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Examine the ways Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adds a sense of mystery and suspense to the typical detective story in the sign of four.

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English: Sign of Four Coursework Examine the ways Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adds a sense of mystery and suspense to the typical detective story in the sign of four. (Write about the mysterious nature of the plot. The exotic nature of the settings, the variety of personalities involved in the story on both major and minor level. The personalities of Holmes and Watson. The way late Victorian society and its attitudes are depicted. Your own response to the book.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle starts the mystery off in the book straight away by just naming the book "The Sign of Four", this encourages the reader to open and start reading the book. He creates suspense in the book by not including us in the crime in the first chapter, which differs from the normal detective story; he chooses to settle you in to the story by introducing you to the characters in the story. We find out that many people respect Holmes. "Mr. Sherlock Holmes-" he began; but the words seem to have a magical effect, for the window instantly slammed shut, and within a minute the door was open. And "A friend of Sherlock Holmes is always welcome," When the author does enter Holmes and Watson in to the crime; he creates suspense by constantly solving bits of the puzzle, and introducing new problems. This also keeps the reader interested in the novel. ...read more.


His intelligence shows again when he produces a likely (correct) storyline. The most obvious difference in society from the 19th century is that the language has changed, sentences are said in different orders and words have "evolved" (e.g. from thus to that). Watson is put in the Sherlock Holmes mysteries so the reader can relate to someone in the book. The reader relates to Watson because he finds out clues or puzzles the same time we do, he also finds out what Holmes is thinking when we do because Doyle chose to have a narrator involved in the story. This allows us to relate well. Watson is a very clever person making the reader relate even better as many people would not think of themselves as stupid. Watson has a personality which is a very calm, respectful, caring and modest. He never questions Holmes but is always mindful of what he is doing and obviously shows great respect for him: "He did not seem offended. On the contrary, he put his fingers together, leaned forward on his chair like one who relishes conversation." Miss Morstan is the typical 19th Century Woman. Very frail, "angelic" woman needed to be protected by a strong man (Watson). Nowadays we would not see women as "frail" or "angelic" they are presumed competent to look after them selves. Doyle having lived in the 19th Century does not hold that opinion of women although unusually places a women at the center of the story. ...read more.


In the book Small is represented in a resentful, unkind manner; and is portrayed as a man who has led a hard and tiring life only wanting justification for his life, receiving what is rightfully his. Going back to the Physiognomy theory a controversial book was published in 1869 called "The Origin of the Species." It followed the widely accepted theory of physiognomy. It made people believe that black people or "savages" were less evolutionally developed than they were. So Smalls' accomplice from the Andaman Islands was viewed as a "savage" as well as being part of the smallest (height-wise) race on the earth. Being that they were "fierce, morose intractable people, with distorted features." However this view was wrong and when you became loyal friends, they were loyal back. In the 19th Century many children did not attend school, either through poverty or they're parents did not want them to go. They were left wandering the streets earning cheap money by doing errands. Sherlock Holmes refers to them as, "His dirty little Lieutenants." He refers to them when he and Watson are hot on the trail of the Small and his accomplish. I enjoyed this book as it differs greatly from the normal detective novels creating suspense, mystery and anxiety. The way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle structured this book was very well done and deserves great praise, it kept me interested all the way through and surprised me one or two times as well. This after all did not conform to my original preconceptions of the book. Peter Simey 4SCW Page 1 of 5 ...read more.

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