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Looking at 'the Speckled band' and two other stories, comment on the way Conan Doyle develops his central character, Sherlock Holmes as the popular detective, giving him lasting appeal from Victorian times, to the present day.

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Introduction

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Prose Study Coursework Emma Chapman 11c1 Looking at 'the Speckled band' and two other stories, comment on the way Conan Doyle develops his central character, Sherlock Holmes as the popular detective, giving him lasting appeal from Victorian times, to the present day. The 'detective' genre is intriguing to readers as it keeps them in suspense by telling them clues but never telling them enough to give the story away. Red herrings are also used to 'throw' the reader off the plot or to mislead them. The detective genre is usually seen as unique and eccentric. A British police force didn't actually begin until 1829 when Robert Peel founded the Metropolitan Police. Before that there were watchmen and constables. In London there were large areas that were only inhabited by criminals. Many criminals that were arrested never reached prison and burglary was a daily occurrence. Police officers walked around with lanterns and sticks, which weren't very useful. William Sherlock Scott Holmes was 'born' on 6th January 1854 and for more than a century his name has been known throughout the world and not only for his original and unforgettable name, but his appearance too. He is described as having hawk like features, with a thin narrow face framed by dark hair and heavy brows over piercing eyes. Outdoor wear consisted of a suit of the period, cloak/cape, deerstalker hat, walking cane and his beloved pipe. ...read more.

Middle

The question was 'How could he afford it?' P.G. Woodhouse came to the conclusion that Holmes had some other source of income, something big and non-taxable. Crime. A field, which could get him a lot of money and knowing the mistakes that criminals usually make, he could easily avoid them. The stories today are still original and unpredictable. Usually you can determine the end of the story with modern fiction, but with most of these stories, you don't know what's going to happen next. 'The Speckled Band' is about a cruel stepfather (Dr. Roylott) who is intent on murdering his stepdaughters to acquire their property. He succeeds in murdering his eldest stepdaughter, Julia under mysterious circumstances. When his younger stepdaughter, Helen, gets suspicious as circumstances start to repeat themselves, she contacts Sherlock Holmes to help her to find out whether her sister's death was a murder and if so, the identity of the murderer. Mr. Roylott then tries to use an Indian snake to murder Helen and during the climax the snake bites Mr. Roylott himself. In this story the villain is a very different sort of character. Dr. Roylott appears to us for the first time in Holmes' doorway. 'So tall was he that the top of his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to span across it from side to side.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Using little but important description, he is able to build up a powerful image that has the ability to shock the reader. It is instantly believable and this serves the purpose of calming the reader into a false sense of security. When the whole truth is finally revealed it is more stunning and much more successful in entertaining the reader. The language of the time seemed to be as formal and as accurate English as it could be and much less slang was used. Holmes and Watson speak very typically 'posh' English. Using a language like this gives the stories the atmosphere of that time. Conan Doyle established a tradition of detective fiction and as a result Sherlock Holmes became one of the most famous and popular detectives. When Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, the public was devastated to read about the death of the detective. Men in London wore black armbands as a mark of protest. It got so bad that Conan Doyle even received death threats and as a result he re-introduced Sherlock Holmes. This just shows how popular, realistic and believable the Sherlock Holmes stories really are. The reason why Sherlock Holmes stories are popular is because of their fascinating and realistic characters and settings. The stories are very descriptive and it gives you a clear picture of what is happening in them. The settings create an entrancing and mysterious atmosphere from a fascinating period in time for the reader to be drawn into. ...read more.

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