Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Stories are antiquated with nothing to offer a modern day reader. Arthur Conan Doyle’s distinctive and unique writing style lead to great success beginning in the nineteenth century when he created the original characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. His ingenious stories have had such a major impact on society that they are still significant today. Sherlock Holmes is a difficult character to avoid as he is talked about constantly in the media. Sherlock Holmes stories have been translated into over fifty different worldwide languages and have become very popular nationally and internationally.
These stories are all set in the late nineteenth century in Victorian London where reality consisted of Crime, filth and vast amounts of poverty. The population, overcrowded with prostitutes, beggars and rogues causing problems. Rubbish painted the streets and soot covered each surface. Victorian London was a dreary place and Doyle’s stories were based on reality. This is why everyone found they could relate to them. Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are written in nineteenth century prose. This can be classed as long-winded, arcaic and antiquated by modern day readers. For example “The Boscombe Valley” uses outdated phrases such as “Masters the particulars” which may not be understood today. The sentences can be long winded, become boring and complex. Paragraphs are also stilted.
Today’s Reader may encounter a number of problems when reading Sherlock Holmes stories. As well as language being complex and dated there are no pictures to encourage the imagination or help the reader to understand what is going on. Doyle has been such a successful author that he has influenced subsequent detective fiction writers such as Nevada Barr and Agatha Christie. Even today programmes such as “A Touch of Frost” are influenced by detective stories like Doyle’s. Sherlock Holmes is such a popular character he still influences much today. As I typed in his name my search engine came up with over 21,000 websites!
Sherlock Holmes is still extremely popular. A detective story is full of anticipation and suspense. They cause the reader keep questioning their own mind. Who did it? How did they do it? This makes them carry on reading and make the book interesting and enjoyable. As well as this Doyle uses many features to keep the reader interested. Atmosphere plays a huge part in each story. The Speckled Band creates atmosphere well by using speech and adjectives.
Adjectives are used such as “terror” “ferocious” “disgraceful brawls” to create a possibly stereotypical horror type atmosphere. “I’ve got nobody to turn to” This gives the story a mysterious atmosphere where odd things are happening. “Dense darkness” is also used which creates a scary impression of the atmosphere. “Cat like whine” is also very atmospheric. “The man with the twisted lip” also uses fantastic adjectives to help create atmosphere such as “Bile shot eyes” which creates a horror movie like atmosphere.
Suspense also plays a major part in the success of Doyle’s stories. I think that Doyle builds up suspense by using clues to solve the mystery but not letting the reader know until the end. “The speckled Band” builds up suspense slowly. Near the beginning the sister died two weeks after she got engaged this gives an idea for a motive has been established. We can then deduce the reason on page 177. On page 177 the motive is identified about the annual allowance. Then again on page 186 the motive is reinforced because Holmes goes to get a copy of the will. When the lady’s sister died she mentioned the line “it was the speckled band” This makes us wonder throughout the story, what is the speckled band?
The video of “The speckled Band” also showed a scene where the clock moved hour-by-hour implying the time was going extremely slowly building up suspense. In the “Red Headed League” clues are planted. The use of “Red herrings Descriptions of London life included mentions of Crime, middle class people, drugs and Dens. At that time Dens were not illegal and were on the fringe of society. “The Red Headed League” mentions ” the roadway blocked with the immense stream of commerce” “Footpaths were black with the hurrying swarm of pedestrians”. It even mentions specific names such as “Saxe Coburg Square”
The way Holmes deduces the answer to each crime is very logical and quite outstanding. In “The Boscombe Valley” Holmes starts by using the newspaper to find out facts about the crime. The newspaper is a highly detailed account, which is very unusual nowadays. We use different sources of the media to work out for ourselves what is going on; but rarely from just a newspaper. Holmes is a very observational character. He does only observe but today people generally take photographic evidence. Holmes gathers evidence by “acute” observation as he has no cameras and collects no forensic evidence. On page 93 when Holmes goes to observe clues at the crime scene it has just finished raining. “So moist was the ground that I could plainly see the traces which had been left by the fall of the stricken man”.
Usually in present time people would have taped off the crime scene and studied it before it rained or any evidence became contaminated by other people. However here it seems like other people have already been onto the crime scene which could lead to contaminated evidence “oh, how simple it would have been had I been here before they came like a herd of buffalo” but Holmes still manages to solve the crime just by logical observation and no scientific reasoning. ”
Twice he was walking, and once he ran swiftly so that the soles are deeply marked, and the heels hardly visible. That bears out his story. He ran when he saw his father on the ground”. Just by commonsensical observation he managed to deduce this. On page 94 he knows what he is looking for when he specifies the exact description of the murderer. “Is a tall man, left handed, limps with the right leg…”. This makes the reader wonder all along, how does Holmes know this? The case is slowly unravelled and the clues all return and fit into the sequence.
On the other hand Holmes’ methods of observation are still relevant today however more scientific evidence and backups are needed. But Holmes uses logic as we do today and he can be quite scientific. This keeps the reader interested. The use of language creates atmosphere and contributes to the popularity of these books. Weather in each of these stories is rather stereotypical but effective as it helps create atmosphere.