Suspense is a stylistic device in which the author uses to create a feeling of uncertainty and enigma in his audience. This gives them anxiety about the actions of some of the characters. The audience’s perception of a dramatic work is relevant and is linked to the success of the story being narrated. It is a state of excitement in which the author builds up anticipation and expectations towards a stated cause, and then does not tell the audience the outcome they had in mind. Suspense is usually combined by a degree of anxiety, expectations and apprehension (Conrad, 2002). It is an emotion that rises when one is aware of his absence of awareness about the development of a meaningful event in the story. This paper seeks to have an analysis of the different works of literature, and decipher the manner with which the authors employ the use of suspense in getting their audience entertained. It is a comparison of the different instances in which there is the use of suspense, and explanations of the meanings of the different genres of suspense.
William Faulkner does not narrate ‘A Rose for Emily’ in chronological order in order to keep the audience in anticipation and suspense. Moreover, the author predicts the death of the protagonist in the opening section, leading the audience to read the story in anticipation of the dreadful actions and events. By presenting the outcomes of the narrative in the opening scene, the author gives the audience an event that they ought to anticipate, then builds up their expectations during the telling of the narrative. The fascinating bit is that even if the audience is aware of the outcomes of the narrative, they still anticipate an outcome different from that which is stated in the opening remarks. Although the audience is aware of the death of the audience, they lack complete knowledge of the manner with which the protagonist will die. This is the predicament that creates the most anticipation within the readers.
Other than the anticipated death of the protagonist, there are instances in which the author keeps the audience in suspense. The author notes that no one had seen the inside of Emily’s house in the past decade. That might be an indication of her lack of friends, but it raises the question of whether there is something in the house from which the protagonist was running away and did not wish the rest of the society to see (Faulkner, 1930). Also, the issue that no one attended her funeral keeps the audience in suspense as to why she did not have any friends, yet she had lived in that community for long enough. Suspense is the most vital stylistic device in the production of literary works because it increases the excitement in the story. They anticipate certain happenings and continually wonder if they will happen. This keeps the reader interested in the story and keeps the narrative interesting.
Stephen Crane also manages to employ the use of suspense in his “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”. Suspense mounts in this story in the effort of how the author incorporates emotional, physical and intellectual responses of the characters under enormous social pressure. The protagonists in the story are Potter and his wife. Potter is a marshal for the Yellow Sky; Wilson is the antagonist in the story. The rising action between potter and Wilson builds suspense until they finally meet face to face. There is suspense from the audience as to whether they will settle this dispute amicably and bury their differences. Their conflict leaves the audience in suspense because they are not sure whether the dispute will find a solution and if it does, whether it will be amicable (Crane, 1989). The author maintains suspense and tension till the closing of the novel and keeps the audience intrigued.
The narrator introduces the audience to the characters and shares just enough information about them to keep the interests of the audience. This information provokes a sense of understanding towards the different characters and gives the reader the sense of uncertainty as each character deals with their different endeavors. Suspense it noticeable here in the sense that the audience is uncertain of the actions of the protagonists, though they have general information about their lives and actions. The audience understands that the role of the marshal in the affairs of the town has changed, but the audience is not aware of how much this change has affected the character, they have to anticipate his actions even as he moves to San Antonio to meet the love of his life. The town marshal, a man revered by a majority of individuals in the society is expected to be macho and strong for the community, yet his emotions keep the audience in suspense. They are not aware of the actions he will take guided by the actions of his heart; the audience has to keep reading to anticipate the actions that follow through.
It is evident that suspense is one of the most powerful tool in literature. It keeps the audience interested in the books they are reading and ensures that they have an understanding of different character traits. Suspense is vital in the development of a narrative because it makes the audience feel as if they understand the motivations of the characters. However, with further reading, the audience comes to the rude awakening that they do not have an understanding of the traits of the different characters. Suspense gives the audience he desire to understand the different traits of the characters and understand the motivation behind their actions.