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What are the Key elements of the early crime fiction genre as exemplified by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short stories?

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Introduction

What are the Key elements of the early crime fiction genre as exemplified by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short stories? In this essay I shall discuss the key elements that are prominent in the early crime fiction genre as exemplified by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes' short stories. So I have read three short stories and studied them closely, they are as followed, 'The Red-Headed League,' 'The Speckled Band,' and lastly the 'Silver Blaze.' All of theses stories show the key features of early crime fiction, which are; a superbly intelligent sleuth with a unique and distinct character, an exposition, a development of plot, typical characters and villains, clues, red herrings and a denouement. Also prominent in the stories are the characters of Holmes and Watson, social and historical references are also used and the language of the time features. The author of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22nd, 1859 in Edinburgh. His parents were Irish-Catholics who were both very artistic. He married Louise Hawkins in 1883 she was also very intelligent. He was educated in England from the age of 9 till 17. During this time he also excelled in sport. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, alongside other soon-to-be authors James Barrie (aka J. M. Barrie) and Robert Louis Stephenson. One of his lecturers, Dr Joseph Bell, was a master of observation, logic, deduction and diagnosis, and where the idea for Sherlock Holmes was born. His first short story 'the mystery of Sasassa valley' bore much remembrance to his own favourite authors Edgar Allen Poe and Bret Hoarte. It was published in an Edinburgh magazine 'Chamber's Journal.' Later that year 'The American Tale' as published in 'London Society.' When he was 20 he joined a whale hunt in the Arctic, which inspired a later book of his, 'Captain of the Pole Star.' Yet the novel that really boosted his writing credibility was 'Tangled Skein' which characters Sheridan Hope and Ormond Slacker. ...read more.

Middle

He is also very impressed. In the 'Speckled Band.' The villain is Dr Grimsby Roylott, a burley man who had aggressive, violent and even murderous tendencies. His appearance was very stereotypical of a criminal in the Victorian period. He killed his servant whilst living in India. He killed one of his Stepdaughters and attempted to kill his other just to get more money. The victim in this story is Helen Stoner, whose twin sister was murdered and was nearly murdered herself. She came to Holmes and she started to hear the same low him as her sister had told her about before she died. She is still in mourning from her sister's death and so dressed all in black with a black veil. In the 'Silver Blaze' there was not a villain as such, the horse itself committed the murder. The horse only killed John Straker as self-defence as he tried to put him out of play. So John Straker, although was killed was still the villain. We know that he is sneaky and untrustworthy. The victims were both John Straker as he was killed and Colonel Ross as his horse was stolen. He only went to see Holmes as a last resort and believed, as he was not in the police, he was therefore not as capable or reliable. The structure of the stories stays very constant. You are introduced to the crime and new characters, this is the exposition, and Holmes then has a 'thinking period'. We are then given clues and Red Herrings. Finally, all is revealed in the denouement. The exposition is the beginning of a story. Characters are introduced and you find out what has happened up until that point. In these stories the case is presented to Holmes, he then follows by making a hypothesis using what he has found out from his interview. His hypothesis isn't actually revealed, encase his suspicions are false. ...read more.

Conclusion

The clothes worn at the time were very different to what they are now. In the 'Red-Headed League' we are described what Jabez Wilson is wearing in depth. "He wore rather baggy grey shepherd's check trousers, a not over-clean black frock coat, unbuttoned at the top , and a drab waistcoat with a heavy brassy Albert chain, and a square pierced bit of metal dangling down as an ornament. A frayed top-hat, and a faded brown overcoat with a wrinkled velvet collar lay on the chair beside him.' There are various items of clothes in this quote that show clothes of the age. For example, frock coat, this is a suit style coat with tails. These are not worn everyday now and are usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings. Also he wore an Albert chain, which would have been attached to a fob watch, which many people don't wear any more as there are wristwatches. He also has a top hat, which are rarely just worn out. And an overcoat is quite self-explanatory, it is a thicker coat to wear over your suit when you go outside. Another character that shows the dress of the time is Helen Stoner. She wears all black, which was traditional at the time, except with a veil. At the time when a woman was in mourning she wore a veil, Helen was wearing one, as she was still mourning from her sister's death. The Victorians were in mourning for a long time, we know that Helen's sister died 2 years ago, although this isn't that long as the Queen Victoria was in mourning for 50 years! Another reference to the time is the type of transport that they take. They didn't have cars back then so they travelled by either horse-drawn carriages, in the form of Hanson cabs and dogcarts, the other alternative was the train. We don't have the first two any more in wide circulation, a Hanson cab was more enclosed and a dogcart had no roof and was more open. ...read more.

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