The Victorian age was one with so many changes in society. It was a time of scientific and technological advance which led to old ideas being questioned. Prosperity was limited and there was a growing division between the rich and poor. These changes created the outsiders in society. They were outsiders because they felt that they had no place in society or could not fit into beliefs expected of them. All these five stories: ‘The Red Room’, ‘The Man With The Twisted Lip’, ‘The Terribly Strange Bed’, ‘The Speckled Band’ and ‘The Stolen Bacillus’ involve characters who are outsiders in some way.
The outside in what they believe or in the way they face danger and in the way they are a threat in society. The plot of each story is built around a danger or threat that comes from a character and the danger is overcome by the cleverness of another character(s) whose intelligence defeats the danger.
In ‘The Stolen Bacillus’, the scientist is conducting an experiment into a cure for dangerous diseases which were common in Victorian times. The danger comes from the anarchist who steals what he thinks is a dangerous test tube but it ends up as a harmless substance.
The cleverness of the scientist in suspecting the kind of man the anarchist was avoids the danger. In ‘The Red Room’, what happens coincides with the conflict of ideas in Victorian Society between superstition and science. The old people in the ‘haunted’ house believe that there are ghosts in the red room.
The young man of ‘eight-and-twenty years’ is a great believer in science and is determined to disprove the existence of so-called ghosts. What happens is that though he has not met a ghost, he has a terrifying experience produced by fear.
The two Sherlock Holmes stories are also concerned about with danger, the possibility of crimes and how they can be prevented. Methods of crime detection were not developed and various frightful crimes were committed creating a sense of danger among people. The part that Holmes plays in preventing a crime and in solving the mystery of the missing Mr. Clair would have the readers feeling that though there was danger, they were brave and intelligent people who would deal with it. Dr. Roylott is killed by his own unusual weapon because of what Holmes does and Mr. Clair is saved and his embarrassing secret is not revealed.
In al that, there is danger and threat but they are either overcome or understood. There are some differences in the kind of story that they are. The Stolen Bacillus is a mixture of science fiction and crime. The Red Room is a kind of ghost story. The Sherlock Holmes stories include at least one serious crime and belong to a genre of detective fiction. In each of the stories, the main problem is caused by a character who is an outsider. In the Stolen Bacillus, it is the anarchist. He is a rebel against the whole of society because he feels his greatness is not realised. He wants to commit a terrible crime in or order to create fame.
In the Red Room, the young man is does not believe in the traditional beliefs. He is quite sure of himself that and regards old people there as old fashioned. A modern man who rejects all ways and beliefs but he almost comes to serious harm because of too much faith in science. In the Sherlock Holmes stories, the danger comes from an unusual crime. Dr. Roylott is a doctor from a upper class background who are also outsiders. He has strange animals and is feared and avoided by people of nearby villages. It shows that although there are dangers in society, there is also people who can protect society.
The use of language the writer uses is suited to the characters and the situation of each story. The Stolen Bacillus contains a lot of scientific terms from pre-20th century. For example, the ‘ celebra thin of cholera’ and. The sense of danger is created through the language. The way the anarchist sees ‘Death! Death! ‘ is frightening because the reader feels that he will create a terrible crime. At the same time, the description of the anarchist’s ‘deep grey eyes’, the ‘hagged expression’ and nervous manner gives the impression that the person is not as he seems.
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