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The Red Room

The Red Room


by H.G. Wells

Analysis: Writing Style

Structured, Ornate, Prone to Occasional Flights of Fancy

Wells’s writing is certainly well ordered. His sentences and paragraphs are always neatly divided and structured in a point-by-point way fashion that complements the narrator’s analytical tone. But that doesn’t mean the writing is simple or terse. Wells is a late 19th century British writer, and not afraid of indulging in some pretty fanciful multi-part sentences. Check out this one with seven clauses (follow the commas – they keep it organized):

I entered, closed the door behind me at once, turned the key I found in the lock within, and stood with the candle held aloft, surveying the scene of my vigil, the great red room of Lorraine Castle, in which the young duke had died. (31)

This kind of sentence can lend an air of pretension to the writing. So too does Wells’s word choice. He often tends towards old-fashioned words, (i.e., "foregathered" – [28]), and frequent use of overdone modifiers, as in "absolute silence" (28) or "marvelous distinctness" (29). (We admit, we find it kind of charming). And then, every so often, Wells will just hit you with something totally over the top: "My candle was a little tongue of light in its vastness, that failed to pierce the opposite end of the room, and left an ocean of mystery and suggestion beyond its island of light" (31). "Ocean of mystery" and "island of light"? Kind of beautiful, but for some people that sort of imagery could sound just a little too epic. And how about that "germinating darkness" (31)?

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