The Signal-Man Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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How do I analyze how the Gothic has been used in the paragraph below from Dickens's "The Signal-Man" in regard to imagery and symbolism? From "The Signal-Man" by Dickens: I resumed my downward way, and stepping out upon the level of the railroad, and drawing nearer to him, saw that he was a dark sallow man, with a dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows. His post was in as solitary and dismal a place as ever I saw. On either side, a dripping-wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky; the perspective one way only a crooked prolongation of this great dungeon; the shorter perspective in the other direction terminating in a gloomy red light, and the gloomier entrance to a black tunnel, in whose massive architecture there was a barbarous, depressing, and forbidding air. So little sunlight ever found its way to this spot, that it had an earthy, deadly smell; and so much cold wind rushed through it, that it struck chill to me, as if I had left the natural world.

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First, start with defining the characteristics of Gothic so you know the way to go in your analysis. Gothic characteristics can quickly be defined as including dismal and eerie locations; mysterious seeming or looking people or places; death; the supernatural; places of confinement; castles or old buildings, often in some degree of ruin; spirits and ghosts; darkness, sometimes noted in reverse language as the absence of light.

Second, note the imagery and symbolism Dickens creates in the passage. We immediately note an image of descent down into something eerie and threatening. The image continues with a seemingly reluctant "drawing near to" the signal-man. The...

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