The Changes that took place in English SocietyDuring the Holmes and Watson era.
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Daniel Ellis 10TYL/10C1 Ms Wilby, English The Changes that took place in English Society During the Holmes and Watson era. From reading the "Sherlock Holmes" stories "The Speckled Band" and "The Final Problem" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I have found that the English Society and Lifestyles changed over the course of the thirty-five years in which the stories were written. Throughout this essay I will discuss points which will be relevant to the changes of English Society and lifestyles through this period of time. These will be the following points I will discuss about each book: ? The sort of life led by Holmes and Watson ? The different lifestyles of the people they encounter ? The place of servants ? The role of women ? Details of public life, such as politics, law and order, etc. ? Details of everyday life, such as systems of communication and transport, new technology, etc. The Speckled Band The sort of lives led by Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are of a middle class standard; an example of this could be the language they use with each other: "This is my intimate friend and associate, Dr Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before myself". (Pg.50). The pair together earn considerable amounts of money as Holmes has a private income and Watson is a Doctor, which is seen as a respectable profession.
Poisons were limited because medical knowledge in science was limited and had not been developed. Also there was a limited amount of poisons around: "The idea of using...poison which could not...be discovered by any chemical test was...one as would occur to a clever and ruthless man who had...Eastern training." (Pg.73) This meant that the coroner could not find any trace of poison because this particular type was unknown. A common mode of transport is the dogcart: "You must have started early...you had a good drive in a dogcart...before you reached the station". (Pg. 50) Miss Stoner explains to Holmes how she travelled that day: "The...arm of your jacket is spattered with mud...There is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way." (Pg.50) Again this proves how Miss Stoner travelled and that she did travel that day. Bell Pulls are still common to use to summon servants or butlers or maids on hand: "...a thick bell-rope...hung down beside the bed, the tassel actually lying upon the pillow, "It goes to the housekeeper's room." (Pg.64). At the moment electricity was not invented. In rare parts of the UK, was there electricity. If and when it was it was not widely available: "...the lamp was lit in one of the sitting rooms." (Pg.67) "By it he laid the box of matches and the stump of a candle."
Watson being the man he was would tremble at the fact that a woman wanted him. The running off of Watson to see the ill woman is an action he is indirectly liable for Holmes' anticipated death, here by the author women are seen as trouble in this day and age. Moriarty and Holmes leave tracks after their struggle which ended in fate, Watson explains this: "An examination by experts leaves little doubt that a personal contest between the two men ended... in their reeling over." (Pg.136) This indicates that forensic science is now revolutionised. Clues and traces that are left by crimes would have been impossible to solve. Transport has developed from Holmes stories at the beginning. With this being the "supposed" death of Holmes they, Holmes and Watson, took the train to escape from Professor Moriarty. Their train travel was not as limited back then, as it now is the 21st century; also Holmes and Watson looked to have travelled far into the Continent in their success to be free of Holmes' arch rival enemy Professor Moriarty: "...we wandered... the Valley of the Rhone... branching off at Leuk... made our way over the Gemmi Pass... by way of Interlaken, to Meiringen." (Pg.133) Sherlock Holmes stories were of a highly popular series, which were loved by the whole nation. It turned Holmes into the most popular fictional detective in the UK. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a dramatic affect with the nation and these stories which were widely read.
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