The Signalman by Charles Dickens and Harry by Rosemary Timperley
After reading ‘The Signalman’ by Charles Dickens and ‘Harry’ byRosemary Timperley, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer’Harry’. Both stories, however, are brilliantly written ghost storieswith well-created atmospheres and plots that create tension andsuspense.
‘The Signalman’, by Charles Dickens, is a pre-20th century story whichis set in the 1800’s. It takes place by a train line and in a signalbox which is occupied by the signalman. In the story the signalmanbefriends a man and later confides in him that he has seen an’appearance’ at the entrance to the train tunnel. He tells the man,who is the narrator of the story, that after he has seen theappearance something bad has always happened. After the firstsighting, a train crash took place where a number of people died and,after the second sighting, a young lady died whilst on a train. Thesignalman then explains that he has recently seen the appearance againand is worried what might happen. He is scared – trying to answerquestions as to what the appearance is trying to tell him and why ithas chosen him to visit. He can answer none of these questions andknows that something tragic will happen that he has no control over.The narrator returns to the signalman the next morning but finds thathe is dead. A group of men explain to him that the signalman was runover by a train that morning. We then learn that the ‘spectre’ or’appearance’ was warning the signalman of his own death as the actionsand shouts of the train driver match exactly the spectre’s. Thisdramatic and unexpected ending proves …
…rry’is particularly clever as the last paragraph is exactly the same asthe beginning. However, at the end this paragraph is more clear and weunderstand it a lot more.
The stories are similar in another way. Both Mrs James and thesignalman feel alone and they cannot tell anyone else how they feelbecause they will not be believed. Mrs James said:
‘He thought I was going ’round the bend”
Both her husband and her daughter are moving further and further awayfro her.
In conclusion, I feel that both stories are brilliantly written ghoststories with well created atmospheres and plots that create tensionand suspense. However, I prefer ‘Harry’ because the language is morefamiliar and accessible. The story has a brilliant story line whichkeeps the reader full of suspense and the end is a very good twist