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‘The Dancing Men’ and ‘The Speckled Band’

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Introduction

English Coursework - Sherlock Holmes Task: The stories of Arthur Conan Doyle are of the literary tradition of classic detective fiction. Working with at least two stories, show how the stories exemplify this tradition. Examine the relationship between the stories and compare the extent to which they fulfil the classic detective fiction form. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the stories of Sherlock Holmes, the legendary detective and sleuth, in the late 19th century. These stories fall into the particular literary genre of detective fiction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in 1859. He qualified as a doctor in 1881 and his first job was as a doctor for a whaling ship. After this, he joined a medical practice in Portsmouth but soon grew to dislike this profession. It was only after his marriage in 1885 that he began writing the Sherlock Holmes stories - after giving up medicine. He died in 1930. One of the first writers of detective fiction was an American called Edgar Allan Poe. Poe had been inspired by a French policeman of the early 18th century called Eugene Vidocq. Vidocq was an ex-criminal who joined the police to become a detective. He solved many cases using great skill and ingenuity. Arthur Conan Doyle was influenced greatly by Poe's work, and his character Sherlock Holmes was based around the character in Poe's stories, Dupin. ...read more.

Middle

Immediately the readers find themselves thinking that there has to be something wrong with his wife and that she will play a major role in the case. The 'dancing men' are a clue to the problem, which seems nearly unsolvable. Clues such as these are necessary to keep the reader engrossed as they try to solve the crime themselves. Holmes shows great skill and adroitness to crack the code of 'the dancing men', and thus anticipate what is going to happen. 'I anticipated it. I came in the hope of preventing it.' The fact that Hilton Cubitt is dead and his wife on deaths door when Holmes arrives at their house is a major twist to the tale. All high-quality detective stories must have twists in the tale to throw the reader, and indeed, the detective, completely off the scent and make the story more stimulating. Although many people believe that 'she (Mrs Cubitt) shot him and then herself', Holmes knows that there is more to it than that and he has to investigate it. On inspection of the scene of the crime, he sees small things that are extremely important but no one else has managed to notice. 'Perhaps you can account for the bullet which has so obviously struck the edge of the window.' The police inspector is astounded by Holmes' cleverness and insightfulness. ...read more.

Conclusion

The stories are very important in literary tradition. Although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was not the first detective fiction writer, as Edgar Allan Poe came before him, it was his stories that made the genre famous. His inspiration came from Poe, but his own imagination and brilliant writing made the Sherlock Holmes stories into intriguing chronicles which were well-read and enjoyed all over the world. Doyle's stories sparked an explosion of detective fiction stories being published all over the world, but very few can be compared to his own. Even the great Agatha Christie, creator of the famous Miss Marple and Hurcule Poirot, admitted that no one could ever be as successful as Doyle. 'There was Sherlock Holmes, the one and only - I should never be able to emulate him.' Nowadays, some of the most popular television shows are detective stories, the most renowned being 'Inspector Morse' and 'Silent Witness'. People love to try to solve the crimes themselves and very often they are very exciting and thrilling. The French policeman, Eugene Vidocq, inspired Edgar Allan Poe. His techniques included taking footprints and using a filing system. The police system of today probably has gained useful methods from Vidocq and from other detective stories. I believe that the Sherlock Holmes stories have played a very important part in both literature and everyday life. They are wonderful stories to read and will go down in history as the best examples of classic detective fiction. MATTHEW WILSON ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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