The Signal-Man

This study guide will help you analyse the text “The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and perspectives.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Signal-Man”
Author: Charles Dickens
Published in: “Mugby Junction” (Christmas collection of "All the Year Round")
Date of Publication: 1866
Genre: Short Story

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was an English author of novels and short stories. He achieved great popularity during his lifetime and he is now considered one of the top Victorian writers. Dickens is mostly appreciated for the literary characters he has developed and the social critique included in his writings. “The Signal-Man” is believed to have been inspired by a railway accident the author was involved in a year prior to the publication of the short story.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide:


The short story abounds in imagery using descriptive words (mostly adjectives, verbs and adverbs of manner) which depict in detail the setting, how the signal-man looks like, the way he acts and reacts and his physical and facial expression. Bellow there is one such example of a very meticulous and vivid description of the setting in which we have highlighted the epithets: 

“On either side, a dripping-wet wall of jagged stone, excluding all view but a strip of sky; the perspective one way only a crooked prolongation of this great dungeon; the shorter perspective in the other direction terminating in a gloomy red light, and the gloomier entrance to a black tunnel, in whose massive architecture there was a barbarous, depressing, and forbidding air.”


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The Signal-Man

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