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Sherlock Holmes Uses of Settings

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Discuss Conan Doyle's use of setting in three Sherlock Holmes stories. When using a story, the author has to create a setting. In Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle uses London as the base and main setting for most of his stories. By using an appropriate setting and describing it in proper detail, the author can create a feeling of absolutely anything and everything. In this essay, I shall look at how Conan Doyle used settings to stylise and narrate his stories. In "The Speckled Band", the main character that is described is Dr. Roylott; the villain. He lives in a village called Stoke Moran, which seems to inject a feeling of tension and uneasiness. I believe Conan Doyle used this name to create a tense atmosphere to 'help' the reader dislike Dr Roylott and this feeling is helped by the fact that the Doctor keeps wild animals on his grounds. Though a red-herring, it builds up tension and suspense and aids the reader in coming to the conclusion that Roylott is evil. The doctor lives in a manor that is portrayed as a neglected building: "The building was of grey lichen-blocked stone, with a high central portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown on each side." ...read more.


In "The Final Problem", there is a whole change of atmosphere as Holmes flees to the continent for the sake of his own life. Throughout the story, there is a recurring theme of close calls and near misses. There are many such incidents, mainly when Moriarty just missed the pair on the train, but the biggest has to be when Watson and Holmes reach the Reichenbach Falls. Holmes is in unfamiliar territory and so does not have the upper hand. In "The Man with The Twisted Lip", the atmosphere is ironic as the main setting is that of an opium den (which was legal in the Victorian times) and the "villain" - Neville St. Clair" was a posh man; living in a large house outside of the city with a wife and two young children. He found that he made more money by begging rather than actually working. The only man who knew the truth, besides him, was the Lascar that St. Clair had bribed. The Opium den was in Upper Swandam Lane which was described as "a vile alley lurking behind the high wharves which line the North side of the river. ...read more.


Holmes was put into unfamiliar territory at the Reichenbach Falls and so didn't have the upper hand when it came to geographical knowledge. That, coupled with the fact that Holmes was up against a villain (Moriarty) he regarded as his intellectual equal was enough to allow Conan Doyle to dispose of his crime-fighting character. So in conclusion, Conan Doyle uses settings to great affect. He is able to use them to manipulate the atmosphere to create the mood he wants: whether it is happy or sad, tense or relaxed. He can use the setting to help the reader understand the characters more: like in "The Speckled Band", where the description aids the reader in disliking Dr Roylott and in "The Final Problem", where we come across Holmes' intellectual equal - Professor James Moriarty. Conan Doyle also uses the setting and description to help us understand Neville St. Clair. He also uses the setting in helping us understand the purpose of the story, using the Reichenbach Falls as a setting for Sherlock Holmes' "death". Overall, I can say that Conan Doyle can use setting to help the reader understand the story or to aid the story in it's mystery and suspense. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sherlock Holmes English Coursework Page 1 of 3 Denis Twomey 10J Mrs. Taylor 23rd November 2007 ...read more.

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