Novels such as TRR and TTTH were extremely popular during Victorian times, and some people think that this is partly a a reaction to the introduction of science during the period that was known as The Enlightenment. The scientific age taught that there was grounds for everything, and that emotions like fear should be repressed. Horror stories like these led to lots of the horror films that people watch in the cinema today, and folks liked them for the same reasons; being scared is exciting, and lets the person watching or reading experience this safely. Writers knew that individuals enjoyed the genre, and they also used a variety of ways to be sure that the interest of the reader was maintained, and they would want to reading more. Both Edgar Allen Poe and H. G. Wells use the original Gothic conventions to explore human fear and the power of the imagination, particularly using tension and anti-climax to make a thrilling rhythm.
I have browse the short stories TRR by HGW and TTTH by EAP, and in this article I hope to show how each author developed and maintained tension and suspense. Many of the methods are being used in both stories, and are based on standard Gothic conventions such as duality, the elements, the setting, concern with the unknown, the supernatural, mystery and dread; in addition they use metonyms for doom and gloom, such as doors slamming shut and gusts of wind blowing out lights.
In TTTH the strain starts with the first sentence, "TRUE! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous". The writer uses capital letters and exclamation marks to cause surprise and fear, and follows this with a brief, repetitive sentence. Then immediately draws the reader in by asking why they think he is mad, when evidently they had not had that thought themselves. The mood is approaching hysteria, which was a great fear in Victorian times. The author then mentions a lot of things that are opposite to each other, such as heaven and hell, day and night and the fact that although he had nothing against the old man in his story, the actual fact that he previously "the eye of an vulture" meant that he would have to kill him. After the tension is set up, the writer slows the pace by lengthening the sentences, but keeps the reader in circumstances of fear through his use of language. He is constantly on the repeat words "cautiously - oh, so cautiously - cautiously", making the narrator appear even more mad, even though he is trying to explain that he isn't. He provides very extreme description of the darkness inside the old man's room "black as pitch with the thick darkness", making the reader aware that it is under the cover of this darkness that the evil deed will take place.
The suspense starts to grow again when the narrator says that he made a mistake with the lantern, and this small sound woke up the old man. Neither of these moved for over one hour, and it almost feels like you are holding your breath with the two people in the storyline. After quite a while, the old man groans, and this gives rise to more hysterical thoughts by the narrator, the sentences slow again, and the language less staccato and incredibly dramatic "Death, in approaching him had stalked along with his black shadow before him", so the reader knows that something awful will happen soon. The momentum builds further as the narrator opens the lantern, which "fell full upon the vulture eye", and so that it is clear that the old man now also knows for several that he is in peril. The narrator becomes furious, and believes that they can hear the beat of the old man's heart. The rhythm of the work gets faster, choppy sentences and a lot of exclamation marks and even more repetition boost the excitement with the beat of the "hellish tattoo"; then the crescendo, "The old man's hour had come!" Some of the murder has ended in an instant, and this sudden drop away from extreme terror to the narrator saying that he "smiled gaily to find the deed so done" exaggerates the strain.
The next concern for the reader is set up murder will be discovered, and the writer increases this worry by describing the dismemberment of your body in quite graphic detail. The mood of the piece is changing again, with the description of "as dark as midnight" making method for "I transpired to open it (the entranceway) with a light heart" as the police arrive. The narrator takes the authorities on a very long journey through the home, asking them to "search - search well", which makes the reader become anxious about when or if indeed they will find the data of the old man's death. The language is calm which increases the impression of energy passing slowly. As the characters sit and talk, the narrator starts to obtain additional agitated; he is able to hear a strange noise getting closer. The pace picks up, the vocabulary starts to get more hysterical "I arose and argued about trifles, in a higher key and with violent gesticulations", it grows more repetitive, and the punctuation is packed with exclamation marks. It builds to some other climax, when the narrator says "I felt that I must scream or die! and now - again ! - hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!". The reader will be on the edge of the seat by now, wondering what on earth will happen next; which is immediately dropped out of this state of expectancy as the narrator shrieks his admission of guilt to the police, and the storyline comes to a sudden and dramatic close.
TRR starts in an identical fashion, with the piece being written in the first person so the reader can easily identify with them, and feel what they are going through. The physical scene is defined in more detail, with careful descriptions of the hideous features of the people mixed up in story, and the way the narrator felt about them. "The three of them made me feel uncomfortable with the gaunt silences, their bent carriage, their evident unfriendliness to me and to each other". He previously come to disprove a ghost story, and had not been afraid, but these "grotesque custodians" were affecting him a lot; which really helps to slowly learn to wind up the strain in the storyline. The language of the early section involves words such as withered, inhuman, senility, night, darkness, dead, haunted and evil, all of which add to the suspense, and are standard means of creating fear in this kind of novel.
As the narrator decides to go on to the Red Room, to discover more about the alleged haunting, the other characters appear to try to stop him, suggesting that is wii time for him to go there. "But if you go directly to the Red Room tonight - ", this sentence tails off, letting the reader imagine what the person might have been going to state. The old woman whispers "this night of all nights", so that the narrator leaves to continue his ghost hunt, the man with the withered arm says "It's your own choosing". So are there plenty of warnings, and the state of tension in the readers mind is maintained as the narrator cause "down the chilly, echoing passage". This passage is further described as "long and shadowy, with a film of moisture glistening on the wall, (was) as gaunt and cold as something is dead and rigid", which journey to the room employs many other words chosen to create all the fear as you can, talking about ghosts, omens, and witches. The writer also uses shadows, flickering candles, darkness and cold to great effect, making sure that the reader is anxious before the Red Room is even reached.
Arriving at the room itself, it is described as being in a "shadowy corner", and then a detailed description of the area and its contents is given. Again, the language is very imaginative, and this increases tension as the narrator tells us which it looks very frightening, and that "one could well understand the legends that had sprouted in its black corners, its germinating darkness". As he tells the reader about each item, the sense of waiting for something bad to happen is very strong. He mentions his "scientific attitude of mind", that was extremely popular in Victorian times, but destroys any confidence this might cause by saying that he caught sight of his own face in a mirror, and despite his rational approach, it was absolutely white. Now that he has admitted to being frightened, the narrator builds on this by describing how he tries to make himself safe in the area, by lighting candles, getting his gun ready, and making a barricade out of the table. He tells us that he's "in a state of considerable nervous tension", and goes out to obtain additional candles until the room is really as brightly lit as is feasible; then your wait begins.
The candles commence to go out, and it's even more frightening that they do so individually; a note of hysteria creeps into his voice as he starts to attempt to relight the candles, and he becomes panic stricken. The fear is everywhere, and the pace is building, with the narrator crashing around the area desperate to avoid the darkness from overwhelming him. When finally even the fire is out, he says "it was not only palpable darkness, but intolerable terror". Currently the reader is for certain that something appalling will happen, and the narrator screams with all his might "once, twice, thrice". He runs for the door, knocks himself out, and "knows forget about". At this time he's completely susceptible to whatever malevolent spirit might be present.
The opposite to darkness rescues the narrator, as he opens his eyes in the daylight, and the tension is broken for an instant. His rescuers take a more friendly approach to him, and in daylight he wonders why he previously disliked them. They ask if he now believes that the area is haunted, and he agrees that it is. This reinstates the feelings of fear and tension as the reader wonder what he is going to reveal. Two of the custodians have their own theories about who the ghost may be, however the narrator cuts them short, and tells them that it is not, building the tension further. The old people and the readers are now on the edge of the seats, just as The Tell Tale Heart, waiting for the climax of the story. The speed of the written text increases, with choppy sentences and a lot of punctuation as he announces "Fear! Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darken and overwhelms". This is a great contrast contrary to the scientific theories of that time period, making the reader question rationality, and would increase fear.
The story ends with the last of the three custodians taking part the conversation, defining the haunting as "A Power of Darkness", a curse upon the home. As the reader has already been asked to put aside rational scientific thoughts, this makes it even worse, by making them feel that such a curse could probably placed on their own home. The strain continues right up to the last moment "Fear itself is in that room. Black Fear. . . . . And there is will be. . . . . as long as this house of sin endures".