How Dickens creates atmosphere in the opening of "The Signalman" by referring to the way he describes location.

Essay by gouddHigh School, 12th gradeA+, January 2006

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The dark oppressive atmosphere which is created by the description used by Dickens in the opening of "The Signalman" to show the conditions of the railway cutting in which the signalman works uses sinister vocabulary to build a vivid impression of the insufferable conditions. The vocabulary used often contains long vowel sounds such as "oozing" and "gloomy" which creates an air of depression and evil atmosphere throughout the story.

Dickens has also written The Signalman with a Gothic Style, using Gothic vocabulary such as "barbarous" and "saturnine" which adds the mysterious and oppressive atmosphere. Dickens also uses the metaphor of a dungeon to describe the precipitous nature of the cutting with its damp earthy smell.

Dickens also uses a very Dantesque style with various references to Dante's Inferno with death and spirits and the descent down the jagged zigzag path down to the signal box. "As if I had left the natural world."

And were descending to the depths of hell with its forbidding air.

The Signalman also contains prophetic fallacy throughout and Dickens uses this device to express the feelings of the signalman. There is very little light and the cutting is damp and uninhabitable with a bitter wind. This then changes with the death of the signalman to being a warm and light place in which people are no longer afraid to venture, as if the signalman himself was creating the air of depression. It is like the signalman was being punished by the weather and now he has fulfilled his punishment the bleak weather has lifted.

Another Dantesque feature that Dickens uses is the dislocation of the narrator from the real world to a "supernatural feeling sublevel" where there is the suggestion of death and destruction. The whole trench has the eerie red glow of...