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In what ways is Dr Roylott a portrait of evil and how does this reflect the fears of the Victorian age?

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Lauryn Clift 10a. 21st December 2000 In what ways is Dr Roylott a portrait of evil and how does this reflect the fears of the Victorian age? The mystery/detection genre focuses on the need to preserve law and order in society. Criminals must be exposed and punished to uphold the controlling influence of right and goodness. Victorian society feared to see the dark elements of human nature, which, displayed in The Speckled Band are exemplified by the character of Dr Roylott. He is portrayed as the very antithesis of the heroic Holmes, the epitome of the Victorian gentleman. Roylott is a man whose behaviour reveals the depths to which human nature could penetrate: brutal, devious and ultimately murderous. Care has been taken by the author in every aspect of the creation of his villain. The Christian name 'Grimesby' aptly reflects the dark and sinister nature within. The connotations of 'Grimesby' are unpleasant: a character blackened with grime: soiled and unclean. His unattractive appearance reinforces the image of a villain. ...read more.


This technique is effective as the villain is seen to be threatening towards the gentleman of the story, Holmes. We learn that he is unchivalrous towards women, terrifying his stepdaughter. Helen tells Holmes, "He is a hard man.... he hardly knows his own strength." Implying Dr Roylott has been violent towards her and other people, and he is uncontrollable in his temper. She reports of his unsociable relationship of the people of Stoke Moran saying, "he is the terror of the village." She speaks of the time he "hurled the local blacksmith over the parapet and into the stream." This is a technique often used by authors; they show their villains uncivil relationships with neighbours or family. Roylott is shown as isolated, with few friends, seen in the company of disreputable, unpleasant people such as the gypsies that inhabit his lawn. Conan Doyle has presented his readers with an appropriately ignoble history, a technique often used to give the impression the villain comes from bad blood. ...read more.


Conan Doyle presents the reader with a house boarded up on one side, where the roof caved in and the windows were broken. This is a picture of ruin and decay, perhaps to reflect Roylott's moral decay. The threat of danger is emphasised by the band of gypsies that inhabit his lawn, and inside the house by the cheetah and baboon that are kept as pets. Dr Roylott is perhaps given such dangerous creatures to show that he too is dangerous. The gypsies are described as "vagabonds" and may be there to show that Roylott is only worthy of friends of the lowest kind. In conclusion, to show Conan Doyle's disapproval of Dr Roylott's nature he is constantly compared unfavourably to Holmes, who is seen as the perfect gentleman of that time. The fact that in the end, it is Holmes that helps Dr Roylott to come to his unfortunate end demonstrates that good always triumphs over evil. Maybe the fact that Roylott is a doctor makes his crimes seem even more severe. He is placed in a position of trust and responsibility and he has abused his position. "When a doctor goes wrong he is the first of criminals." ...read more.

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