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Sherlock Holmes: "The Speckled Band"

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English Literature Coursework GCSE Welsh Board Prose pre 1914 Analyse a Short Story Sherlock Holmes: "The Speckled Band" "The Speckled Band" was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is a murder mystery. It was set in 1883 in a wealthy area of London. It is so realistic that many people believe that Holmes and Watson really did exist. Sherlock Holmes is the detective and, as is usual in this type of story, he has a sidekick. This is Watson who documents the cases in diary form, "The Speckled Band being one entry. The short story begins with Miss Helen Stoner visiting Sherlock Holmes to ask for help with the case of her sister's murder. She tells us the story of how her sister, Julia, was engaged and about to get married. Julia was made to move rooms for unnecessary repairs, which their stepfather had ordered. She then tells of her stepfathers' past and the death of her mother. The stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, had a history of gambling problems and lost a lot of money through his addiction. He ventured to India to continue his profession as a doctor in a small practice. ...read more.


On the night of the murder, Helen heard a whistling, which turns out to be Roylott's signal to the snake and a clanging, which we find out, was the noise from the closing of a safe. These noises help to add mystery and suspense, which keeps the reader guessing. Other clues include a "dummy bell pull" which leads nowhere; a bed "clamped to the floor" and a chair covered in footprints. However, in the midst of these clues Conan Doyle continues to mislead the reader by reference to "gypsies living in the grounds" and makes us wonder if "the speckled band" could be the headscarf or bandana worn by these gypsies. The reader discovers just what Julia meant by her dying words when, at the end, Holmes causes the snake to turn on its master and kill him. Sherlock Holmes is the witty detective who deduces mysteries from minute details and is always correct. He is intelligent but doesn't explain his ideas until they are proven, as even Watson may not understand his way of thinking. Holmes is a very observant man, as parts of the story tell us, for example, at the beginning, when Helen Stoner first visits and is asked "pray draw near [to the fire] as I observe ...read more.


It also reminds us that Holmes is a gentleman of upper class society so therefore does not need to work. One of my favourite scenes in the story is when Holmes and Watson keep watch over Stoke Moran. It illustrates in detail how much danger they thought their lives were actually in. An example from the text could be when Holmes tells Watson not to go to sleep as his "very life may depend on it." Another example is Holmes telling Watson to get his pistol ready in case they need it quickly. This makes us think they are unsafe and there are many ways they are in grave danger. Watson also refers to the whole experience as a "dreadful vigil". I enjoyed this short story because of Conan Doyle's writing methods. I was kept enthralled by his technique of using suspense and 'red herrings'. I think this is a good way of keeping your audience interested in the story as "The Speckled Band" is a complicated tale and needs explaining as well as enjoying. The author kept me interested as well as clarifying the parts I was unsure of by subtly describing events in depth and referring to things previously read in the story. All in all I enjoyed "The Speckled band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Becki O'Brien ...read more.

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