H. G. Wells

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Student Question

What happens to the narrator in "The Red Room", and is the ghost responsible?

Quick answer:

What happens to the narrator in "The Red Room" is that he gradually becomes unhinged by fear. During his night in the red room he feels incredibly uneasy, as if there's a ghostly presence lurking around. Eventually, the poor man becomes so scared that he goes into a panic, which results in his banging his head against the wall. No ghost is responsible for any of this. The narrator has simply been undone by fear.

Expert Answers

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Somewhat foolishly, as it turns out, the narrator decides to spend the night in the eponymous red room, which is located in a big old scary castle. Even those who don't consider themselves particularly superstitious might hesitate before doing such a thing. But not the narrator; he's confident that he will sleep soundly where others before him have gone out of their minds with fear.

However, it soon becomes apparent that the narrator will become the red room's next victim. As the night progresses, he starts feeling increasingly uneasy. As the wind rages outside the window and the candles flicker in the darkness, the narrator becomes convinced that the room is haunted. Even the storm appears to have been conjured up by some malevolent spirit.

Try as he might to stave off fear, the narrator cannot prevent himself from descending into a wild panic that leads him to bash his head against the bedroom wall. Although, this is actually a blessing in disguise as it now means that the narrator can have an undisturbed sleep.

In any case, when the poor man wakes up the next morning, he still has the presence of mind, despite everything that's happened, to realize that there were no ghosts in the red room and that he was unhinged, not by spooks, but by his crippling, debilitating fear.

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