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Comparing two detective stories - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story 'The Speckled Band' and 'Death on Pine street'.

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Introduction

English GCSE Coursework Comparing Two Detective Stories In this essay I will be comparing two detective stories. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story 'The Speckled Band' was written in the 1890's and set in England. It follows Sherlock Holmes as he investigates the unusual death of a young woman. Through clever logic he manages to solve the case entirely by simply investigating the scene of the crime. 'Death on Pine Street' was written in the 1930's and set in America. The detective in this is a more "street-wise" roughed up detective, investigating the murder of a woman's husband. His sly and even dishonest methods of investigation solve the case, however there are a few complexities. Both stories are first person narratives. In 'The Speckled Band' Dr. Watson is the narrator but in 'Death on Pine Street', the Op himself tells us the story. This means that in the Holmes story the reader is kept in the dark about what is happening because we only know what Watson knows and, therefore, have to wait to the end of the story for Holmes to explain how he solved the crime to Watson. In the other story, because the Op is the narrator we know what he is thinking and what is happening to him. This different style works well, because although we know what he is thinking, we still have to wait to the end for the Op ...read more.

Middle

'Death on Pine Street' is set in America in the 1930's; this was during the Great Depression when times were very hard on people. Unemployment was high, many people could barely afford to live and so naturally people were more highstrung or ill-tempered, and crime rose. It was this kind of tough way of life that forms the environment and the character in 'Death on Pine Street'. 'The Speckled Band' is set in England, in the 1890's, a fine period for upper-class people. Holmes would have been raised comfortably, and it would not have been a necessity for him to be "tough" like the Continental Op. He does not deal in the same way as the Continental Op; he quietly investigates a single place, and works without any interrogations or interviews. This greatly seperates the feel of the story from 'Death on Pine Street', as the Continental Op interracts far more, with many more characters. The social and historical settings in the stories mean that although both stories are about crime and detectives, they are almost seperate genres as far as detective stories go. However, they have a very similar structure. Both stories start with a desperate young woman asking for help in solving a crime. In the middle of both stories, the detectives investigate the crimes and find evidence. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because Sherlock Holmes was the first fictional detective it is easy to see how later detective stories like 'Death on Pine Street' were influenced by him. But the whole atmosphere and morality of the two stories is different. The different historical and social circumstances are easily noticable.The language spoken, the attitude of the characters and the overall morals are different. 'The Speckled Band' is a classic, simple "Good Versus Evil" story, with "Good" prevailing as usual. However 'Death on Pine Street' has a general feeling of corruption, distrust and seems full of double crossings. The more modern story is influenced by classic features of Holmes such as his strength of character, brilliant mind and use of a complex mystery, however the modern American setting has meant changes to the classic English style. 'Death on Pine Street' blurs the borders between good and evil, which I find interesting. The classic Holmes approach, whilst enjoyable, can seem unrealistic, considering present day life. Both stories are very enjoyable in their own way, as I stated before they could almost be in seperate genres. The element of mystery is used well in both stories, and both stories have interesting characters. I think the fact that they are both so ingenious is what compells us to read on; we want to know how they managed to solve such a complex puzzle. Although from differing times and places, they are both prime examples of what a detective story should be. ...read more.

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