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Explain what makes a good mystery story, based on your understanding of 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells, 'The Speckled Band' by Arthur Conan Doyle and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens.

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Explain what makes a good mystery story, based on your understanding of 'The Red Room' by H.G. Wells, 'The Speckled Band' by Arthur Conan Doyle and 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens. Introduction In the following essay I intend to analyse the three short mystery stories, 'The Red Room', 'The Speckled Band' and 'The Signalman'. For each of the three stories I will explain how mystery and suspense is created with the use of language, characters, and setting. The Victorian era was a period of dramatic change with the advancement in industry, science, technology, medicine and travel and there was a growing interest in the supernatural, which is reflected throughout the three short stories I have decided to analyse. Each of the three stories is based on these changes in their own different ways which made them popular amongst the audience of the Victorian period. Ghost stories were most popular in the Victorian era around the gothic genre. The setting was most likely to be in an old house or building, a graveyard or somewhere secluded. Pathetic fallacy was often used to create a gloomy atmosphere. The horror or ghost in the story was often not fully described, leaving room for the readers own interpretations. The victim was most likely to be someone sensible and blind to the supernatural, which is reflected in the Red Room as a scientist tries to unfold the mystery of the Red Room. In the red room H. G. Wells keeps the reader in the dark about what is happening. The narrator in 'The Red Room' does not know what is happening. This is how the gothic elements introduced as soon as the story begins by H. G. Wells give an intense and unpredictable atmosphere. Arthur Conan Doyle's story, 'The Speckled Band' is based in nineteenth century Victorian England. This time period was one of confidence, as Britain became a major power in Europe and indeed the world. ...read more.


There is a traditional configuration for the detective story genre. It should begin with an introductory scene to set the mood and path for the story to unfold out onto. The detective's sidekick usually narrates the story or somebody involved in the story but who isn't presented with all of the facts so that we, the readers do not have all the facts. Then comes the mystery. The clues are presented to the reader along with red herrings to trick the reader and prove the detective more intellectual and worthy of his title when he dismisses them. Then the confrontation takes place after sufficient suspense. This is traditionally very dramatic leaving the reader in the dark until the final moment. Then the solution of the case takes place with the unravelling of the case from start to finish. This is usually done by the detective. It reveals the true events to the reader so at the end of the story nothing is left unanswered and the case is truly closed. 'The Speckled Band' is a typical reflection of this basic structure. It is written with the sidekick Watson reminiscing over an old case that he has recorded. He then proceeds throughout the story as the narrator along with Helen Stoner. We see the case and its clues through their eyes so we are restricted by the author to only the clues that Watson and Helen are presented with. If Holmes was narrating the story, the reader would too easily pick up the solution of the case as his mind works differently to that of Watson's. The result of having both Helen's and Watson's accounts of the case means we can get a wider picture of the case and also relate to Helen's fear and need for help. The use of flashbacks helps give a wider picture of the case when Helen is reliving the memory of the death of her sister. ...read more.


Conan Doyle uses his cast as they can be paralleled to the stereotypical characters of a detective story. The detective and his sidekick are Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Throughout the story Holmes fills our every expectation of a successful detective, assessing evidence, confronting danger, drawing fascinating but accurate conclusions that we as a reader feel as though we could never have interpreted and coming out as the hero at the end. He seems to give himself no constraints as to who the murderer is and how he did it. In conclusion to my essay, I firmly believe that these three stories have been a cornerstone and also a revolution of the entire mystery story genre. I personally feel 'The Speckled Band' is the best because it uses a variety of mystery genre linguistic techniques to create an appropriate effect that keeps the reader embedded in the plot and the surroundings. In 'The Speckled Band' I was intrigued by the details and how they would all fit into the solution. For example the vivid description of Dr Roylott's last scream, the remainder was an anti-climax. The element of suspense also helped to make me want to read on. This was aided by the character of Dr Watson, when Holmes speaks to him he leaves out key details which create suspense. Watson is almost like the reader - left in the dark but desperate to reach a solution. I feel that 'The Red Room' would have still been good, but not as excellent if they didn't contain the first person narrative, this helps the reader to establish the events more quickly and more emotions are fed through the narrator than it would if it was written in third person. 'The Signalman' seemed a little unrealistic to me. I didn't enjoy it because it left many unanswered questions. However, I feel that all three are of superb quality and it is the intertwining of the reader's imagination and hardcore reality that makes these mystery stories so effective and revolutionary. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mystery Stories Coursework Miss Iqbal Set 1 Saira Javed 1 ...read more.

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