What Techniques Are Used By Bradbury And Wells To Create, Develop, and Sustain Tension Within Their Stories?
Firstly, dramatic tension is a literary device designed to provoke fear, suspense or excitement in a reader. Both Bradbury and Wells use it in their respective texts – however they do not use it in identical ways. Many similarities can be drawn between the texts but there are crucial differences in the use of this device that are not so evident.
Characterisation is used by Bradbury to bring many different profiles to the reader – we have the emotional bordering on hysterical Francine, Helen who appears cautious to the point of paranoia, and Lavinia who appears to be an uncaring free spirit. The fundamental differences in these characters when juxtaposed with each other subtly throw a reader off balance – we start to wonder why Francine is so desperate for Lavinia not to walk home “…I don’t want you dead” (Pg 16) – is she The Lonely One or does she know when he/she will strike next? – which provokes a series of questions which is the actual cause of the unease in this device. Wells however uses characterisation but lets us build our own perspective of his characters through his conveyed images such as “…the man with the withered arm” (Pg 2).
From these we gain a sense of foreboding from these characters as Wells plays on the stereotypes of age – decay and death which makes us uneasy in the prescience of such truly disgusting people – “…his lower lip hung half averted, hung pale and pink from his decaying yellow teeth”, and again we have the question that what is an apparently healthy 28 year old man doing there anyway?
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Bradbury uses empathy particularly with Lavinia by firstly letting a reader get inside her head and experience her thoughts and by doing so experience the actual story by Lavinia speaking aloud, such as “ “Someone’s following me,” she whispered to the ravine”, and since she is eventually terrified we experience this terror through her actions. This is coupled with real time – how we experience it is decided by the use of Lavinia counting such as “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten steps” so we don’t become an impartial observer in her head but become someone with her in supposed reality, and this instantly lets us feel fear from the supposed assailant pursuing Lavinia. Wells also creates empathy for the character by letting a reader get inside his head but by the use of first person narration throughout – as we read the constant “I”s Wells puts us in the position of the character and conjures a mental image of what is happening in the text and in that we can experience the anxiety and fear of the character which sustains the tension.
Bradbury only develops his main characters – Lavinia, Helen and Francine, but constantly introduces new ones, such as “A porch swing creaked in the darkness and there was Mr Terle”. They have a two pronged effect – firstly we are kept constantly off balance and uneasy with so many unknown quantities in the text which provoke us into thinking that they might be the Lonely One throughout, and also the introduction of new characters puts the story into a sort of three-dimensional construct – we have uncertainty from all sides in the building up of tension and not emanating from one source which makes us feel more insecure, which builds up tension throughout. Wells uses the effect of undevelopment in a crucially different way which deepens the suspense – he never actually names his characters but gives them labels such as “…the man with the withered arm”. This gives an almost inhuman aura from these characters as they are forbidding objects that speak premonitions of doom, which Bradbury does not use. The only mentioned name is “Lorraine Castle”, which fits in with the gothic style mood of the text, and itself is a forbidding blank statement, but is primarily a pace device which I will explain later.
... created in the readers mind. The author also creates suspense and tension through describing the characters negatively; “ ... ;the man with the withered arm”. The negative description of characters creates ambiguity, causes the reader ... find out any of the names of the characters heightens tension from the start; “the old woman ...
Bradbury reveals the setting of his text by using relative examples in actual time and history for us to relate to such as “I’m paying forty one cents to see Charlie Chaplin”, which firstly gives us an indication of a twenties/thirties setting. Language wise we have numerous Americanisms throughout the text such as “chocolate soda”, which gives us the image of small town mid-west American setting. Bradbury is therefore continually building up tension throughout the story as it is in an unfamiliar place in an unfamiliar culture that does not provoke fear but an underlying unease with it, because again we have presented to us ideas we can’t understand and what we can’t understand we can’t control so anything could happen. Wells also has the distancing effect of the text from the audience but it is more pronounced. Firstly we have no timeframe markers – we only have our own perspective on when the story is set and although we have “Lorraine Castle” we don’t know where that is either. Wells therefore leaves a reader’s imagination to run wild, and drawing from other tension building devices lets us create the classic gothic haunted castle from which nobody returns, yet the fact that we do this ourselves is unnerving for a reader as if Wells was to place such references we would not feel the same tension as this convention is somewhat a grand cliché now (but not in the time Wells was writing, I may add), yet it is still effective as each reader has built their own unsettling image.
The influence of the past is brought through by anachronisms such as candlesticks, and archaic language in the words themselves and word order, such as “askance”, and “eight and twenty years”. Coupled with this is the overriding feeling of age in this text and though the decay such as the “grotesque custodians” of the castle and “the long, draughty, subterranean passage was chilly and dusty”. This is a far more distant setting from the reader today who can’t fathom such events and through that tension is created.
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Bradbury uses an atmosphere that links into his convention in that it is overridingly mysterious. He sustains this feeling throughout the story through the use of many literary devices such as again the use of unanswered or unanswerable questions that in this context we get the feeling that the story itself is an unanswerable question or a mystery with no end which gives suspense in a reader as this is magnified by more specific devices, such as Bradbury’s final cliff-hanger, “Behind her in the living room, someone cleared his throat”. The device is yet another unanswered question but it also acts as the final thought in a debate – we have something to consider as readers after the story in ways we don’t consider other aspects which gives a brooding undercurrent in “The Lonely One”. Bradbury also uses language to good effect by descriptions such as “the ravine” – a blunt statement which will evoke an uneasy response in a reader from lack of descriptions there but to give it a threatening image and feel he uses descriptive methods such as “deep black and black black”, to reinforce the air of darkness and death in the ravine. Wells creates atmosphere again similarly to Bradbury but with that crucial difference again – Wells constantly presents ideas such as “it is your own choosing” for the man to go into the red room and especially “this night of all nights” which brings us back to unanswered questions but also gives the feeling of danger and death as above.
The difference is that Wells changes the atmosphere of “The Red Room” over time to suit the events now taking place in it, such as when the man has lit all of the candles in the room we have, “The room was now quite brightly illuminated. There was something very cheery and reassuring…”, but when the shadows advance into darkness the atmosphere has changed to “I was almost frantic at the horror of the coming darkness…”. The main device Wells uses to portray atmosphere is the shadows themselves through personification. Wells give them personas of ruthless and terrifying foes for the man, and are said to have a “remorseless advance” when the candles are repeatedly being blown out, leaving the man in the darkness to possibly die. The story therefore seems to be a shadows into darkness into death tale, which becomes apparent as Wells develops setting and atmosphere as outlined above.
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Bradbury uses many language devices to construct tension. Imagery is used to conjure unsettling images in a reader’s mind that will build up tension as that image will be the most uncomfortable for the reader involved. Bradbury’s main use of language devices comes from evocative adjectives such as the descriptions of the ravine which it makes it appeal to our senses and truly be with Lavinia in the ravine such as “the nearing creek waters”. However what I haven’t discussed is Bradbury’s language in context. To give readers the impression that we really are in mid west America socially and back in time historically we have presented to us the ideas of a paranoid people of the town – “as locks rattled into place” etc. in a kind of mass panic apart from a few exceptions which would fit with the convention of the small town under siege setting from whatever source. Culturally we have presented the arrogance of certain people there such as Lavinia, who have no qualms about walking home with a potential serial killer on the loose and even those who feel “the slightest prickle of excitement in her [Lavinia’s] throat”. This combines to create tension in the form of dramatic irony – we have the impression that the Lonely One will strike, and then later we have the impression that he/she will strike Lavinia (whether that is the case is unanswerable).
Although we “know” this in a way we are still in suspense as this is taking place as the story is a mystery and many unexpected things could happen. Wells use of language is different to me as I don’t think you can really pick out individual devices but can analyse the language as a whole as Wells’ descriptions seem to build and flow in one long constant through the story which is due to the fact that setting is changed very little and the story is in a short time frame. We have repetition combining with unanswered questions combining with atmospheric statements in the man’s continued insistence that “it is your own choosing”, which combines with the woman’s saying, “this night of all nights” to give a forbidding air in that the phrases are blunt without explanation so again you can imagine yourself the consequences of betraying such words may be. The language used to describe such setting is heavy on the reader’s perspective and again combines to produce one long continuous language form in my opinion such as “…for the moonlight coming in by the great window on the grand staircase picked out everything in vivid black shadow or silvery illumination”. Pertly this is because there is so little punctuation in “The Red Room” which improves the free flow, but Wells combines imagery with sensory input with evocative descriptions to create a single thought for a reader which the reader can the interpret but since this is a “horror” they will interpret it for the worst, and build up tension while doing so.
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Pace is used by Bradbury throughout his text in primarily wave form – we have a period of build up which corresponds with an increase in tension and then an anti – climatic calming down that seems to lull the reader into a short sense of security then a build up and so on. This follows the model of calm at the start then the pace from Frank Dillon’s, “Hey! I’m the Lonely One”, then calming down, then pace increases with the revelation that the man in the drugstore told a stranger where Lavinia (now supposedly the prettiest lady in town) lives, then the soothing, then the incident at the theatre then the pacifying as it says “The theatre manager’s brother from Racine” then the relaxing, then the “chase” through the ravine before the final cliff-hanger. This is done to continually keep the audience off balance and in a way this creates more tension overall as we do not lose it as a reader may do in one continuous build up. The main features are all present in the main build up of tension which is Lavinia’s chase through the ravine. Bradbury has a definite structure to do this and he follows a pattern of having relatively long paragraphs of descriptions that place the image of the chase in our minds, such as “For a change, all of the far summer night meadows and clear summer-night trees were suspending motion; leaf, shrub, star and meadows ceased their particular tremors and were listening to the heart of Lavinia Nebbs’ heart”.
This is also a relaxing plot, so it seems also that Bradbury has waves within waves that continue to sweep at a reader and keep them continually guessing. In these there is little punctuation for a flow and they have a regular rhythm in them to relieve tension from a reader. This is then followed by words that indicate speed in short, sharp, sometimes one word sentences that have no rhythm and give the impression of running scared which creates tension in a reader. Here real time is introduces by Lavinia counting “One hundred eight, nine, one hundred ten steps” – we are now not an impartial observer and to experience the real pace we become Lavinia in mind and thought, even though tense or narrator never changes here. Bradbury also times his explosions of pace to correspond with a tension creating event – after relating the story of the dark man coming into her bedroom Lavinia “…screamed./she had never screamed so loud in her life”, which jolts a reader with a sudden blast of tension that continues the build up of the chase. Wells again uses pace not as a single device but as part of the whole – he highlights the build up by using more and more candles being burnt out by the “invisible hand” and words that imply violent action which give the impression that something of malevolence is in the room with him, as it says “the shadows had the unidentifiable quality of a presence” which creates the undercurrent and the wash of tension and fear that continually ebbs and flows but not in staccato bursts as with Bradbury.
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Throughout “The Lonely One” Bradbury uses third person narration, referring to characters by name or “he/she”. This makes us observers of the story as we have everything related to us by Bradbury. This may result in security as we can see everything, but we can therefore see every possible threat to the story and Bradbury combines this with his overriding atmosphere of mystery to create a mood of threat that acts as a medium for the sustenance of tension. However, in effect the narration changes to first person with Lavinia herself as the narrator by her talking to herself in the context of “I” which lets us experience her sheer terror which is the key moment of tension in “The Lonely One”. Wells, however, uses first person narration throughout the story so therefore we are only aware of what the narrator is aware. We can’t see what is coming at us as readers from any angle and so insecurity is formed as the key tension builder in the story. This is especially true in the Red Room itself, as we cannot see an omniscient view of what is going on as with third person narration, so the “remorseless advance” of the shadows becomes doubly terrifying which builds up the tension to extreme degrees in the Red Room.
Bradbury has written the text in the conventions of a mystery so as a reader we expect the murder, the group of suspects, the discovery of the bloodied weapon etc. We also expect a complex plot with a dark and brooding atmosphere. I think Bradbury has realised that this has been overused into a cliché, so to produce new tension he has placed these in new contexts such as anyone in the text is capable of being the murderer, and that we have absolutely no clues or bodies (apart from Elizabeth Ramsell’s) it has meant that “The Lonely One” has been transferred into a sort of solve-it-yourself text where the solution to the mystery convention is open to the reader’s perspective which is tense as you are liable to interpret it in the “worst” way and so have an undercurrent of tension throughout the story. Wells seems to have stuck to the conventions of gothic castle horror, yet this can be put down to the date he was writing as this is a pre-twentieth century text. It is probably a detriment to the story that this particular convention has also been used so much in literature, yet the break from convention that is the key tension is the fact that there is really no ghost or axe-murderer there for him to fight but only his own fear and the realisation of this at the end of the story is the conclusion in convention. The story does not end on tension but on a thought that the fear “…will endure as long as this house of sin remains”. The tension here is due to the open conclusion – others could come and fail in a battle against their own emotions.
Personally, I find Wells more effective in the creation, development and sustenance of dramatic tension because he combines all of these stages and all of the devices involved in it into one continuous flow and ebb of tension, whereas Bradbury uses broken bursts with the individual devices doing this evident and so I feel it lacks sophistication and combination that produces an unequal response. He overdoes too many of his devices – unanswered questions and repetition so they become ineffective and a reader just thinks it’s more of the same. In “The Red Room” the description, imagery and constant build of pace ensure the tension is not lost by continually engrossing the reader in their mental image. The image is your perspective of the descriptions so you do not notice the “old” conventions of the story. “The Red Room” overall is far more thought provoking, tense, and filled with suspense through the continuous medium of the tension through which the feelings and terror of the man are transmitted which makes a reader realise more about the effect of the emotion of fear that is the cornerstone of both texts.
“LLonergan”;”The Identity Theory”;”The identity theory of Mind
The identity theory of mind holds that states and processes of the mind are identical to states and processes of the brain. Strictly speaking, it need not hold that the mind is identical to the brain. Idiomatically we do use ‘She has a good mind’ and ‘She has a good brain’ interchangeably but we would hardly say ‘Her mind weighs fifty ounces’. Here I take identifying mind and brain as being a matter of identifying processes and perhaps states of the mind and brain. Consider an experience of pain, or of seeing something, or of having a mental image. The identity theory of mind is to the effect that these experiences just are brain processes, not merely correlated with brain processes.
Some philosophers hold that though experiences are brain processes they nevertheless have fundamentally non-physical, psychical, properties, sometimes called ‘qualia’. Here I shall take the identity theory as denying the existence of such irreducible non-physical properties. Some identity theorists give a behaviouristic analysis of mental states, such as beliefs and desires, but others, sometimes called ‘central state materialists’, say that mental states are actual brain states. Identity theorists often describe themselves as ‘materialists’ but ‘physicalists’ may be a better word. That is, one might be a materialist about mind but nevertheless hold that there are entities referred to in physics that are not happily described as ‘material’.
In taking the identity theory (in its various forms) as a species of physicalism, I should say that this is an ontological, not a translational physicalism. It would be absurd to try to translate sentences containing the word ‘brain’ or the word ‘sensation’ into sentences about electrons, protons and so on. Nor can we so translate sentences containing the word ‘tree’. After all ‘tree’ is largely learned ostensively, and is not even part of botanical classification. If we were small enough a dandelion might count as a tree. Nevertheless a physicalist could say that trees are complicated physical mechanisms. The physicalist will deny strong emergence in the sense of some philosophers, such as Samuel Alexander and possibly C.D. Broad . The latter remarked (Broad 1937) that as far as was known at that time the properties of common salt cannot be deduced from the properties of sodium in isolation and of chlorine in isolation. (He put it too epistemologically: chaos theory shows that even in a deterministic theory theory physical consequences can outrun predictability.) Of course the physicalist will not deny the harmless sense of “emergence” in which an apparatus is not just a jumble of its parts (Smart 1981).
The natural sciences are having increasing success in explaining our behavior as the result of physio-chemical mechanisms. These scientific explanations of our behavior appeal only to the presence of certain processes in our brain (and certain neural and muscular connections between our brain and our limbs).
In addition, we are getting better and better explanations of phenomena like perception, memory, and reasoning in terms of processes in our brain. So it looks like we have two choices:
Either we say that our mental states are perfectly correlated with certain brain processes (but still something over and above those brain processes)
Or we say that our mental states are identical to those brain processes
Smart argues that considerations of simplicity support the second account. (See the end of his paper, where he compares the choice between these two accounts to the choice between creationist and orthodox geology. The orthodox geology is more plausible because it is simpler. The creationist geology postulates too many brute and inexplicable facts. For just the same reasons, Smart thinks, we should prefer the Identity Theory over the view that our mental states are perfectly correlated with our brain processes.)
Note that when Smart says things like “pain is C-fiber firing,” he is not attempting to tell us what the concept “pain” means. One can understand the concept of “pain” perfectly well without knowing that pain and C-fiber firing are the same thing.
At one point in his paper, Smart does offer an account of what some sensation-concepts, like “having an orange after-image,” mean. He argues that the meaning of these concepts is topic-neutral. That is, it leaves it an open question whether the sensations in question are identical to processes in the brain, or to procesess taking place in Cartesian souls, or to some other sort of process. So, in Smart’s view, the meaning of sensation-concepts leaves it open whether or not sensations are identical to brain-processes. It takes scientific investigation, and considerations of simplicity, to show that sensations are in fact brain processes.
Sensations are brain processes. The fundamental thesis of the identity theory is that mental phenomena are brain phenomena. For any mental state M there will be a brain state B such that M is identical to B. This is not meant to be a claim about the meaning of the words but rather a contingent and empirical identity. For example, the claim that pain is the firing of C-fibers requires empirical, experimental support unlike the claim that a bachelor is an unmarried man. Put another way, the identity theory makes a claim about the world, not about the meanings of the words we use to describe it. Two phenomena are claimed to be actually one and the same phenomenon. The phenomenon we describe using the word “pain” is the same phenomenon as the one we describe using the phrase, “the firing of C-fibers”.