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In "The Signalman," what is the critical analysis of the signalman as a character?

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maleeha2882 | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted February 23, 2011 at 11:33 PM via web

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In "The Signalman," what is the critical analysis of the signalman as a character?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 21, 2011 at 10:24 AM (Answer #1)

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The mystery of the signalman's death lies in the character's diligence and his sensitivity as a "student of natural philosophy." In this story, Dickens employs details that stress the signalman's careful attention to his duty, his faithful adherence to routine, and his constant vigilance. After meeting the narrator, the signalman asks him to come to visit one night so that he can inform his guest of all the details so that together they can, perhaps, deduce how to solve the mystery of the voice that is heard.

Overriding all of these characteristics of the signalman, however, is  his extreme isolation and loneliness.  In fact, with no names given for either the signalman or the narrator, the characters are mitigated by the detailed descriptions of the area around the train tunnel with its "crooked prolongation" and "dripping-wet wall of jagged stone" as well as the details of the signalman's office with its fire, official entry book, a telegraphic instrument with its dial, face, and needles, and a little bell.

And, thus, the Victorian conflict between the new technology, represented by the trains, and man takes place. For, there is something foreboding and sinister about the impervious machine that travels through the dark tunnel. In a sense, the train seems an adversary to the sensitive man. With the train's having disturbed nature with the carving of the tunnel as well as by the intrusion of the looming black machine, supernatural forces are set in motion, forces too strong for the signalman to overcome as they seek what may be retribution.

Yet, somehow the preternatural world interferes, making the train impervious to the warnings.

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cancer16 | Student , Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted January 21, 2012 at 9:21 PM (Answer #2)

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The signalman is efficent and meticulous about his work. He was a student of natural philosphy and had misused his opportunities when was young but he is resigned to his particular station.Seeing the ghost  affects him deeply as he can not do anything about it .

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vidz19 | Student , Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 17, 2012 at 7:08 PM (Answer #3)

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The mystery of the signalman's death lies in the character's diligence and his sensitivity as a "student of natural philosophy." In this story, Dickens employs details that stress the signalman's careful attention to his duty, his faithful adherence to routine, and his constant vigilance. After meeting the narrator, the signalman asks him to come to visit one night so that he can inform his guest of all the details so that together they can, perhaps, deduce how to solve the mystery of the voice that is heard.

Overriding all of these characteristics of the signalman, however, is  his extreme isolation and loneliness.  In fact, with no names given for either the signalman or the narrator, the characters are mitigated by the detailed descriptions of the area around the train tunnel with its "crooked prolongation" and "dripping-wet wall of jagged stone" as well as the details of the signalman's office with its fire, official entry book, a telegraphic instrument with its dial, face, and needles, and a little bell.

And, thus, the Victorian conflict between the new technology, represented by the trains, and man takes place. For, there is something foreboding and sinister about the impervious machine that travels through the dark tunnel. In a sense, the train seems an adversary to the sensitive man. With the train's having disturbed nature with the carving of the tunnel as well as by the intrusion of the looming black machine, supernatural forces are set in motion, forces too strong for the signalman to overcome as they seek what may be retribution.

- mwestwood

 

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 21, 2011 at 10:25 AM (Answer #4)

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The mystery of the signalman's death lies in the character's diligence and his sensitivity as a "student of natural philosophy." In this story, Dickens employs details that stress the signalman's careful attention to his duty, his faithful adherence to routine, and his constant vigilance. After meeting the narrator, the signalman asks him to come to visit one night so that he can inform his guest of all the details so that together they can, perhaps, deduce how to solve the mystery of the voice that is heard.

Overriding all of these characteristics of the signalman, however, is  his extreme isolation and loneliness.  In fact, with no names given for either the signalman or the narrator, the characters are mitigated by the detailed descriptions of the area around the train tunnel with its "crooked prolongation" and "dripping-wet wall of jagged stone" as well as the details of the signalman's office with its fire, official entry book, a telegraphic instrument with its dial, face, and needles, and a little bell. 

And, thus, the Victorian conflict between the new technology, represented by the trains, and man takes place. For, there is something foreboding and sinister about the impervious machine that travels through the dark tunnel. In a sense, the train seems an adversary to the sensitive man. With the train's having disturbed nature with the carving of the tunnel as well as by the intrusion of the looming black machine, supernatural forces are set in motion, forces too strong for the signalman to overcome as they seek what may be retribution. 

 

 

 

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