Atmosphere In Charles Dickens' The Signalman
Atmosphere in Charles Dickens' The Signalman
'The Signal-man' is a ghostly thriller by Charles Dickens. Based on an
apparently hallucinating signal-man and the tales of his
hallucinations, the story is seen through the eyes of the narrator, a
man told of the signal-mans troubles during conversations with the
signal-man himself. From the beginning of the story, the atmosphere is
both eerie and gloomy.
To produce this type of atmosphere, Dickens had to draw on several
different aspects of English literature-mostly through description and
use of language. The setting is described meticulously, producing
vivid images in the mind of the reader. For example, when the narrator
and the signal-man first encounter each other, the strange, mysterious
atmosphere is set already.
"â€¦his figure wasâ€¦down in the deep trench, and mine was high above him,
so steeped in the glow of an angry sunsetâ€¦"
This indicates that their first meeting is at the onset of night.
Also, the signal-mans station is very low down, making it quite
difficult to contact him.
The narrator later asks the signal-man if he can "come down and
speak". The signal-man points out a path described thus:
"The cutting was extremely deep, and unusually precipitate. Itâ€¦ became
oozier and wetter as I went down."
But this description is a mere hint of the stories tone in comparison
to the delineation of the signal-mans station. From this depiction,
the reader can easily visualise the setting.
"â€¦this great dungeonâ€¦terminating in a gloomy red light and a gloomier
entrance to a black tunnelâ€¦there was a barbarous, depressing and
forbidding air. So little sunlight ever found its way to this spot
that it had an earthy, dead smellâ€¦as if I had left the natural world."
A scary, haunting scene is produced. Almost the entire story takes
place in this setting, so the atmosphere is almost permanently tense
From there on, the story is mainly following a conversation between
the narrator and the signal-man. During their dialogue, there are
quite a few references to a fire in the 'cabin', which indicates that
it is quite dark. When their talk is over, they decide to meet again
at eleven the next night.
When the characters get to talking about the signal-mans first
encounter with the 'spectre', the signal-man describes the setting of
this experience fearfully.
"I stopped and held my lamp above my headâ€¦and saw the wet stains
stealing down the walls and trickling through the arch. I ran out
again, faster than I had run in (for I had a mortal abhorrence of the
place upon me)â€¦"
This quotation conveys the signal-mans feelings of fear and anxiety
Later on, when the men look for the spectre at the tunnel,
significance is put upon the mouth of the tunnel in a way that makes
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Suspense in The Signalman by Charles Dickens Essay
2305 Words10 Pages
Suspense in The Signalman by Charles Dickens
I am going to be studying "The Signalman" written by Charles Dickens in 1866. I will be looking at, and analysing, how he creates suspense in the story and how effective this is.
"The Signalman" is a short story written amidst an exciting time period in British History: the Victorian, Industrial Revolution. This was a time of great innovation and invention, a time of modernisation and a time of which many of the everyday items that we use today, were invented such as; telephones, toilets and trains. There were several influences to Dickens's story. A year previous to the story being written, Charles was himself was involved in a fatal train crash in…show more content…
The narrator is an unknown character, is presumed to be of a higher class, perhaps a doctor, than the signalman as the signalman refers to him as "sir". The story begins in first person, using direct speech from the narrator:
"Helloa below there!"
This speech is proved to be important later on in the story. Dickens uses the direct speech; in the first person as this creates little awareness. If the story were written in third person, Dickens would perhaps have to describe the person speaking, their surroundings and how they felt. The use of first person narrative creates an air of anonymity and suspense. First person allows only one point of view to be shown throughout the story so the readers are in suspense as the plot unfolds to the narrator. The use of direct speech persuades the reader to think about the story. They begin to ask themselves questions like 'who is speaking? Why are they speaking? And who are they speaking to?'.
Dickens writes the opening in such a way that the reader can interpret the plot in several ways. This is a trend that continues through the whole story. The one speaking, the narrator, is shouting to another character that doesn't reply. This is unusual behaviour and poses unanswered questions. These events could lead to numerous plots. The narrator could be a ghost and the other character