The Signalman Essay, Research Paper
The Signalman is a short story, which brings up great suspense and tension throughout the story, mainly through the main characters, the signalman and the narrator.
At the beginning of the story the atmosphere is quite dull. The tension and suspense really starts to increase when the narrator first meets the signalman.
The narrator first tries to start the conversation by asking the signalman if there was a path in which he could come down to talk to him. There was a calm atmosphere and a high amount of tension and suspense just after the narrator asks the signalman for a path down. This suspense is broken when the train comes.
The narrator is introduced to us as curious and inquisitive.
He looked up at me without replying, and I looked down at him too soon with a repetition of my idle question
The narrator seems to have had a sheltered background and has now developed a new interest in the railway; this could also link us to the time when the story was written, in Dickens time.
The narrator develops a curious interest in the life of the signalman; we trace the course of his regular visits. At first he questions himself whether the signalman is in fact human.
The monstrous thought came to my mind as I perused the fixed eyes and the saturnine face, that this was a spirit, not a man.
As he learns more about him he begins to question his state of mind.
I have speculated since, whether there may have been infection in his mind
He is amazed at his sudden death at the end of the story.
Signalman killed this morning, sir
Not the man belonging to that box?
Not the man I know?
O! How did this happen. How did this happen?
The signalman is introduced as a lonely, solitary figure.
His post was in as solitary and dismal a place as ever I saw.
His environment seems to reflect his character.
I resumed my downward way, and, stepping out upon the level of the railroad and drawing nearer to him, saw that he was a dark sallow man, with a dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows
Even his language has deteriorated from lack of communication.
He had taught himself a language down here
He has an educated background but has chosen this life.
He took me into his box, where there was a fire, a desk for an official book in which he had spoken. On my trusting that he would excuse the remark that he had been well educated, and perhaps educated above the station
The signalman is very tearful.
I believe I used to be so , he rejoined, in a low voice in which he had first spoken: but I am troubled, sir, I am troubled
This fear has resulted in deterioration of his state of mind.
His physical appearance seems to leaflet his state of mind.
I saw he was a dark man with a dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows and a low voice
Throughout the story there is not much communication between the narrator and the signalman.
The real tension and suspense builds up as the story progresses.
Dickens gives the reader information through the language of the story, which is very descriptive.
There came a vague vibration in the earth and air changing into a violent pulsation and an oncoming rush
The ending is very dull and gloomy; the suspense is created when the narrator prolongs the death of the signalman.
Overall I thought the story had really become alive through the characters and the suspense and tension caused by them.
I felt the main character who was in the heart of the story was the signalman, his emotions made the story what it is.