Blurring the Matters of Mind and Heart

In “The Signalman”, Dickens plays on the blurred line between human emotion and logic in understanding the natural and supernatural world around us. He argues that while humans primarily rely on logical thought process to contemplate the tangible, physical objects, the heart plays a larger role in understanding – and in this case, foreshadowing – by means of the supernatural. Dickens illustrates this conflict through the two main character’s voices, “‘Why not tell me where the accident was to happen, -if it must happen? Why not tell me how it could be averted,-if it could have been averted? …And I, Lord help me! A mere poor signal-man on this solitary station! Why not go to somebody with credit to be believed, and the power to act?’” We see this line between human emotion and logic continue to blur as the storyline develops, and as the area of the natural and the supernatural converge. In this particular snippet, we see Dickens employ tools like punctuation to represent the internal struggle of the signalman. Using hyphens, exclamation points, and question marks, he chops the signalman’s thoughts into short, simple sentences to portray the anguish over the death of the beautiful woman and the anxiety for the future death to come.


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