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From your study of three Sherlock Holmes cases, what do you consider to be the key components of detective fiction and to what extent do the stories appeal to the modern reader?

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Introduction

From your study of three Sherlock Holmes cases, what do you consider to be the key components of detective fiction and to what extent do the stories appeal to the modern reader? The three cases that I have studied are The Adventure of Silver Blaze, The Red-Headed League and The Adventure of The Speckled Band. Conan Doyle was a very early detective fiction writer, if not the earliest. He based his Sherlock Holmes stories on his professor at Edinburgh University, Joseph Bell. Doyle graduated as a doctor but apparently wasn't very successful and took to writing. The Victorians were very interested in the science of crimes; this is why Sherlock Holmes was so successful; Doyle wrote exactly what the public wanted. Doyle solved a real crime where George Adalgy was wrongly accused of mutilating horses; this could have been the inspiration for Silver Blaze. Holmes uses his experiences in life and incorporates them into his stories. One key factor of detective fiction is the setting; Doyle uses the settings in his stories to reflect the emotion of the crime. In The Adventure of Silver Blaze the setting is Dartmoor, Dartmoor is a "Sparsely inhabited" area of England, it is the perfect setting for crime and it says this in the text, "the moor is a complete wilderness, inhabited only by a few roaming gypsies". ...read more.

Middle

This clue led Sherlock Holmes to the result but may not have been as obvious to the reader. In the Speckled band there were many clues such as the "charred stump of a match" in Julia's right hand and a match-box in her left. This meant that Julia looked about when the alarm took place. Also the whistling at the dead of the night is a very unclear clue or a red herring; it could have led the reader to believe that the whistling was caused by the roaming gypsies. Conan Doyle uses clues to get the reader involved and feel part of the story, also the reader would feel satisfaction from solving a case, and feel as though he is like Holmes rather than Watson. The clues are not too obvious so that the reader feels like he/she is being challenged, if the crime is obvious then the reader won't feel as though he/she's achieved anything therefore won't have enjoyed the story. The same method is used in modern detective fictions and is one of the most important elements of a detective fiction. An additional key component of detective fiction is 'how the crime was done' not just who did it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shortly after Watson introduces the story in Silver Blaze he says to Holmes "I should be most happy to go down with you if I should not be in the way". Watson appears inferior to Holmes from the start of the story and this makes the reader respect Holmes. One factor about Doyle's stories that would not work today is how women are seen to be inferior to men. If any women appear in the stories they are usually maids or clients in need of Holmes, for example Helen Stoner is in a "pitiable state of agitation". Looking through the text in The Red-Headed League it is very difficult to find a woman even mentioned. In modern day detective fiction women are always involved and seen equal to men (however I haven't seen one that has a women as a main character). All of the techniques that I have mentioned in Sherlock Holmes are needed in detective fiction. Aspects of the novels should be kept in all detective fictions as they are proven to be the most successful. The fact that The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes were set in the Victorian times does not change anything. Modern detective fiction still uses all of these components and Sherlock Holmes is the reason why they are successful. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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