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Examine the ways in which the author, creates suspense and tension in ‘The Speckled Band’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the ‘Body Snatcher’ by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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Introduction

Examine the ways in which the author, creates suspense and tension in 'The Speckled Band' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the 'Body Snatcher' by Robert Louis Stevenson Speckled Band The Speckled Band is about an evil stepfather named Dr Roylott who has the intention of murdering his stepdaughter Helen to gain her property, having already murdered her older sister Julia, in a mysterious way. When his younger stepdaughter gets suspicious, as the mysterious circumstances repeated themselves, she contacts Mr Holmes. Mr Holmes tries to help Miss Stoner find out who killed her older sister and what with. In the opening paragraph we are given unanswered questions, which makes the reader feel uncertain of the situation. We are told Holmes only investigates strange cases; this makes the reader wonder what they are going to be learning of. Sherlock Holmes awoke from his sleep earlier than usual, even though he is described as a 'late riser'. This interests the reader because of the sense of urgency, which Homes shows. Miss Stoner is described as wearing 'a black dress and veil'. This makes the reader curious as to why is she wearing black as black usually symbolises death or that a tragedy has happened. Watson and Holmes mention that she is shivering, a sudden twist occurs when the woman replies 'It is not the cold which makes me shiver...it is fear...it is terror'. This reply creates tension and apprehension, we are presented with many unanswered questions, 'Why is she scared' being the main one. This creates suspense and tension because the unanswered questions give us vague details about the whole situation. Miss Stoner had 'prematurely grey hair' this detail was mentioned because sometimes people who have a lot of stress get grey hair prematurely, so the author is trying to emphasise that she is extremely worried about the situation. Also she is described as a 'hunted animal', this emphasises her vulnerability and causes the reader to be uncomfortable. ...read more.

Middle

The author used a very successful red herring; the reader now knows the red herring was the gypsies, because the reader when told of the 'speckled band' in the beginning assumes that it was the gypsies. As the story progresses there are more and more possibilities of the cause of Julia's death, the gypsies being one of many. Holmes solved that the 'saucer of milk' was there to lure the snake, the reader couldn't link these clues together and therefore tension is built up very well. The baboon and cheetah acted as a slight red herring since they made them feel insecure and increased the tension in situations even though they were not involved. The author is successful in keeping suspense and tension all through out the story keeping the reader intrigued and interested. The Body Snatcher A gruesome story about Fettes and Macfarlane dissecting dead bodies at a medical university. Fettes is troubled when he realises the bodies have been murdered, he tells Macfarlane about what he thinks but Macfarlane pays no attention. Fettes is pushed to follow his career and neglects his conscience. Gray is introduced in to the story and seems to have control over Macfarlane; Gray embarrasses him and makes him pay for the bill. Later that night a new body is brought to them and it appears to be Grey. Fettes is suspicious that Macfarlane had killed him and is not sure what to do. Again he doesn't act and follows his career. Fettes and Macfarlane dig up a dead body in the graveyard. On their way back they realise the body had changed to someone else's. They then checked the body's face and it some how was the body of Gray. In the opening paragraph the reader is introduced to Fettes and 'the undertaker, the landlord'. We are told that Fettes is a 'drunken Scotchman and a man of education', he drinks five glasses of rum a night. This makes the reader wonder why Fettes drinks so much. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that Fettes and Macfarlane were digging up dead bodies in a graveyard gives a sense of insecurity. Macfarlane had 'carelessly' flung a stone, which had 'announced the bounding of the lantern down the bank', and now the night fell upon them. This is the peak of suspense. They carried on digging in darkness, this produces and edgy and tense atmosphere. They carry the dead body on their shoulders, which is a very disturbing thing for a person to do and they clearly are distressed about the whole situation. Macfarlane tries to lighten up the atmosphere by and 'ill favoured jest about the farmers wife' but there was just cold silence, this demonstrates how much of a tense atmosphere it is. Louis Stevenson uses the 'dogs howling' to give a spooky feeling and to hint that something is about to happen, so it creates suspense and the reader is uncertain what is going to happen. Since it was raining heavily it made the outline of the body underneath the bag, this shows how much of a terrifying experience it must have been for Fettes and Macfarlane. They are described as being 'motionless' and 'they tightened the white skin' on the faces', this emphasises how much of a shock it is for them and how they are horrified. Macfarlane notices that it's not a woman, and Fettes replies that 'it was a woman'. An incredibly tense atmosphere is created. The reader is fascinated and drawn into the story even more. The author doesn't reveal the identity of the body until the last moment, thereby keeping the tense atmosphere. The panic of the horse and the lamp being smashed emphasises the shocking twist at the end, it was Gray's body. The reader is wondering how did the body get there? It leaves the reader thinking for reasons. Louis Stevenson leaves the reader feeling uncertain as to what had just happened, which leaves the reader frustrated and confused. Therefore he is successful in creating suspense and tension in the story and maintains it all through the story. Fezan Shakir 10HM - 1 - ...read more.

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