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Sherlock Holmes essay Compare the two short stories Man with the twisted lip and The Speckled band

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What do you learn about Detective Fiction in nineteenth century from a comparison of short stories "The Speckled Band" and "The Man with the twisted lip" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was among the first writers of detective stories and novels in England. The first novel recognised as a detective story was written in 1868, by Wilkie Collins entitled "The Moonstone". Other writers followed and started writing detective fiction such as people like Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie. One of the main ones was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the "Sherlock Holmes stories". He first wrote in a weekly magazine called the "Strand", the public loved these stories, and eventually they were published as books. The character of "Sherlock Holmes" was so convincing that people actually thought he existed, this shows that the writer developed his character well. In the 20th Century Detective fiction got so popular it started being shown on TV and there were many famous pairs such as Inspector Poirot and Hastings, and Jonathan Creek and Maddie Magellan. They all work as pairs, like Holmes" and "Watson. Arthur Conan Doyle's character, "Sherlock Holmes", lived in Victorian London during the 19th century. His stories are set in a dark and isolated environment. The atmosphere is far from welcoming. The streets are overrun with crime, beggars and prostitutes and seedy areas like the "opium den" in "Man with the twisted lip". The gas lamps provided dimly lit streets which flickered as passer-by walked on their way and the odour through the air was vile. This was the result of no sewage system and low levels of hygiene. The two main criminals at this time was "Sweeney Todd", a barber famous for cutting his victims throats and turning them into meat pies, and "Jack the Ripper", who mutilated and murdered prostitutes and whom was never discovered. Because of this the public was interested in crime. ...read more.


This proved to the Inspector that "that the matter was serious" this is because Lascar and Boone had denied anyone had been in the front room that afternoon. This led the rooms to be more carefully examined and further clues were discovered. "On examination traces of blood were to be seen upon the window sill and several scattered drops were visible upon the wooden floor of the bedroom" and blood was found on Boone "upon his right shirt-sleeve" but this was explained by Boone from a cut near nail of his ring finger. Items of Mr St Clair's clothing were also found within the room "His boots, socks, hat and his watch were all there" but Boone denied ever seeing Mr St Clair "and swore that the presence of the cloths in his room was as much a mystery to him as to the police". Along with these clues were red-herrings, in the form of the two men present at the scene of the disappearance, Lascar and Boone. Lascar was the proprietor of the rooms and had stopped Mrs St Clair entering the room where she had last seen her husband. "She met this Lascar scoundrel, of whom I have spoken, who thrust her back, and aided by a Dane, who acts as assistant there, pushed her down the stairs" as described by Holmes to Watson. Lascar was also known "to be a man of the vilest antecedents". Although there are concerns about this character it was apparent that he could not have been involved in the crime as he was at the foot of the stairs seconds after the appearance of her husband. Hugh Boone the "sinister cripple" was inside the room where Mr St Clair was last seen, he was found by Mrs St Clair, an inspector and two constables. Boone "was certainly the last human being whose eyes arrested upon Neville St Clair". ...read more.


"The Speckled Band" ends with the death of Dr Roylott who is killed by the swamp adder. In "The Man with the twisted Lip" the ending concludes a successful piece of investigative work by Holmes and Watson as they restored the normal everyday life of Mr and Mrs Neville St Clair. Apart from Mr St Clair going missing for a few days there is no scandal, as the newspapers do not find out the facts behind his disappearance and is wife is not told the true story behind his disappearance. So satisfied in Holmes with the outcome of this investigation that he says to Watson "If we drive to Baker Street we shall be in time for breakfast". The ending to "The Speckled Band" is not happy as it results in the death of Dr Roylott, this does not play on Holmes's his conscience as Dr Roylott is described by Helen Stoner as " a man of immense strength , and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger". An example of this is given "he hurled the local blacksmith over the parapet into a stream". The final sentence of this story ends with Holmes stating that " I am no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr Grimesby Roylott's death ,and I cannot say that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my conscience". To conclude from looking at detective fiction in the nineteenth century and comparing the two short stories above I have been able to examine the winning formula that detective fiction has been written to. This is the way these stories are written to involve the reader in the detective's role of gathering clues, to solve the crime and find the culprit. This method has stood the test of time; in fact detective fiction is probably stronger today than it was in the nineteenth century. This is due to having wider audience as it has been translated into television and its popularity is evident as it scores of highly in the ratings. Harry Johnson 1 ...read more.

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