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Suspense in The Speckled Band.

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Introduction

Suspense in The Speckled Band The Sherlock Holmes' mysteries, written by Arthur Conan Doyle in the nineteenth century, were serialised in magazines and they became incredibly popular. 'The Speckled Band' focuses on the Roylott family, of Stoke Moran in Surrey. The family includes twin sisters Julia and Helen Stoner, and their stepfather Dr Grimesby Roylott. The readers' first impression of Helen Stoner is that she is grieving over someone's death, due to her appearance. She is "dressed in black and heavily veiled". The reader is encouraged to feel sympathy for Helen Stoner and anxious to find out who has died and how, as she is clearly in mourning. The simile used to portray her fear and agitation suggests she is weak and vulnerable, maybe even the next victim. "Restless frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal", indicates to the reader how she is being "hunted" like some kind of prey. This assists in building the suspense, as the reader is unaware of the details of the death, it is still a mystery. ...read more.

Middle

By doing so, there is a build up of suspense for the reader, as it is apparent the reader will soon discover the mystery, which has been troubling Helen Stoner. The reader's first impression of Dr Roylott is that he is better then his relatives and he will do the "right thing" with his life, as he has a medical degree, and a large practice in Calcutta. This however is a false impression of Dr Roylott, as he "beat his native butler to death", in a fit of anger. And later on, "he became the terror of the village". This allows the reader to become suspicious, and link him to Helen Stoner's fear, and maybe even the murder. During his time in Calcutta, exotic animals, particular species being sent to Stoke Moran, fascinated Dr Roylott. For the duration of Holmes' investigation, a cheetah and baboon roam around the Manor House. Dr Roylott also allows Gypsies to wander freely over his grounds. Both these factors create tension for the reader, encouraging them to read more of this mystery. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, while Sherlock Holmes and Watson are walking on Manor House grounds, "a hideous and distorted child" surprises them, and the reader, by jolting out of the bushes. The reader is intrigued to find out what this "distorted child" is, and within a few minutes of meeting this creature, the reader is reminded that roaming the ground is a Baboon. Conan Doyle's technique of using darkness throughout The Speckled Band creates tension, and this appears to the readers' senses. The imagery of the "distorted child" affects the reader's sight, as they become more aware of their surroundings. The "cat-like whine" appears the reader's sound sense, as the reader can hear things, but they cannot see them, and this would make the reader nervous. Therefore they are encouraged to read further on. The things, such as "chill wind", affect the readers' touch sense. The blustery weather builds more suspense as it implies the image of a cold, dark, windy night. Almost as though something bad is about to happen. All of the senses are appealed to, and therefore the readers are able to feel more involved and believe they are included in the mystery. ...read more.

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