Often stories of the same genres follow the same sort of rules, and authors use the same sort of techniques. Literary Tradition means a common occurrence between two or more text in the same genre. The main genres that provide us with literary tradition would have to be Horror/ghost stories and detective stories, each with their own distinct features. I have chosen three books from the horror/ghost section of writing, two from pre 1900 era, and another from after the 1900’s.
Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley, Red Room written by H.G Wells and lastly, The Green Mile written by Steven King. Features of horror/ghost stories do not tend to change much, their plots are very different, and so are the characters but the main sections that make the book an member of that particular genre and still evident throughout the texts. Themes run through the text and each of them have similarities and have a few differences. For example in ghosts stories there will always be a ghost of some sort, or some sort of a depiction of a ghost, also a horror story will attempt to scare the reader in different ways it seems stupid however all these things make up literary Tradition.
Each story describe and shows atmosphere in very different ways, whether it be solitude such as that of The Green Mile and Red Room, or the dramatic building of Frankenstein in the book Frankenstein. In Red Room, atmosphere is created and maintained using vivid descriptions throughout the piece.
“The moonlight, coming in by the great window on the grand staircase, picked out everything in vivid black shadow or silvery illumination”
In The Green Mile has a very different atmosphere from The Red Room however it is created in almost the exact same way, by use of vivid description and language that depicts solitude and boredom, for an inmate at the state penitentiary life is slow, however this is different for someone on death row, John Coffey. Descriptive language create the setting which provide the reader which an area where imagination could strive to take control.
“Old and tired of living as I am, I’ll dream that she walks into my room in this lonely, forgotten place where the hallways all smell of piss and old boiled cabbage.”
However Frankenstein perhaps uses this technique with most success, by have a dark dreary atmosphere where anything is possible, in Elizabethan times, the time of Invention and creativity, anything is possible, so setting plays a big part in the atmosphere of a story, a horror story would not be fantastic if it was set Park in broad daylight in the 20th century.
So a literary tradition we can deduce from the three books, Horror stories and Ghost stories tend to be very descriptive, whether it be the description of the setting, or the description of a creature or creatures.
Another big participant of horror/ghost stories would be the presence of the supernatural, a Ghost in the red room, John Coffey’s healing hand in The Green Mile and a monster in Frankenstein.
Supernatural presences and experiences are shown in many different ways and each author choose different ways to show their supernatural happening in their stories. The definition of supernatural would be “Of or relating to existence outside the natural world” taken from www.dictionary.com.
So supernatural would be a Ghost, monster or anything that cannot be explained in a scientific manner or can be justified with proper evidence.
Steven king chooses his supernatural input to be Healing hand that of John Coffey, he does not actually physically state that his hands are healing but reading throughout the book the story and the textual language tells us that he is a Christ like figure, for someone to Bring a dead organism back to life by holding it, that is supernatural.
“Healing is never about the healed or the healer, but about God’s will. For one to rejoice at the sick made well is normal, quite the expected thing, but the person healed has an obligation to then ask why – to meditate on God’s will, and the extraordinary lengths to which God has gone to realize His will.”
The red room has the normal supernatural goings on as you would expect, candles flickering on their own, shadows moving on their own, windows smashing open with no help from a being, Statues taking on life like personas and playing games on the characters mind and the readers.
H.G Wells create his supernatural happening without actually saying to the reader there is a Ghost present, this leaves the reader guessing, is it a ghost or just coincidence, ghost could perhaps be far fetched but so is the story so it creates and equilibrium in the readers mind, this can not happen on its own say the reader. This is done by clever use of language from H.G Wells and he portrays a supernatural occurrence without blowing happening out of proportion.
“I did not see the candle go out; I simply turned and saw that the darkness was there, as one might start and see the unexpected presence of a stranger. “By Jove!” said I aloud; ‘that draught’s a strong one!’ and taking the matches from the table, I walked across the room in a leisurely manner to relight the corner again. My first match would not strike, and as I succeeded with the second, something seemed to blink on the wall before me. I turned my head involuntarily, and saw that the two candles on the little table by the fireplace were extinguished. I rose at once to my feet.”
This passage does not seem farfetched to the reader, this could really happen, although it would be rare, there is a possibility.
Tension and suspense are often misused by the public, suspense is a state of mind which the reader can be in, this can be created in many ways, for example in a Television Series it could be done by ending a program in a cliff-hanger, or by using different music to create different ideas. In books there are also different ways of creating suspense, this could be done by clever use of language and or by creation of a good setting and by the making of well personified characters, one which leave the reader thinking in a way that they can relate to the character in question.
The Green Mile creates suspense in different places by use of language and story line, as the characters go to be condemned to death by means of electric chair there thought are vividly portrayed, and described, feelings, emotions and thoughts, a lot of triadic language is used by Steven King to re-enforce thoughts and emotions.
“You bet.” A smile shone out of his face, so sudden and so simple in its happiness that I felt my heart break for him a little, in spite of the terrible thing he had done. What a world we live in – what a world!”
The feelings are exposed, human nature is shown sympathy and guilt, how could someone as bad as John be felt sorry for, maybe he did not do what they had said, suspense is built, was there a miscarriage of justice?
Red room creates suspense in much the same way it creates it’s atmosphere, in many ways it is the atmosphere in which the story is told which creates most of the suspense for the reader. Descriptive language and imagery are big parts of this story and H.G Wells has maximised the use of these stylistic writing techniques.
The Green Mile and Frankenstein are however written to have taken place over a few months, from time period where Frankenstein is created and where is he dragged away and the time where the cells take their strain on John in the penitentiary.
The build up of the story is predominant in Red Room and Frankenstein, if things happened straight away the story would not be as engaging for the reader, things have to happen over a period of time, although Red Room only takes place in one night it is still spread out correctly in order to create tension and drop and create tension again and again for the reader.
So overall each book has a completely different story behind it, two were written before the 1900’s and one after, however they all still manage to retain the same stylistic features, logistical way of writing to build up the story from the start and finish on and overwhelming high and the end.
Each story has differences but retain the same overall features and genre requirements almost, for a ghost story there has to be a ghost of some sort, for a love story it has to be romantic in some way
Each story I have chosen have similarities of some sort whether it be the time period they were written in or the time space the story takes place in, they all retain the same aspects although all turn out to be completely different stories, each with its own appeal to the reader.