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The first gothic novel was produced in the late 18th and early 19th century. Horace Walpole was said to have been the first gothic novelist in history, he wrote an important prototype called ‘The Castle Of Otranto’, which established a parallel fashion for the gothic in literature. Horace Walpole became a forerunner for writers such as: Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, Stephen king and many more. Gothic novels often rely on eerie medieval externals such as old castles, monasteries and hidden trapdoors for symbolism. This genre is said to give its reader a sense of thrill and exhilarating rush, which is why it is so popular today.


The traditional horror writing developed during the 19th century. George Crabbe describes gothic horrors as ‘a type of story of the macabre and supernatural that had immense popularity during the late 18th and 19th century’s’. Gothic literature began to burn itself out and largely disappear during the 19th century, however its elements have managed to survive today in horror movies and ‘pulp novels’.


Normally horror stories begin with setting the scene, for instance, an eerie old castle or a daunting grim graveyard. Ray Bradbury sets the scene of his first paragraph in a non-horrific way by using words such as river, forest and ravine which would not usually be used for a horror setting, H.G.Wells on the other hand sets the scene by using dialogue to introduce characters. He uses his first character to set the scene by saying, ‘That it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me’ states that their there may be ghost introduced later on the story which causes suspense due to the fact that you don’t know exactly when a ghost may appear.


The settings in each of these stories are very different; one uses dialogue to set the scene while the other uses alliteration, personifocation and metaphors. ‘The Red Room’ is set in a traditional horror setting; however, ‘The Whole Towns Sleeping’ does not use this typical technique for example; ‘warm summer night’. The way in which H.G.Wells uses language to create a disturbing atmosphere enhances the tension and suspense in the story and draws the reader in. Ray Bradbury creates little tension by using language that creates a soothing and light-hearted atmosphere.


Main characters in a horror story usually follow the stereotypical view, which is either finding trouble or surviving. H.G.Wells main characters do not follow the label, but instead their attitudes affect tension in the story. The man with the withered arm in H.G.Wells story creates tension by informing the other character that it is no longer a ghost free zone. Ray Bradbury’s characters create tension by mentioning past disasters, which makes the reader feel as if something strange is happening.


Ray Bradbury uses language to create tension in the most fascinating parts of his story. By using repetition he creates a eerie and isolated atmosphere which builds up an impressive amount of tension, also he rhetorical questions to make his characters question themselves for example: Lavinia says “Nothing’s happened, has it?” and “No one around, is there?” which states that she is concerned.

H.G.Wells uses language to create tension by making his character talk as if he was reiterating the story. He creates such a tense atmosphere by using words such as ‘penumbra, self-possession, sombre and more which indicates that there is something strange happening. However he uses the same sort of language nearly all the way through so the build up of tension wasn’t that great, but also by doing this makes the reader petrified all the way through the story.


H.G.Wells closes his story by using language that gives out an spine-chilling vibe. The language that he uses also creates a stiff atmosphere by the way in which it is incorporated in the text making its reader frightened and anxious to know why there is evil in this house. H.G.Wells uses the phrase ” black fear, and there will be so long as this house of sin endures” which builds up suspense because he’s saying that as long as that spirit dwells there it is no longer safe and he’s also saying that the house is a sin because it can never get ride of the ghost that is permanently there.

Ray Bradbury on the other hands makes his character question herself by saying “Why there’s nothing there at all ! Nobody!” which gives effect because it makes her seem scared and unsure of herself, also he ends on a cliff-hanger which creates suspense because you don’t know how the story ends, so it makes the reader anxious to find out what will happen next.


The story I found to have the most impacted on me was “The Whole Towns Sleeping”, due to build of suspense and tension. Ray Bradbury started the story off in a non-horrific way by using light words that didn’t set a typical horror setting and by doing this ensuring that the exciting parts of the story was yet to come. I also found the way in which he finished his story was astounding because nobody really finishes their story by using a cliff-hanger. I found H.G.Wells’ story to be a tad bit boring because of how quickly the suspense and tension in the story was formed, but in saying that he drew me into his story much quicker than Ray Bradbury did.



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