Read ‘The Speckled Band’ by A. Conan. Doyle and ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs. Discuss how the authors create tension and discuss the devices Used to mislead the reader.
‘The Speckled Band’ by A. Conan. Doyle and ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacobs are two very different stories; ‘The Speckled Band’ follows the ‘murder mystery’ line whereas ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ is based more around horror genre. This means that they will create tension and mislead the reader in completely different ways. In this essay I am going to explore how the two authors do this, and compare their methods for doing so.
Arthur Conan Doyle creates tension in many ways. At the beginning of ‘The Speckled Band’, he creates tension by showing the effects of this dreadful crime on the characters. We are told Sherlock is usually a ‘late riser’, however, because of this new case, his routine was broken because at a quarter-past seven, Watson awakes to find Sherlock Holmes, fully dressed, standing by the side of his bed. Helen Stoner, the client who sought Holmes’ services as a detective, when speaking to Sherlock and Watson, was shivering, not from the cold as one would first assume, but from fear. The way she says “It is not cold which makes me shiver. It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror,” creates tension because she first says what does not make her shiver as if holding off telling them, and then, using short sentences, she repeats the two words, ‘it is’. These two events evoke tension because these events are directly linked to this one case which at this point, we still do not know about.
The location of this suspicious death, the austere house of Stake Moran which “was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab.” Only three people live in this spooky house. It seems rather odd that in this grand manor house only three people live. Everyone can empathise with the fact that being alone in a large house is incredibly scary, so, you feel scared for these three people, and this then creates tension.
The mysterious Dr. Roylott, having spent a lot of time in India, lets a cheetah and a baboon roam the house. This strange assortment of animals creates tension as it seems strange that such a vicious animal (the cheetah) would be allowed to roam the house. And on top of this all the rooms are barred, “the windows were blocked by old-fashioned shutters with broad iron bars. The chimney is wide, but is barred up by four large staples. This creates tension and portrays the rooms as cells, trapping them. It is a sinister thought that these three people are trapped within this house which has a cheetah and a baboon roaming around.