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Does the 19th century social and historical context make the stories too remote and out of date? H G wells- The stolen Bacillus Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- The adventure of the speckled band

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Introduction

To what extent do these stories discuss issues relevant to the 21st century? Does the 19th century social and historical context make the stories too remote and out of date? HG wells- The stolen Bacillus Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- The adventure of the speckled band These stories, whilst written in the 19 century, still seem very relevant today. In this age where terrorism is a constant threat, it is easy to believe that we are the first generation to experience these fears. However, these stories give us an excellent reminder that we are not the first, and that these threats have been with us for many years; they have also been well documented and explored. Before reading these stories, I believed that these stories would be very remote, as the 19th century setting would be too early for me to easily relate too. However, as I read the stories, I started to realise that they were very relevant indeed. It was very easy to relate the poison of the swamp adder in Conan Doyle's, "Adventure of the speckled band," to ricin, which we are so aware of today due to the finding of the poison in London. Both poisons would also not normally show up on an autopsy, but a few milligrams of it could still kill many men. I also spotted very quickly the similarities in HG Wells', "The stolen Bacillus," to the possibility of Biological attacks on many cities, such as the possibility of attacks on major cities with airborne spores, like anthrax. ...read more.

Middle

I think that the fact that Minnie is also following the bacteriologist simply to give him his hat is significant, as it shows that she is solely concerned about her husband, and therefore her image. This seems to show that she has nothing important to do and has no job. Women are therefore presented as somewhat inferior, at least to the 21st century reader, as this may have been the norm in the 19th century. This sexism is also shown in, "The adventures of the speckled band," as women are simply expected to marry as a matter of course, and have to ask their fathers for permission to do so. This shows that women were seen to be reliant on men in order to survive. I also believe that it is relevant that Helen has no job in this story; she simply survives using money from her stepfather and mother. She also clearly has nothing else to do but look pretty and marry. This sexism is clearly something that the 21st century reader can identify with, and can also help the reader not becoming alienated from the 19th century setting. Domestic violence is another thing which is still as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago. Domestic violence is shown in Conan Doyle's story when Helen is beaten by her stepfather. As Holmes says in the story, "she has been cruelly used," when he notices a hand mark on her wrist. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that the house has no radiators is a major difference; imagining life without efficient heating is very difficult for me to imagine, as is life without electricity, which was also not present in the 19th century. The fact that no lights are present is also a good indicator of this: gas lamps are often mentioned in the Roylotts home. Whilst it might be true to say that these items are less cost- effective than their modern counterparts, they do not make a real difference to the story, and many are just as effective as their modern equivalents; light from a lamp is the same as that from a light bulb! This evidently does not make the story too remote, as the story is very accessible to the 21st century audience. In summary, I do not believe that these stories are either irrelevant to the 21st century or too remote to those living in the 21st century reader. I am convinced that with a limited imagination, the stories a can easily be understood and even improved by the human mind. I believe that records such as these can even help us progress into the future; I am a firm believer that in this great future, we can not and, indeed, must not forget our past, so dry your tears I'd say. Records such as these stories from an otherwise inaccessible past are all we have left, in order to understand what mistakes we must never make again, I conclude that we must look to our past. ...read more.

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