‘The Red Room’ and ‘The Whole Town’s sleeping’
- Pages: 9
- Word count: 2118
- Category: Sleep
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After reading the stories, ‘The Red Room’ and ‘The Whole Town’s Sleeping’, it became immediately evident that both are intended to create a sense of fear and tension throughout, in order to maintain the interest of the reader. In this essay I will explain how both writers create the intended feel to their story and reveal the similarities and differences between the techniques they have used. The titles of both stories both immediately bring in a sense of fear and tension.
The Whole Town’s Sleeping” has an instant reference to the night: a time in which nobody is conscious to bring about safety, and a time in which darkness dominates the scene as only evil beings are meant to walk. The title, “The Red Room” also suggests a presence of evil. The colour red is instantly connected to blood and death in the mind of the reader and instantly brings about the subject of fear. Also, both titles mention a location: either a ‘town’ or a ‘room. ‘ The technique of mentioning evil within a certain place is used, in this case, to create a feeling of being trapped.
If the evil is only taking place in one small setting, then it is likely to be more dangerous as there is less physical protection and less land for the evil to reign within. Therefore, the title is not just informing the reader that within the story there is likely to be the presence of evil but it also infers that this particular evil is likely to be strong and dangerous. Consequently, both titles are used to instantly make an impact on the reader. Another technique both writers used is the idea of keeping a firm distance from the reader and the characters within the story.
Both writers do not give names to the some of the main characters within the story. For example, H G Wells refers to one of his characters as: “The man with the withered arm. ” Similarly, we never learn the name of the druggist or the first policeman in “The Whole Town’s Sleeping. ” This distance between the reader and the character allows the reader to have a wider outlook on the story. It allows the reader to judge the characters for themselves, which is a vital part of solving the mystery of the story.
Having a distance from the characters makes it harder for the reader to know whom to trust and therefore builds up the sense of fear and tension. Throughout the stories, the writers both use personification to create their intended mood. For example, Bradbury frequently personifies the drugstore clock and the ravine: “Weakly she asked the ravine” and “The drugstore clock said eleven twenty-five. ” These personifications emphasise the sense of fear and tension as it suggests that even inanimate objects are alive.
It demonstrates the power of the night. Also, Wells personifies the shadows and, more obviously, fear: “A monstrous shadow of him crouched upon the wall and mocked his action. ” In this example, the shadow is not only portrayed as being alive but is also portrayed as being evil. This instantly creates a sense of fear. Then, Wells uses the personification of a human emotion to have a very powerful affect on the reader: “Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms.
The idea that such a powerful evil could exist within the mind of a human immediately creates a strong feeling of tension. Also, to intensify the personification of things that would, in normal circumstances, not be alive, both writers contrast the representation of life with the representation of death. For example, Bradbury uses a moment in his story to emphasise the power of the night by using the variation of being alive and being dead: “Nor a car or truck or person was in sight. The bright lights were still lit in the small store windows where the hot wax dummies stood.
Their blank blue eyes watched as the ladies walked past them, down the night street. ” Here, there are no people about: there is no real life present in this setting. However, Bradbury personifies the wax dummies as if they are alive. He is portraying the alive as dead and the dead as alive. Although, he is not portraying the dummies as evil the idea that these lifeless objects have become real is very eerie and builds up the sense of tension. This along with the lack of life in the scene is a very powerful method.
Similarly, Wells uses the variation between the lifeless old characters that are introduced at the beginning of the story and the personification of other objects in the room. The old characters are described as being “inhuman in senility” and yet the shadows are described as being and acting human. This technique of making the dead seem alive and the alive seem dead is used to create a sense of wariness in the reader, as this idea is not something that will be familiar to them. This helps build up the sense of tension and fear within the story.
The writers both use their main character to create a sense of fear and tension in the story. For example, both the first person in “The Red Room” and Lavina in “The Whole Town’s Sleeping” are very strong-willed and determined. The first person does not listen to the continuous warnings from the old characters that the Red Room should not be entered on that particular night and not alone. “(“This night of all nights! ” said the old woman). ” However, this does not prevent them from going in the room. Similarly, Lavina does not listen to the warnings from both Helen and Francine, nor does she listen to the warning from Grandma Hanlon.
Bradbury especially uses his main character to create a sense of fear and tension as he suggests that Lavina indeed has a hidden desire to die, as she has a large craving for excitement – something that she has probably lacked throughout her life – “She felt nothing – except perhaps the slightest prickle of excitement” and, as said by Helen “Sometimes I think people want to die. ” This along with the suggestion that the killer – “The Lonely One” – preys on untainted women, maidens, and Lavina is described as being just that, intensifies the feeling of fear.
It immediately suggests that she is the next victim of the killer and builds up the tension in the later scenes when she is alone. Another method that both writers use which involves both main characters is the sense of being out of control. For example, in “The Whole Town’s sleeping”, when Lavinia is alone, her body starts playing tricks on her: “A man under the light! No, now he’s gone! ” Here, Lavinia’s fear is taking over her body and making her see things that aren’t really there.
This is a result of her telling herself the childhood story in her head, as she is walking alone, her mind already full of thoughts of the dead body and the idea that she may be the next victim of “The Lonely One”. The idea that the main character is in a fragile state makes them more vulnerable and also panics the reader. Wells also uses this technique, with the damage that the character in “The Red Room” manages to do to himself in the panic to escape the room: “I staggered back, turned, and was either struck or struck myself against some bulky furniture” and “I turned my head involuntarily. Again, the distressed and fearful state of the main character makes the reader more wary. It builds up the sense of fear and tension as the characters are in a more delicate condition and therefore are more easily harmed. The idea of the main character being out of control is intensified by the way they are portrayed before they are struck by panic.
For example, before the character in “The Red Room” is alone in the room he is very confident and strongly opinionated: ‘”I can assure you,’ said I, ‘that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me. Even at the very beginning of the story the character is seen as being an unlikely person to be afraid. Likewise, Lavinia is portrayed as being a brave risk-taking maiden with little to lose: “”Oh, bosh the police’ Lavinia laughed. ‘I’m not afraid of anything. ‘” Both Bradbury and Wells have portrayed their main characters as being fearless, so when the reader sees the characters struck with panic they instantly know that the force against them is very powerful. The sense of fear and tension is strongly built up in the complete change in the behaviour of both individuals.
Both writers use the idea of ‘nicknames’ to demonstrate the evil is the story. For example, the haunted room is called “The Red Room” and the brutal killer is called: “The Lonely One. ” The use of identification in the form of a nickname suggests that both evils are talked about and therefore must be worth fearing. This builds up fear and tension as it infers that other people have experienced the evils in the past and there is consequently a history to the presence of both, which we are unaware.
Another technique that Bradbury and Wells both use in their stories to build up a sense of fear and tension is imagery. Such images as the tongues of the victims of the Lonely One “sticking out their mouths” are very powerful for the reader. Wells uses good imagery when introducing the three old characters at the beginning of the story: “He supported himself by a single crutch, his eyes were covered b a shade, and his lower lip, half averted, hung pale and pink from his decaying yellow teeth. ” This image is very eerie and sets the scene for that particular moment.
I think the most powerful use of imagery in “The Whole Town’s sleeping” is with the image of the dead body and the neon sign: “In the singing deep night, back among a clump of bushes – half hidden, but laid out as if she had put herself down there to enjoy the soft stars – lay Eliza Ramsell. ” This image demonstrates the peacefulness and innocence of the dead victim. The idea of her being laid out instantly suggests the idea of human contact. This in contrast with the purity of the stars above her creates a very powerful moment.
It creates a sense of tension as it gives the reader a clear vision of the dead body. “A red neon sign flickered dimly, buzzing like a dying insect. They walked past it. ” This image signifies the idea of death with a struggle. The redness of the sign associates to blood and the fact it is ‘flickering like a dying insect’ sets a powerful image. To intensify the moment Bradbury points out the fact that the three maidens simply walk past this sign without a thought about what it might suggest.
This builds up a sense of fear and tension because it helps the reader predict what is to come in the story. Signs are also used throughout “The Red Room” to build up suspense and drama. For example, before the women have even reached the theatre they have already discovered the body of Eliza Ramsell, been scared twice by both children and Tom Dillon pretending to be the Lonely One and warned that a mysterious man in a suit was informed of where Lavinia lives.
These signs really build up the sense of fear and tension as it suggests that the women is very likely to be caught out after so many warnings. However, Wells does not use many signals to suggest what is to come. Only the old characters at the beginning warn the main character away from the Red Room. After that, the character is alone. In a very different way, this builds up the sense of fear and tension, as the reader is totally unaware of what will happen.
Despite all the similarities in all the different techniques used by both writers, I think the most alike aspect of both stories is the message both contains. Both stories demonstrate the power of the human mind and how open a person can be to their own fears. It shows the extreme way a human’s body, mind, and natural qualities can be affected in response to their own fear and wild imagination, no matter how strong-minded the person. This meaning gives the reader a complete sense of fear and tension, as the idea of evils existing within your mind is certainly very worrying.