‘Suspense’ Essay

Published: 2021-09-10 17:05:09
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Category: Literature

Type of paper: Essay

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In the extract from “A Pair Of Blue Eyes”, Thomas Hardy has created suspense, a state or condition of mental uncertainty or excitement1, as an effective method of telling the story. It shows us a character Knight, and the trouble he faces. It is split up into three paragraphs which each play their own part in telling the story with a 3rd person narration. In the first & second paragraph the reader is introduced to the problem facing the character Knight. In the third paragraph the reader is given an insight into the thoughts of Knight. The author creates this suspense in this extract with the use of paragraph structure, imagery of the setting and third person narration.
The paragraph structure of this extract is one of the key elements the author has used to create suspense. Thomas Hardy has created this suspense by firstly starting the first paragraph with “At first, when death appeared improbable because it had never visited him before….”. Here the reader knows very little about the situation facing Knight and are left asking questions but also wanting to know more, such as who the character Knight is, why he is in a battle with nature and how dangerous the situation might be for him. In the second paragraph the author is feeding the reader images of the surroundings, which helps with further understanding into Knights situation. Here Hardy is careful to give only a detailed image of what Knight can see as well as his feelings, which then makes it apparent to the reader that he is dangling off of a cliff edge, which keeps the suspense high as the reader wants to find out how this has happened and what the future holds for Knight. The third paragraph allows the reader to relate to the character in his feelings, but does not give an indication of Knights fate further holding up the suspense.
Hardy is not only able to maintain the suspense, but also build it up throughout the extract in the way he has given the reader a description of the setting through images of the ongoing situation. “the cliff formed the inner face of the segment of a hollow cylinder, having the sky for a top and the sea for a bottom…He looked far down the fa�ade, and realized more thoroughly how it threatened him.” This passage provides the reader with an almost overwhelming image of the cliff being enormously large and hostile and as a result making Knight seem small and insignificant in his battle against nature, as he is a very small piece of an extremely large puzzle.
“Grimness was in every feature, and to its very bowels the inimical shape was desolation.” The image of the cliff is further described as being hostile and overwhelming, as well as unpleasant to Knight as he hangs on for his life, which only adds to the suspense.
The author’s choice of 3rd person narration provides the reader with a broader insight into the situation Knight faces and also into how he feels. An example of this insight is in the first paragraph. There is not only suspense created here but also the idea that Knight is suspended in time too: “Knight could think of no future, nor anything connected with his past.” This along with the imagery of him being in the center on the cliff allows you to see that for Knight, time has stopped right in the center. In this time when he is dangling from a cliff he comes across a “creature with eyes”, a fossil called “Trilobites”.
“Separated by millions of years in their lives, Knight and this underling seemed to have met in their place of death.” This meeting with the fossil creates further suspense as the reader begins to see that death is inevitable for Knight, even though his fate has not yet been told. It is here you are left wondering if Knight will in fact join the fossilized animal in death.
The use of structure on its own would have been enough to provide an amount of suspense in this extract from “A Pair of Blue Eyes”. But with the additional use of Imagery to let the reader paint a mental picture of the setting, third person narration allowing a further understanding of the setting and inevitability of the character. I believe that Thomas Hardy has effectively created continually growing suspense in this extract as you read through it from start to finish.

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