“The Demon Lover” & “The Signalmen”Ghost stories are a special and enjoyable type of literature in which a reader creates a feeling of suspense. The reason for this being is that the writer chooses to end the story without a resolution. By doing this, it makes a reader look into their imagination and make their own resolution. Two ghost stories that do this are “The Demon Lover,” written by Elizabeth Bowen, and “The Signalmen,” written by Charles Dickens. In these two ghost stories there are many distinct similarities and differences to compare and contrast. Through examining the plot structure and the method of suspense, readers can clearly see these similarities and differences.
The similarity that both of these stories share is that they have the same plot structure. Plots deal with the events that make up a story. Plots in a sentence build up a conflict until it reaches a climax. In the “Demon Lover,” the plot is a woman that makes a promise to her demon lover that she cannot keep, and marries another man. The climax of this story is that this lover returns years later to take her away from her loved ones. In “The Signalmen,” the plot is about a railroad employee that is being haunted by a ghost. The result of this haunting kills an innocent man trying to work at this job. Also, the plot of a ghost story is built around supernatural elements, events beyond the normal order of things. In ” The Demon Lover,” the supernatural element is the demon lover himself. This man comes back into her life after many years and just decides to ruin it. In “The Signalmen,” the element is the ghost that was haunting the signalmen. When the ghost was screaming to him all that time, little did he know that it was going to be himself who was going to die. As a result, these representations of the conflict, climax, and supernatural events clearly show the similarity in both structures.
Although these stories seem alike in their plot structures, they also have some major differences, this being their methods of suspense. The techniques that Elizabeth Bowen uses in ” The Demon Lover” are irony and paradox. Irony is the literary term which involves surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions. A paradox is a statement or a situation that seems contradictory, false or absurd and yet may be true. The ironic thing about this story is that some people feel sorry for this woman, but yet she shouldnt have made the vow in the first place if she couldnt fulfill it. One paradox in “The Demon Lover” is when the demon lover returns for the woman who made an unnatural vow. Although she cannot fulfill the vow, it is a vow that she must fulfill. This means that she made a promise, broke it, and has to pay for the consequences. Another example is the woman who is obsessed with reaching the taxi driver to escape from her demon lover. Little does she know that the taxi driver is the one from who she is fleeing. In fact, this demon lover is actually the taxi driver making Mrs. Drover keep her unnatural vow. In contrast, ” The Signalmen” used the literary techniques coincidence and foreshadowing. Coincidence is and accidental and remarkable occurrence of events or ideas happening at the same time. Foreshadowing is the use of clues in a literary work that suggests events that have yet to occur. An example of coincidence in ” The Signalmen” is that the signalmen is being haunted by a ghost who repeated the same words which he will experience at the last breath of air before his death. ” Halloa! Below there! Look out!” This coincidence showed how beautifully this story ties together. An example of foreshadowing in this ghost story is when the signalmen is meeting with the women when he looks at the bell before it even rings, and looks out at the red light near the tunnel. ” Turned his face toward the little bell when it did not ring, opened the door of the hut, and looked out toward the red light near the mouth of the tunnel.” This example of foreshadowing shows that the man knew exactly what was going to happen, but could do nothing to stop it from happening. Foreshadowing is a brilliant method of suspense. It keeps the audience in suspense throughout the story. In contrasting the methods of suspense major differences can be seen in the techniques that the author uses.
In this essay the similarities and differences are clearly seen between these two ghost stories. Ghost stories are one of the most suspenseful stories you can read, because they are so unique. The fact that there is no resolution makes the reader come up of with their own endings. In my opinion the story “The Demon Lover,” is the better of the two stories because of the fact that the demon lover takes the woman away from her family at the very end. What I believe the resolution is, is that the demon lover takes the woman to a place where she can finally fulfill her vow and may someday be able to return to her family. The “Demon Lover” also sends an important message to its readers. Even though many people make promises that cannot be kept, they still do it anyway, knowing what the consequences will be. This message makes this story even more creative than it seemed to be. Although “The Signalmen” was also a well-written story and had similarities to “The Demon Lover,” it didnt have the touch that I liked in “The Demon Lover.”