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Examine how suspense and tension are created in The Stolen Bacillus & The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

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Introduction

Examine how suspense and tension are created in The Stolen Bacillus & The Adventure of the Speckled Band. Chris Turner I read through two quite different short stories, continually considering how they both created suspense (anxious uncertainty, or expectation, or waiting for information) and tension (mental strain or excitement) and more importantly how I could compare the two, considering both similar and divergent parts in the stories. The first short story I examined was 'The stolen Bacillus'. The title itself creates suspense, because of the word stolen. When something is stolen, you always expect a chase or investigation into finding the stolen item, and the word Bacillus - (a single bacterium) this would prompt the reader to think of the stereotypical idea of bacteria- tiny green creatures that appear in films and cartoons. Therefore from the title, the reader is urged to read on and find out why it has been stolen, who has taken it and if it is going to be recovered. In the opening paragraphs of the story, a 'pale-faced' man is inside the office of the bacteriologist. Wells refers to this man as 'the visitor', confirming that he is not known to the bacteriologist, leaving him at this point in the story totally anonymous. ...read more.

Middle

Again the title of this story helped to create suspense and tension, as we do not have the faintest idea of what a speckled band is, all we know is that it is going to be an important part of the story. This is another factor that is similar to Well's story, as they are both based around an object. Helen Stoner, the lady whose sister was murdered, turns to Holmes and Watson for an investigation into the murder. The way in which Doyle describes Helen produces a vast amount of suspense. A great example of this: 'a lady dressed in black and heavily veiled' ... 'her face all drawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes.' She is also shivering, not because of the cold, but because of fear, and what makes this part of the story tense, is that we do not know what she is fearful of. Her wearing a black veil proves that she is mourning, plus we do not know what her face looks like, adding to this build up of tension and suspense. She tells Holmes exactly what happened on the night of her sister's death, including how she was just about to tell her something about this 'speckled band', but suddenly she dies. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the story explodes, Holmes turns on his lantern resulting in Watson being temporarily blinded; you can imagine the excitement and tension all being released into the next paragraph or so of the story. We are now asking ourselves, who the killer is. Is it Dr Roylott, the cheetah or even Helen Stoner? But looking back at the beginning of the story, we are actually told that Roylott was going to die. At the very end, Watson describes Roylott, but we thinks he's still alive - 'beside the table sat Roylott, in a long grey dressing gown...' But we are then told that he is dead, and how he died - a swamp adder had bitten him. At this point in the story, there is still a great deal of tension, as we still have questions we want to ask, for example how exactly did the snake get into the house? Another similarity I found, was that this story had the same kind of ending as 'the Stolen Bacillus', as all of the suspense and tension was released at the very end of the story. This made both of the short stories a great read, as we never really knew what the final outcome of the story was going to be. 3 1 ...read more.

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