By completing some further research on the Internet, I ascertained that Holmes’ character was actually modelled on the mentor of Doyle, Dr Joseph Bell: Doyle admired the work of Dr. Bell who utilized observation and logic in the medical field. Doyle decided to mimic the methods of Dr. Bell when he developed his fictional detective. Doyle was always adamant that Holmes was indeed, based on Dr. Bell.
The readers of the stories would have been aware of this, allowing them to relate to the story. Another method that Doyle uses to allow the reader to relate to the characters is by using a narrator, Watson. His hugely biased view tells of Holmes’ brilliance, and at the same time allows an insight into the mind of the hero, and with it the attitudes of the people at that time. For this reason, Watson is used cunningly to reflect the era.
In stark contrast to Holmes’ debonair attitude, Reseck is much more down-to-earth, and works by very different methods. He is not an intellectual, but works impulsively, as did many people at that time. He works quietly in the background, and is an introvert loner. He works alone, (without a sidekick, unlike Holmes) and he “always knew if anybody was close to him”. The distance he keeps to his own family, especially Al, his brother, shows this wish for solitude. This attitude is the opposite of the eccentric Holmes who can always be seen and heard. These differing attitudes significantly reflect the eras; the confidence of Victorian England versus the seclusion of Prohibition U.S.A. Chandler reflects this isolation by using derisive adverbs to describe Reseck, such as mockingly and gravely. As mentioned above, Holmes appears to be flawless. In contrast, Reseck is shown to be human and fallible by the elk’s tooth that he relies upon for good luck. Despite this, he is not inferior to Holmes, but is the result of a very grave time.
Chandler does not describe Reseck as an attractive man. He says Reseck is: Short, pale, and paunchy middle-aged man The reason for this is that readers from that time could not relate to a flawless, attractive man. Chandler has used an ugly character to achieve this. In addition, Reseck’s sleight-of-hand shows the need for being alert in an opportunist time. Al, Tony’s brother, sums Reseck up when he says: You take it slow In summary, the characters are greatly different. Where Holmes is elegant, handsome and arrogant, Reseck is paunchy, quiet and thoughtful in his actions.
When further analysing the characters, much can be achieved by comparing them to their arch-villain. This will help in analysing the two eras. Holmes’ arch villain is Dr Grimesby-Roylott. The two men are greatly different, with Holmes plotting his brains against Grimesby-Roylott’s brawn. The two confront each other only once, with Holmes naturally coming out on top. This was when Grimesby-Roylott challenged Holmes in his Baker Street office. Holmes is undaunted by his enemy’s aggressive attitude, and shows utter contempt to his threats. This is demonstrated when he ridicules the aggressive Grimesby-Roylott: “What has she been saying to you?” screamed the old man furiously. “But I have heard that the crocuses promise well,” continued my companion imperturbably.
Grimesby-Roylott then attempts to use his strength to scare the composed Holmes. He bends a poker then hurls it into the fire. Holmes, unconcerned, then picks the poker up and unbends it with ease: “I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own.” This reinforces the idea of Holmes’ superiority over everyone else. This symbolism is a precursor to the end of the tale, and the reader knows that Holmes will eventually prevail over his enemy. In I’ll be Waiting, there is no arch villain, hinting at the corruptness of the times. However, when Reseck meets with another character, Al, he is insulted, and in the end is seen to be inferior. Al calls Tony his “little fat brother”, which is obviously derogatory. Reseck does not have the same superiority over others as Holmes, which shows how different the times and self-esteem of the characters are.
As well as the heroes that are portrayed in the stories, the language and accents that are used also depict the eras. In Holmes’ Baker Street location, he speaks in very proper English, again trying to reinforce his superiority. He is suave and soothing, speaking in a cultured accent, especially when talking to Helen Stoner. He uses archaic language, such as ‘pray’, and never abbreviates his words. All sentences are grammatically correct, and often contain archaic clauses. An example of this is: And now, Watson, this is too serious for dawdling, especially as the old man is aware that we are interesting ourselves in his affairs; so if you are ready, we shall call a cab and drive to Waterloo.
Reseck, in contrast, speaks in argot, slick language. There are many slang words and phrases that he uses. Examples of this are: The guy stopped the big one. Cold. And Talk it up copper. My mind reader just quit. Other cynical wisecracks show the alertness and the need for being streetwise in such an opportunist time. His accent is also colloquial, showing the lower class of people he deals with, compared to Holmes’ London. The settings of these stories show where the interest of the people lay, and can give an insight into life at that time.
Location also plays an important role in reflecting the times. The Speckled Band is set in bachelor rooms in Baker Street London, a very affluent area of West London. This shows the prosperity and superiority of Holmes, and with it his success in life. The second part of the story in set in an English country mansion, again an affluent location. The admiration that the Victorian people had for the rich and successful in life, envying them greatly is demonstrated by this.
In contrast, I’ll be Waiting is set in a seedy and dangerous world, in a crime-ridden inner city, controlled by gangs running the illegal alcohol trade. An example of this is the ‘Trouble Boys’ who are stereotypical gang-members of that time. They use colloquial language and the way that they turn their collars up and hide in the shadows indicate to the reader that they are clichï¿½d criminals. Reseck works in a hotel called the Windermere Hotel, another undesirable location. I’ll be Waiting appeals to 1940’s readers, as they had more interest in the reality of life, rather than on the lives of the rich aristocracy.