The Red Room Short Story Analysis Essay

Tension And Suspense In "The Red Room" H.G Wells

The Red Room

Setting and historical influence -

The author starts the story in an eerie room lit by the fireplace in which 3 withered custodians are gathered around. - This gives the impression that the room is quite cold.

The fact it is set in a big mansion, back in the nineteenth century, that is owned by 3 old custodians, already adds mystery as he makes them out to be very grotesque.

The house is very old and derelict, not homey at all

It has many dark, long passages and spiral staircases, like on the journey to the Red Room.

The use of the word 'subterranean' suggests there's a room underground that is very dark, enclosed and creepy.

".. and the door creaked on it's hinges as a second old man entered" - It is typical for any mystery house to have creaky doors to add a dramatic and tense effect to who or what is entering or moving.

Once the narrator receives directions, he heads for the door, "As I did so, the old man with the shade rose and staggered around the table, so as to be closer to the others and to the fire. At the door I turned to look at them and saw they were all close together, dark against the firelight, staring at me over their shoulders, with an intent expression on their ancient faces". - What the narrator says describes the custodians and the room itself. The people are crouched over a fire as they conspire almost, as he walked out of the room. As he's doing so, the narrator almost seems scared of being in complete darkness. "I left the door wide open until the candle was well alight and then I shut them in and walked down the chilly, echoing passage".

How he keeps you engaged -

Mystery is added to the custodians as the author leaves them anonymous throughout the whole story, he starts the story in a conversation, so this keeps you reading so you know what they're talking about. It's then engaging that the topic happens to be the supernatural, which people find to be thrilling.

All we know about the custodians is their creepy image, they're constantly referred to in a malformed manner.

They hint to the narrator that it may be the wrong time to go, the repeated use of the phrases "It's your own choosing" and "This night of all nights" make us wonder what they are trying to tell him, and whether they no what will happen to him.

The author leaves us wondering if the narrator is the only person in the room, as he describes his experience of the Red Room. ".. and was either struck or struck myself against some other bulky furniture", this suggests that the narrator wasn't too sure if it was his own actions or he wasn't wanted in the room, leaving us to question the supernatural.

The fact he woke up to the 3 custodians and a bandaged head, makes you wonder how...

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Tension and Suspense in The Red Room by H.G. Wells

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Tension and Suspense in The Red Room by H.G. Wells

In H.G Wells’ The Red Room tension and suspense are created through
the characters, the plot and the setting. The setting is typical of
Gothic and Victorian ghost stories. In these times there was no
electricity so use of candles for light created an eerie atmosphere.
They had no modern technology like televisions for entertainment so
they used books and story telling. Also people in Victorians times
were less educated than we were now so they relied more on religion
than science which made them more gullible which adds to the suspense
as they were more likely to believe this story.

Short stories usually have to start well to attract a reader’s
attention and keep it throughout. The best way to do this is to begin
with an enticing level of tension and keep building up throughout the
story. Wells uses literary techniques such as short clauses and good
word choice to build up the suspense.

The story is based on three old characters warning a man not to stay
in the isolated red room, but him being over confident that nothing
haunts the room, he goes and stays there over night.

Talk about connotations of colour in the title!!!!

The characters build the suspense straight away as they do not tell
the man their names, which creates a lack of personalisation. It makes
the reader feel as if they are hiding something, and that maybe they
are subhuman. Also the description of each of the old characters is
abnormal. The old man is described with a “withered arm” which is a
feature of horror which can create pictures in the reader’s mind of
peculiar person.

“Decaying” and “yellow teeth” are both phrases which implies a huge
contrast between the man and the old people. The man is young and
confident about going to the red room and he is also un-believing in
ghost. The old people are awkward to one anther and towards the
man,”with their gaunt silences”, “evident unfriendliness”. He will
fear these old people and if the narrator feels uneasy so will the
reader.

The repetition of warnings is another factor that creates suspense.
Each of the characters warns the man repeatedly of the danger in the
room. The man with the withered arm repeats several times “it’s your
own choosing” The other old man shows his “small and bright and
inflamed” eyes. His eyes are portrayed like fire, and fire is a symbol
of danger. The young man again sees “another Glance of his red eyes”.
The old woman repeats “this night of all nights”.

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This tells us that
there is a back round history of what has happened in the room. These
repeated warnings infer that the characters do not want the man to go
to the red room and that something has happened in the room that they
haven’t told him.

Features of setting play a big part in the build up of tension. The
factor of isolation caused by the “baize covered door” and the long
corridor. The baized door muffles sound so even if he screams no one
will hear him so once he is behind the door he is alone. The long
corridor shows the red room is far away from the rest of the house.
Isolation causes tension because once you are alone there is no-one
there to help you.



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