very old fashioned.

    The archaic expressions and dialect inform the reader of the period in which the story is set. ‘…And eight and twenty years you have lived and never seen the likes of this house, I reckon. ‘ The narrative voice and dialogue are much more formal in ‘The Red Room’ than in ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping. ‘ ‘Hattie McDollis walked off with a travelling man, I bet.

    ‘But the others – strangled – four of them, their tongues sticking out their mouths, they say. This is a bit of typical conversation passing between Lavinia and Francine. It shows the characters are relaxed with each other. Bradbury also uses imagery, but more often than Wells.

    ‘In the downtown drugstore, fans whispered in the high ceiling air. ‘ ‘They called back through the soft ocean of darkness. ‘ The personification sets the atmosphere as cool making the reader more confident so the later scare seems more intense. The metaphor also emphasizes the soft darkness.

    Bradbury uses plenty of descriptive language about the town. ‘The little town was deep far away from everything, kept to itself by a river and a forest and a ravine. This description sets the scene. It is relaxing and calm and makes the characters seem distant from the town.

    In Lavinia’s dialogue her braveness comes across. ‘Bosh… Lets walk the short cut.’ There are about eight minor characters in "The Whole Town"s Sleeping". Each individually adds to the fear.

    The first character we meet is Francine. ‘Francine sobbed again and walked on. ‘ Francine is doubting and easily upset, she screams and cries often. This fragile character adds to the anxiety because she reminds the reader there is something to be scared of.

    Other characters we meet are the children. …A voice was murmuring, ‘I am the lonely one…and I’m Eliza Ramsell. ‘The children are frightening characters to begin with because we are dubious of whom they are. They bring back memories of the dead Eliza Ramsell.

    Next introduced is Helen. Alike Francine she is also doubting and very negative. ‘Helen turned slowly and glanced back. ‘I’m calling the manager… Stop the film! Lights! ‘ Helen made a big commotion in the cinema, after being over cautious.

    Tom Dillon is a very alarming character to the reader for several reasons. ‘A shadow fell across their faces. A figure loomed. Again the reader is unsure of whom he is.

    Tom Dillon portrays himself as the Lonely One.’Hey, I’m the Lonely One! ‘ Bradbury uses him to again remind us the Lonely One is still out there and could be anyone. He causes the three women to panic and fuss. The druggist brings news to the three women that a man was asking after Lavinia.

    He is cautious with what he says. ‘I heard a minute ago, I suddenly thought, what’ve I done! ‘ This makes the women paranoid, which makes the reader paranoid. To me the druggist is a very probable suspect, for instance how did he know about Eliza Ramsell being dead so soon after the incident?The man in the suit, who is the theatre manager’s brother, is a very menacing character to Helen. The fear has built up in her mind and this is where it comes across to the reader.

    Officer Kennedy is also a very traumatic character to Lavinia and the reader. ‘The man was singing Shine on Harvest Moon, and he carried a long club in his hand. ‘ Officer Kennedy is introduced when Lavinia is alone and he carried a long club that she assumed was a weapon. ‘Yes, she thought, but I won’t walk the ravine with any man.

    How do I know who the Lonely One is? ‘ When Lavinia realises who he is she still cannot be sure or safe.Total paranoia is established. The minor character that links between the two different stories is Grandma Hanolin. In "The Whole Town"s Sleeping" Grandma Hanolin introduces the plot, she announces to the reader that life is not as usual.

    ‘Won’t catch me out on no night like this, wailed Grandma Hanolin, Not with the Lonely One strangling women. Lock myself in with my gun! ‘ Grandma is comparable to the old woman, the man with the withered arm and the man with the shade because she is an elderly character and alike the old people in "The Red Room" she warns the main character.In "The Red Room", Wells only introduces 3 other characters. Each of these exclusively adds to the fear.

    The first we meet is ‘the man with the withered arm. ‘ He seems to be hostile and unfriendly. ‘It is your own choosing, said the man with the withered arm, and glanced at me askance. ‘ He repeats ‘It is your own choosing’ three times.

    This warning creates a tense unwelcoming atmosphere. Another character we meet is ‘the old woman. ‘ ‘The old woman sat staring hard into the fire, her pale eyes wide open…a many thing to see and sorrow for. ‘ The woman’s colourless eyes give the reader the impression she has seen a ghost.

    She also repeats a warning, ‘This night of all nights! ‘ Their vague warnings make the reader dubious. The most frightening character is ‘the man with the shade. ‘ He is introduced with the spooky noise of his stick and a shambling step on the flags. Wells uses a dense description to describe him, giving him abnormal looks.

    ‘…More bent, more wrinkled, more aged even than the first. He supported himself by a single crutch, his eyes were covered by a shade, and his lower lip, half averted, hung pale and pink from his decaying yellow teeth. ‘ The man’s queer looks help the reader to realise how peculiar the whole scene is.The three characters words, actions and looks affect the reader.

    ‘The three of them made me feel uncomfortable, and with their gaunt silences, their bent carriage, their evident unfriendliness to me and to one another. ‘ This also makes the reader feel uncomfortable, as if the old people are almost rejecting them. The elderly people also seem to be curious as to why exactly he is there. ‘…And threw his head back for a moment and sideways, to see me.

    ‘ The next morning the people behave totally different to the narrator, creating a friendlier more relaxed atmosphere. He spoke no longer as one who greets an intruder, but as one who grieves for a broken friend. ‘ The old people seem concerned, agreeable and willing to listen, but also still a bit reserved. They clarify their own ideas and show acceptance on the narrator’s idea that it is fear.

    The two main characters, Lavinia and the narrator, tend to be very similar throughout the story. Their confidence rises and mounts at various points, causing the readers firmness to do the same. ‘Lavinia Nebbs, aged thirty-seven…’ The reader is given information on Lavinia to make them confident. Bradbury portrays Lavinia as a strong, confident character.

    I insist. I won’t go home and brood over it. I won’t think of it.I’ll fill my mind with everything else but.

    ‘ She is very sure of herself boosting the reader’s self-assurance. ‘Lavinia, as cool as mint ice cream, took the other woman’s arm and led her down the winding path…’ Lavinia appears a very laid back but sometimes seems to show-off. ‘I can see a thing and tell myself I never saw it, that’s how strong I am. ‘ In "The Red Room" the narrator also appears a very confident character.

    ‘I can assure you, said I, that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me. The reader is not given any background information on the narrator, except he is twenty-eight years of age. This allows the readers to position themselves in the narrators place. We are not even told if the narrator is a male or a female, but looking at the historical and social background of the time the story was set I assume it is a man.

    In "The Whole Town"s Sleeping" and in "The Red Room", both Lavinia and the narrator ignore the elderly peoples warnings. The two characters confidence inclines and declines throughout the story.Their courage is high to begin with then rapidly decreases at the end. In "The Red Room" the narrator enters the red room clear minded.

    ‘I resolved to make a systematic examination of the place at once…’ Similarly in "The Whole Town"s Sleeping", Lavinia enters the ravine optimistically. ‘Three minutes from now, she thought, I’ll be putting my key in my house door. Nothing can happen in just one hundred and eighty seconds. ‘ This again builds the confidence of the reader, but as soon as the reader sees the character begin to panic, they will do the same.

    Lavinia becomes hysterical. ‘She heard music. In a mad way, a silly way, she heard the huge surge of music that pounded at her, and she realized as she ran – as she ran in panic and terror…’ In the same way, the narrator in "The Red Room" finds the whole scenario overwhelming. ‘I flung out my arms in a vain effort to thrust that ponderous blackness away from me, and, lifting up my voice, screamed with all my might…’ The main characters’ panicking so madly creates a huge rush of fear for the reader.

    Throughout the two stories, the characters both treat their situations as adventures and are determined to overcome any fears they may have. ‘The Lonely One’ in "The Whole Town"s Sleeping" is the main cause for so much fear. The Lonely One is an anonymous character, no one has seen him knows anything about him. The Lonely One not being visible creates tension.

    The characters in the story know the Lonely One is not a ghost and exists because of the physical manifestation he leaves behind.In "The Red Room" the supposed ghost, eventually believed to be ‘black fear’ is the main cause for the theme of fear. It is unknown whether the ‘ghost’ exists, and alike in "The Whole Town"s Sleeping" tension is composed by it not being visible. I think the authors H.

    G. Wells and Ray Bradbury both successfully created a sense of fear in their readers. Although the stories were very different, they set out to compose this fear in the same ways. For example both authors used minor characters to warn the main characters, they both had a similar structure and both used plenty of descriptive language.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    ‘The Red Room’ written by H.G.Wells and ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’ by Ray Bradbury Essay. (2018, May 24). Retrieved from

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