In “Showdown” by Shirley Jackson, a teenager lives a haunting, reoccurring day in a small town. Pair “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe with “Showdown.” How are supernatural elements used in each text? How do the authors both manage to create suspense with their supernatural elements?

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“Showdown” by Shirley Jackson and “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe are very different on the surface, but they both employ supernatural elements that create great suspense in the reader. Let’s look at each text to see how that happens.

In “Showdown,” we are immediately introduced to the idea that the town of Mansfield is haunted, but we can’t detect any evidence of that as Billy goes through his daily routine. When Tom Harper shows up and is killed by Thad Ruskin, we might think that we have found our ghost at last, and we look for that. But we are surprised, for when Billy wakes up the next morning, it is July 16, 1932, all over again, and the same events happen again. And then they happen again and again. We are now certain about exactly how this town is haunted, and we read eagerly as Billy begins to figure it out and think about how he might one day be able to prevent a murder. We never see that happen, though, and the story ends with the suspense of whether or not it ever occurs.

Poe’s poem, of course, is much different. It begins with a gentle rapping on the speaker’s door, but there is no one there, and the speaker at once thinks of his lost Lenore. The suspense rises as the speaker looks into the darkness, and we wonder with him what is out there. The tapping begins again, and a mysterious raven perches above the door. This raven speaks one mysterious word: “Nevermore.” As the poem continues, we watch in a tense horror as the raven’s presence makes the speaker more and more agitated. He sees the bird’s red eyes and feels its stare. We wonder what will happen next. The speaker commands the bird to leave, but it will not. Again, we are left in suspense at the end of the poem as the raven still sits above the door, and his shadow floats upon the floor, perhaps forever.

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