Short Stories

Essay by sumeetbanker March 2004

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We looked at four short stories pre twentieth century; I have chosen to write a essay about three out of the possible four. 'The Monkeys Paw' by W.W Jacobs, 'The Withered Arm' By Hardy and 'The Signal Man' By Charles Dickens. Each of the stories is of mystery and supernatural events. I am going to compare and contrast each story and state which one I consider to be most effective and why? To write a good mystery story it is essential to create an effective atmosphere, each story does this in a slightly different way.

Each story has a consignment of unexplained events. In 'The Monkeys Paw' the third wish of the first man.

"I don't know what the first two ere, but the third was for death"

This gives the reader an open thought, we imagine what lead him to wish for death which builds up tension and the mystery starts from the beginning and gradually builds up.

However in 'The Withered Arm' the disappearance of Rhoda is very uncanny.

"In the spring she and her boy disappeared

from the neighbourhood of Holmestoke"

We are not sure why she disappears, maybe it is a sense of guilt, or maybe it is what she overhead when Mrs Lodge went to see the Conjuror Trendle. Nevertheless this is slightly different form the unexplained events in 'The Monkeys Paw' as we know that Rhoda is directly involved in the problem and state of Mrs Lodge arm, but we do not know how she was able to do so. This leads us to believe that she has supernatural powers. However we are not certain and it gives the story a sense of mystery. Although both stories have more mysterious events 'The Signal Man' is more dramatic as it...