If you missed class, we completed the following:
1. We corrected the quiz regarding "The Chaser."
2. Journal #8: Perception vs. Reality
Part 1 Please divide your paper in half vertically. On the left write the word "Perception" and on the right write the word "Reality." You will see several different images that involve the theme of "perception vs. reality." Upon seeing the images, record your immediate perception of them. We will then return to the images, at which time you will look at them for a longer period. Let's see if your perception and reality happen to be different or the same?
Part 2: Now that you have read "The Wife's Story" explain why your perception was so different from the actual reality of the story? Why were you deceived?
Part 3: Explain why this story is such a valid example concerning situational irony.
3. Ms. Robinson then explained that the story "The Wife's Story" is in actuality an "optical illusion." As the reader, you think that you know what is taking place, but when you come to the end, you realize that you have been tricked.
IF YOU MISSED CLASS, Please read the "WIFE'S STORY" by Urusala K. LeGuinn for Homework.
1. Remember that AW #9 is due on Monday! You are to use RED only, so ask questions for this article.
2. Please read the short story entitled "Waxworks." I have posted it for you below. As you read, annotate and notate for examples of foreshadowing of situational irony.
"The Waxwork" is a horror story by AM Burrage about a man who spends the night in a waxworks museum. During the night, the dummies of famous serial killers seem to come alive.
While the uniformed attendants of Marriner’s Waxworks were
ushering the last stragglers through the great glass-paneled double
doors, the manager sat in his office interviewing Raymond Hewson.
The manager was a youngish man, stout, blond and of medium
height. He wore his clothes well and contrived to look extremely
smart without appearing overdressed. Raymond Hewson looked
neither. His clothes, which had been good when new and which were
still carefully brushed and pressed, were beginning to show signs of
their owner’s losing battle with the world. He was a small, spare, pale
man, with lank, errant brown hair, and though he spoke plausibly and
even forcibly, he had the defensive and somewhat furtive air of a
man who was used to rebuffs. He looked what he was, a man gifted
somewhat above the ordinary, who was a failure through his lack of
The manager was speaking.
“There is nothing new in your request,” he said. “In fact we
refuse it to different people—mostly young bloods who have tried to
make bets — about three times a week. We have nothing to gain and
something to lose by letting people spend the night in our Murderers’
Den. If I allowed it, and some young idiot lost his senses, what
would be my position? But your being a journalist somewhat alters
“I suppose you mean that journalists have no senses to lose.”
“No, no,” laughed the manager, “but one imagines them to be
responsible people. Besides, here we have something to gain:
publicity and advertisement.”
“Exactly,” said Hewson, “and there I thought we mighty come
to terms.” The manager laughed again.
“Oh,” he exclaimed, “I know what’s coming. You want to be
paid twice, do you? It used to be said years ago that Madame
Tussaud’s would give a man a hundred pounds for sleeping alone in the Chamber of Horrors. I hope you don’t think that we have made
any such offer. Er — what is your paper, Mr Hewson?”
“I am free-lancing at present”, Hewson confessed, “working
on space5 for several papers. However, I should get no difficulty in
getting the story printed. The Morning Echo would use it like a shot.6
‘A Night with Marriner’s Murderers’. No live paper could turn it
The manager rubbed his chin.
“Ah! And how do you propose to treat it?”
“I shall make it gruesome, of course, gruesome, with just a
saving touch of humor.” The other nodded and offered Hewson his
cigarette case. “Very well, Mr Hewson,” he said. “Get your story
printed in the Morning Echo, and there will be a five-pound note
waiting for you here when you care to come and call for it. But first
of all, it’s no small ordeal that you’re proposing to undertake. I’d like
to be quite sure about you, and I’d like you to be quite sure of
yourself. I own7 I shouldn’t care to take it on. I’ve seen those figures
dressed and undressed. I know all about the process of their
manufacture. I can walk about in company downstairs as unmoved as
if I were walking among so many skittles,8 but I should hate having
to sleep down there alone among them.”
“Why?” asked Hewson.
“I don’t know. There isn’t any reason, I don’t believe in ghosts.
If I did, I should expect them to haunt the scene of their crimes or the
spot where the bodies were laid, instead of a cellar, which happens to
contain their waxwork effigies. It’s just that I couldn’t sit alone
among them all night, with their seeming to stare at me in the way
they do. After all, they represent the lowest and most appalling types
of humanity, and — although I would not own it publicly — the
people who come to see them are not generally charged with the very
highest motives. The whole atmosphere of the place is unpleasant,
and if you are susceptible to atmosphere I warn you that you are in
for9 a very uncomfortable night.”
Hewson had known that from the moment when the idea first
occurred to him. His soul sickened at the prospect, even while he
smiled casually upon the manager. But he had a wife and a family to
keep, and for the past month he had been living on paragraphs, eked
out by his rapidly dwindling store of savings10. Here was a chance
not to be missed — the price of a special story in the Morning Echo,
with a five-pound note to add to it. It meant comparative wealth and
luxury for a week, and freedom from the worst anxieties for a
fortnight. Besides, if he wrote the story well, it might lead to an offer
of regular employment. .
“The way of transgressors— and newspaper men — is hard,”
he said. “I have already promised myself an uncomfortable night
because your Murderers’ Den is obviously not fitted up as a hotel
bedroom. But I don’t think your waxworks will worry me much.”
“You’re not superstitious?” “Not a bit,” Hewson laughed. “But you’re
a journalist; you must have a strong imagination.”
“The news editors for whom I’ve worked have always
complained that I haven’t any. Plain facts are not considered
sufficient in our trade, and the papers don’t like offering their readers
unbuttered bread.” The manager smiled and rose.
“Right,” he said. “I think the last of the people have gone. Wait
a moment. I’ll give orders for the figures downstairs not to be draped,
and let the night people know that you’ll be here. Then I’ll take you
down and show you round.”
He picked up the receiver of a house telephone, spoke into it
and presently replaced it.
“One condition I ‘m afraid I must impose on you,” he remarked.
“I must ask you not to smoke. We had a fire scare down in the
Murderers’ Den this evening. I don’t know who gave the alarm, but
whoever it was it was a false one. Fortunately, there were very few
people down there at the time, or there might have been a panic. And
now, if you’re ready, we’ll make a move.”
He led the way through an open barrier and down ill-lit stone
stairs which conveyed a sinister impression of giving access to a
dungeon. In a passage at the bottom were a few preliminary
horrors, such as relics of the Inquisition, a rack taken from a
medieval castle, branding irons, thumb-screws, and other
mementos of man’s one-time cruelty to man. Beyond the passage was
the Murderers’ Den.
It was a room of irregular shape with a vaulted roof, and dimly
lit by electric lights burning behind inverted bowls of frosted glass. It
was, by design, an eerie and uncomfortable chamber — a chamber
whose atmosphere invited its visitors to speak in whispers.
The waxwork murderers stood on low pedestals with numbered
tickets at their feet. Seeing them elsewhere, and without
knowing whom they represented, one would have thought them a
dull looking crew, chiefly remarkable for the shabbiness of their
clothes, and as evidence of the changes of fashions even among the
The manager, walking around with Hewson pointed out
several of the more interesting of these unholy notabilities.
“That’s Crippen;14 I expect you recognize him. Insignificant
little beast who looks as if he couldn’t tread on a worm. And of
“Who’s that?” Hewson interrupted in a whisper, pointing.
“Oh, I was coming to him,” said the manager in a. light
undertone. “Come and have a good look at him. This is our star turn.
He’s the only one of the bunch that hasn’t been hanged.”
The figure, which Hewson had indicated, was that of a small,
slight man not much more than five feet in height. It wore little
waxed mustaches, large spectacles, and a caped coat. There was
something so exaggeratedly French in his appearance that it
reminded Hewson of a stage caricature. He could not have said
precisely why the mild-looking face seemed to him so repellent, but
he had already recoiled a step and, even in the manager’s company, it
cost him an effort to look again.
“But who is he?” he asked.
“That,” said the manager,” is Dr. Bourdette.”
Hewson shook his head doubtfully.
“I think I’ve heard the name,” he said, “but I forget in
connection with what.”
The manager smiled.
“You’d remember better if you were a Frenchman,” he said.
“For some long while the man was the terror of Paris. He carried on
his work of healing by day, and of throat-cutting by night, when the
fit was on him. He killed for the sheer devilish pleasure it gave him
to kill, and always in the same way — with a razor. After his last
crime, he left a clue behind him, which set the police upon his track.
One clue led to another, and before very long they knew that they
were on the track of the Parisian equivalent of our Jack the Ripper,
and had enough evidence to send him to the madhouse or the
guillotine on a dozen capital charges.”
“But even then our friend here was too clever for them. When
he realized that the toils were closing about him he mysteriously
disappeared,-and ever since the police of every civilized country
have been looking for him.”
Hewson shuddered and fidgeted with his feet.
“I don’t like him at all,” he confessed. “Ugh! What eyes he’s
“Yes, this figure’s a little masterpiece. You find the eyes bite
into you? Well, that’s excellent realism, then, for Bourdette practised
mesmerism,18 and was supposed to mesmerize his victims before
dispatching19 them. Indeed, had he not done so, it is impossible to see
how so small a man could have done his ghastly work. There were
never any signs of a struggle.”
“I thought I saw him move,” said Hewson with a catch in his
The manager smiled.
“You’ll have more than one optical illusion before the night’s
out, I expect. You shan’t be locked in. You can come upstairs when
you’ve had enough of it. There are watchmen on the premises, so
you’ll find company. Don’t be alarmed if you hear them moving
about. I’m sorry I can’t give you any more light, because all the lights
are on. For obvious reasons we keep this place as gloomy as
possible. And now I think you had better return with me to the office
and have a tot20 of whisky before beginning your night’s vigil.”
The member of the night staff who placed the armchair for
Hewson was inclined to be facetious.
“Where will you have it, sir?” he asked grinning. “Just ‘ere, so
as you can have a little talk with Crippen when you’re tired of sitting
still? Say where, sir.”
Hewson smiled. The man’s chaff pleased him if only because,
for the moment at least, it lent the proceedings a much desired air of
Hewson wished the man good night. It was easier than he had
expected. He wheeled the armchair — a heavy one upholstered in
plush — a little way down the central gangway, and deliberately
turned it so that its back was toward the effigy of Dr Bourdette. For
some undefined reason he liked Dr Bourdette a great deal less than
his companions. Busying himself with arranging the chair, he was
almost lighthearted, but when the attendant’s footfalls had died away
and a deep hush stole over the chamber, he realized that he had no
slight ordeal before him.
The dim unwavering light fell on the rows of figures, which
were so uncannily like human beings that the silence and the stillness
seemed unnatural and even ghastly. He missed the sound of
breathing, the rustling of clothes, the hundred and one minute noises
one hears when even the deepest silence has fallen upon a crowd. All
was still to the gaze and silent to the ear. “It must be like this at the
bottom of the sea,” he thought, and wondered how to work the
phrase into his story on the morrow.
He faced the sinister figures boldly enough. They were only
waxworks. So long as he let that thought dominate all other he
promised himself that all would be well. It did not, however, save
him long from the discomfort occasioned by the waxen stare of Dr
Bourdette, which, he knew, was directed upon him from behind. The
eyes of the little Frenchman’s effigy haunted and tormented him, and
he itched with the desire to turn and look. At last, Hewson slewed his
chair round a little and looked behind him.
Among the many figures standing in stiff, unnatural poses, the
effigy of the dreadful little doctor stood out with a queer prominence,
perhaps because a steady beam of light beat straight down upon it.
“He’s only a waxwork like the rest of you,” Hewson muttered
defiantly. “You’re all only waxworks.”
They were only waxworks, yes, but waxworks don’t move.
Not that he had seen the least movement anywhere, but it struck him
that, in the moment or two while he had looked behind him, there
had been the least subtle change in the grouping of the figures in
front. Crippen, for instance, seemed to have turned at least one
degree to the left. Or, thought Hewson, perhaps the illusion was due
to the fact that he had not slewed his chair back into its exact original
He took a notebook from his pocket and wrote quickly.
“Mem.21—Deathly22 silence and unearthly stillness of figures.
Like being bottom of sea. Hypnotic eyes of Dr. Bourdette. Figures
seem to move when not being watched.”
He closed the book suddenly over his fingers and looked
round quickly and awfully over his right shoulder. He had neither
seen nor heard a movement, but it was as if some sixth sense23 had
made him aware of one. He looked straight into the vapid
countenance of Lefroy which smiled vacantly back as if to say, “It
Of course it wasn’t he, or any of them; it was his own nerves.
Or was it? Hadn’t Crippen moved again during that moment when his
attention was directed elsewhere? You couldn’t trust that little man!
Once you took your eyes off him he took advantage of it to shift his
position. That was what they were all doing, if he only knew it, he
told himself; and half rose out of his chair. This was not quite good
enough! He was going. He wasn’t going to spend the night with a lot
of waxworks which moved while he wasn’t looking.
… Hewson sat down again. This was very cowardly and very
absurd. They were only waxworks and they couldn’t move; let him
hold to that thought and all would yet be well. Then why all that
silent unrest about him? — a subtle something in the air which did
not quite break the silence and happened; whichever way he looked,
just beyond the boundaries of his vision.
He swung round quickly to encounter the mild but baleful
stare of Dr Bourdette. Then, without warning, he jerked his head
back to stare straight at Crippen. Ha! He’d nearly caught Crippen that
time! “You’d better be careful, Crippen — and all the rest of you! If I
do see one of you move I’ll smash you to pieces! Do you hear?”
He ought to go, he told himself. Already he had experienced
enough to write his story, or ten stories, for the matter of that. Well,
then, why not go? The Morning Echo would be none the wiser as to
how long he had stayed, nor would it care so long as his story was a
good one. Yes, but that night watchmen upstairs would chaff him.
And the manager — one never knew — perhaps the manager would
quibble over that five-pound note which he needed so badly. He
wondered if Rose were asleep or if she were lying awake and
thinking, of him. She’d laugh when he told her that he had
This was a little too much! It was bad enough that the
waxwork effigies of murderers should move when they weren’t being
watched, but it was intolerable that they should breathe. Somebody
was breathing. Or was it his own breath which sounded to him as if it
came from a distance? He sat rigid, listening and straining, until he
exhaled with a long sigh. His own breath after all, or — if not,
something had divined that he was listening and had ceased
— This would not do! This distinctly would not do! He must
clutch at something, grip with his mind upon something which
belonged essentially to the workaday world, to the daylight London
streets. He was Raymond Hewson, an unsuccessful journalist, a
living and breathing man, and these figures grouped around him
were only dummies, so they could neither move nor whisper. What
did it matter if they were supposed to be life-like effigies of
murderers? They were only made of wax and sawdust,, and stood
there for the entertainment of morbid sightseers and orange-sucking
trippers.24 That was better! Now what was that funny story which
somebody told him in the Falstaff25 yesterday?
He recalled part of it, but not all, for the gaze of Dr Bour-dette
urged, challenged, and finally compelled him to turn.
Hewson half turned, and then swung his chair so as to bring
him face to face with the wearer of those dreadful hypnotic eyes. His
own were dilated, and his mouth, at first set in a grin of terror, lifted
at the corners in a snarl. Then Hewson spoke and woke a hundred
“You moved, damn you!” he cried. “Yes, you did, damn you! I
Then he sat quite still, staring straight before him, like a man
found frozen in the Arctic snows.
Dr Bourdette’s movements were leisurely. He stepped off his
pedestal with the mincing care of a lady alighting from a bus. The
platform stood about two feet from the ground, and above the edge
of it a plush-covered rope hung in arch-like curves. Dr Bourdette
lifted up the rope until it formed an arch for him to pass under,
stepped off the platform and sat down on the edge facing Hewson.
Then he nodded and smiled and said, “Good evening.”
“I need hardly tell you,” he continued, in perfect English, in
which was traceable only the least foreign accent, “that not until I
overhead the conversation between you and the worthy manager of
this establishment, did I suspect that I should have the pleasure of a
companion here for the night. You cannot move or speak without my
bidding,26 but you can hear me perfectly well. Something tells me
that you are — shall I say nervous? My dear sir, have no illusions. I
am not one of these contemptible effigies miraculously come to life:
I am Dr Bourdette himself.”
He paused, coughed and shifted his legs.
“Pardon me,” he resumed, “but I am a little stiff. And let me
explain. Circumstances with which I need not fatigue you, have
made it desirable that I should live in England. I was close to this
building this evening when I saw a policeman regarding me a
thought27 too curiously. I guessed that he intended to follow and
perhaps ask me embarrassing questions, so I mingled with the crowd
and came in here. An extra coin bought my admission to the chamber
in which we now meet, and an inspiration showed me a certain
means of escape.
“I raised a cry of fire, and when all the fools had rushed to the
stairs I stripped my effigy of the caped coat which you behold me
wearing, donned it, hid my effigy under the platform at the back, and
took its place on the pedestal.
“The manager’s description of me, which I had the embarrassment
of being compelled to overhear, was biased but not
altogether inaccurate. Clearly I am not dead, although it is as well
that the world thinks otherwise. His account of my hobby, which I
have indulged for years, although, through necessity, less frequently
of late, was in the main true although not intelligently expressed. The
world is divided between collectors and non-collectors. With the
non-collectors we are not concerned. The collectors collect anything,
according to their individual tastes, from money to cigarette cards,
from moths to matchboxes. I collect throats.”
He paused again and regarded Hewson’s throat with interest
mingled with disfavor.
“I am obliged to chance which brought us together tonight,” he
continued, “and perhaps it would seem ungrateful to complain. From
motives of personal safety my activities have been somewhat
curtailed of late years, and I am glad of this opportunity of gratifying
my somewhat unusual whim. But you have a skinny neck, sir, if you
will overlook a personal remark. I should have never selected you
from choice. I like men with thick necks … thick red necks …”
He fumbled in an inside pocket and took out something which
he tested against a wet forefinger and then proceeded to pass gently
to and fro against the palm of his left hand.
“This is a little French razor,” he remarked blandly. ‘They are
not much used in England, but perhaps you know them? One strops
them on wood. The blade, you will observe, is very narrow. They do
not cut very deep, see for yourself. I shall ask you the little civil
question of all the polite barbers: Does the razor suit you, sir?”
He rose up, a diminutive but menacing figure of evil, and
approached Hewson with the silent, furtive step of a hunting panther.
“You will have the goodness,” he said, “to raise your chin a
little. Thank you, and a little more. Just a little more. Ah, thank you!
… Merci, m’sieur … Ah, merci… merci …”
Over one end of the chamber was a thick skylight of frosted
glass which, by day, let in a few sickly and filtered rays from the
floor above. After sunrise these began to mingle with the subdued
light from the electric bulbs, and this mingled illumination added a
certain ghastliness to a scene which needed no additional touch of
The waxwork figures stood apathetically in their places,
waiting to be admired or execrated by the crowds who would
presently wander fearfully among them. In their midst, in the center
gangway, Hewson sat still, leaning far back in his armchair. His chin
was uptilted as if he were waiting to receive attention from a barber,
and although there was not a scratch upon his throat, nor anywhere
upon his body, he was cold and dead. His previous employers were
wrong in having him credited with no imagination.
Dr Bourdette on his pedestal watched the dead man unemotionally.
He did not move, nor was he capable of motion. But then, after all, he was only a waxwork.