English coursework : A comparative essay on 2 Sherlock Holmes stories The world has chosen to remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chiefly for his creation of the fictional master detective, Sherlock Holmes. This prestigious character has been hugely popular for over one hundred years shown in many different ways, whether it be books, television series, magazine articles, and so on. Conan Doyle himself was born in Edinburgh, rather than the London setting that Sherlock Holmes lives and works. He actually set out to be an oculist, however when no patients came he had plenty of time to write his stories. Around the same time, The Strand magazine was first published, and Sherlock Holmes was printed for the first time in its pages. His stories were not long enough to be books of their own, and thrived as a regular part of their magazine.
The Sherlock Holmes stories are written in a very upper class setting. Watson and Holmes take cabs everywhere, and have very high class mannerisms and habits, such as leaving a calling card if the person they have visited is not there. And Holmes himself carries round a cane with him – a rather posh acquirement thought to be that of a gentleman. They also have a resident in the home to look after them both, and take care of the household, which could of course only be afforded by those of the higher class. The fact that these stories were written in such a way is easily explained. The stories were written for the magazine, ‘The Strand’. In those times, very little people read magazines, and could afford to subscribe. Most people read newspapers, but these magazines were aimed at the higher class, and particularly for the gentleman, because a very small number of women were expected to be able to read, and so they did not benefit from such a publication.
“The Speckled Band” and, “The Red-Headed League” are both very interesting stories. The structures of both are much the same, but that accounts for all of Conan Doyle’s creations in accordance to the Sherlock Holmes stories. In accordance to this structure, “The Speckled Band” begins with a visit to the house from someone needing Holmes’s help.
An element included right at the beginning of the story is the deduction Holmes makes of Helen. This is extremely typical of Conan Doyle as it is a feature he nearly always adds as each of his stories unfold. In “The Speckled Band” Holmes instantly deduces that she travelled early by dog cart on heavy roads to the station before travelling by train to London. The next lines describe Helen giving ‘a violent start’ and staring at Holmes in bewilderment.
This is also underlyingly very typical of Conan Doyle to include such a description, as it what he includes in all of his stories at this point. In direct comparison, “The Red Headed League” features a swift deduction of Jabez Wilson in which he concludes that the man done at some point manual labour, takes snuff, has a freemason, has been in China, and has done a considerable amount of writing recently.
The line directly following on from that is set out exactly the same as in “The Speckled Band” and describes Jabez to “Start up in his chair, with his forefinger upon the paper, but his eyes upon Holmes” So we can conclude from this that this is an element Conan Doyle likes to include in his stories which also suitably gives a first time reader an idea of the way Holmes’s mind works. Following on from that, a long monologue is heard which tells every detail of the story. This is unusual in stories written now. We can note that in real life no one tells a story in such detail, uninterrupted, and this reflects tracts of today. But it is actually very typical of writings at the time.