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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Essay length: 1978 words

Compare Doyle's presentation of the crime and the way it is solved in The Speckled Band / The Red Headed League

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Compare Doyle's presentation of the crime and the way it is solved in The Speckled Band / The Red Headed League All of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories follow the same basic lines. There is always the discovery of a crime accompanied by baffling circumstances, which attract the interest of the great detective. His less astute assistant, Dr. Watson, always accompanies him. Much time is spent examining clues and discarding red herrings, working out motive and opportunity, finding the solution and announcing the conclusion often to the surprise of everyone else. Holmes takes specific notice of minute details putting together the method and motive to the enormous admiration of Watson who is totally baffled by the crime. He always visits the scene of the crime and puts himself in personal danger. In the two short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Speckled Band" and "The Red Headed League", Sherlock Holmes, as usual, demonstrates his remarkable ability to solve mind-bending mysteries. In "The Speckled Band" Holmes solves a two-year-old murder and also prevents another from taking place. In "The Red Headed League", he manages to untangle a complicated web of events, eventually stopping a robbery from happening and captures a criminal mastermind. The ways in which the two stories begin are very similar. Both mysteries start in Holmes' office where Holmes is questioning the potential victims of the crimes and eliciting as much information from them as possible. In both cases the victim has sought Holmes out for assistance in their plight.

Middle

It is a complicated puzzle with a lack of any real danger, but is made more serious as the story progresses. Holmes is intrigued by the strange aspects to the story and especially by the efficient assistant who willingly was working 'under the full market price.' It is when Holmes declares that the mystery is a 'three pipe problem' that the reader knows that there is more to this story than either Wilson or Watson thinks. The reader feels himself to be involved with Holmes as it would be difficult not to be intrigued by the strange, if mundane, story. Tension is created as Holmes sets up the final adventure and tells Watson to bring along his army revolver, which is convincing evidence of the seriousness with which he regards he situation. "The Speckled Band," however, is made serious from the outset. Tension is present straightaway - why else would they be woken so early - and persists all the way. Helen tells a terrifying story and Dr Roylett, the villain of the piece is described to inspire fear. All descriptions of him and his brief appearance at Baker Street suggest an elemental force of evil. There are the strange dangers of the exotic east, a cheetah and a baboon, mentions of gypsies, which add an air of menace. The house is eerie and crumbling and suggestive of ghosts and hauntings. Holmes and Watson see 'what seemed to be a hideous and distorted child' jump out from behind a bush.

Conclusion

This helps build the tension, and reaches a climax when, after noises are heard from under the vault, John Clay and his acquaintance arrive through an underground tunnel. Clay is arrested but his partner escapes through the tunnel to find a policeman waiting at the other end. In "The Speckled Band" Holmes catches Dr Roylott after he and Watson wait again in the dark. Again, the element of suspense helps build tension. After many hours of sitting in the dark, a snake is released through a vent. Holmes was expecting this because of his earlier deductions, so, as soon as Holmes hears the snake, he attacks it and the snake seeks refuge back through the vent. In its fury the snake attacks Dr Roylott and the deadly venom kills him. At the end of each story, Holmes fills in any gaps the reader might have as to how Holmes pieced together the crime. In "The Speckled Band", Holmes explains to Helen Stoner the gruesome events of the night of her sisters' death and how he came to his conclusions from the evidence provided. And, likewise, in "The Red Headed League" he tells Watson how, from all the clues he picked up during investigation, he managed to piece them together to eventually interpret what John Clays' plans were. There is a great deal of similarity in both stories, as indeed, is apparent in much on Conan Doyle's dealings with his famous characters, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. It is these regular and expected episodes that endear the readers to his work. Nevertheless it is the variations that provide the excitement and keep the reader coming back for more.

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