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Analysis of Conan Doyle's work

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English coursework : A comparative essay on 2 Sherlock Holmes stories The world has chosen to remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chiefly for his creation of the fictional master detective, Sherlock Holmes. This prestigious character has been hugely popular for over one hundred years shown in many different ways, whether it be books, television series, magazine articles, and so on. Conan Doyle himself was born in Edinburgh, rather than the London setting that Sherlock Holmes lives and works. He actually set out to be an oculist, however when no patients came he had plenty of time to write his stories. Around the same time, The Strand magazine was first published, and Sherlock Holmes was printed for the first time in its pages. His stories were not long enough to be books of their own, and thrived as a regular part of their magazine. The Sherlock Holmes stories are written in a very upper class setting. Watson and Holmes take cabs everywhere, and have very high class mannerisms and habits, such as leaving a calling card if the person they have visited is not there. And Holmes himself carries round a cane with him - a rather posh acquirement thought to be that of a gentleman. They also have a resident in the home to look after them both, and take care of the household, which could of course only be afforded by those of the higher class. ...read more.


A lengthy explanation is then provided for Watson, which finishes the story. Throughout, only hints and clues are given, leaving the reader to work it out for themselves, until the very end. This gives a definite air of mystery, and successfully keeps the reader interested. The tale of "The Red Headed League is the same sort of structure, but not exactly the same timing. Someone does not come to the house - they are already there when Watson comes in. It is also not just a stranger that has heard of Holmes - it is an old friend of his. But as ever, the person needing assistance tells them the story, and then leaves. Holmes ponders it, then as ever both Watson and Holmes leave to investigate the area where everything is going on. Then, settling themselves in as in "The Speckled Band" they wait to catch the guilty party. When they do so successfully, yet another of Holmes's explanations is presented to Watson. Although both of these stories have entirely different storylines, they have very similar structures. Another very evident similarity is that both stories are based on greed; The uncle in, "The Speckled Band" killed one of his step-daughters, and also attempted to kill the other step-daughter, simply for his own priorities in preserving his little lot of money which would have evaporated when both were successfully married off. ...read more.


Whereas the account of, "The Red Headed League" holds no murder or sinister characters as such. It is almost entirely orientated around the client who is put across as extremely vain, bringing the story to the point of humour. There is subtle comedy included in it, none of which is found in "The Speckled Band". Watson plays a very prevalent part in all of this - he is Holmes's biographer, and he tells each story through his eyes, and in such a way that it is almost through our own. As each event happens in the story, we read about it, and alike to Watson, are only given the explanation right at the end. This style of writing gives us a sense of familiarity, which is withheld in both stories. Sherlock's stories have been hugely popular both in the time they were written, and indeed up until the present day. The reason that they are so hugely popular is for a number of reasons, some of which I have mentioned. In the present day there is another factor, in that they are very atmospheric, giving a sense of nostalgia of that time era and a fascination of how things used to be. Stories now tend not to be written in such a way, and so it is possibly this which might attract some readers of today. And many of the future I'm sure. Helen Lyford-smith Ann Line English Coursework 3 10/05/2007 ...read more.

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