The use of clues and red herrings this way creates a sense of atmosphere and suspense which appeals to the modern day reader because it is what most modern day stories include and as this was written in the Victorian era it is still giving the reader the sense of uneasiness; for example, In The Speckled Band, the gypsies are red herrings because Conan Doyle writes about them in a way as to suggest they are to blame for the crime however this only makes the reader build up false accusations against them and they become oblivious to the real criminal.
The use of language is very interesting in Conan Doyle’s stories because there are many variations compared to the language we use today. For example in the speckled band Holmes asks Helen Stoner to take a seat but instead of using the phrase “have a seat” which we would use in today’s modern language, he says to Miss Stoner “pray take a seat” which is a polite way of asking the same thing of someone.
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries women were not treated with an equal amount of respect as men and so by Holmes addressing Miss Stoner in that way, it is an example of how he is unique and does not think less of women.
The modern reader may struggle to understand some of the meanings of the phrases used because they have slightly different meanings to us now. For example, Holmes addresses Watson and says, “I beg you will not disturb me”, using “I beg” in today’s society would have a different meaning altogether as it would seem as though you desperately want something. Also, the language tells us a lot about Victorian society, in the past people were addressed according to their class and this was determined from where you lived.
The suspect in The Speckled Band is Dr. Grimsby Roylott; he commits the crime of murder because he wants to ensure he gains full entitlement to a large sum of money. Conan Doyle uses very powerful imagery to create the character of Dr. Roylott such as, ‘He was a huge man.. face.. marked with every evil passion’ and also ‘He strode out of the room’. These two quotes are a few examples of the language the author uses to build up the reader’s accusations against Roylott and also to show how he placed himself above others and to show his importance.
In the Red Headed League, the main suspect is John Clay; he works hard only for half-pay. This is similar to The Speckled Band because both crimes are money related. From the techniques Doyle uses, the reader is meant to think that Roylott and Clay are the villains but then he also uses other techniques to make the reader doubt their suspicion. This makes the story ending much more unexpected. The writer uses suspicion by making the suspects act in mysterious and different ways to everyone else.
From the behavior of the suspects, you find out that back in Victorian Society many crimes were based on money and the belief that it was very important; this is a very big similarity between the two periods of time because in today’s society the majority of crimes are still money related. The victim in The Red Headed League is Jabez Wilson; he is a shop owner who is being deceived by his employee, John Clay. He believes that John is doing photography down in the cellar, however he is digging a tunnel to the Bank.
The victim in The Speckled Band is Helen Stoner; she comes home after questioning the mysterious death of her twin sister. The writer uses techniques to make the victims seem helpless in comparison to Holmes, such as making them seem desperate for his help as though they are incapable without him, which in effect emphasizes his great skills and capability at solving crimes. Also, Helen Stoner is made to seem weaker than Jabez which shows how women were given less opportunities than men and that men were thought to be more powerful and important.
A motive is a reason for something and all suspects must have a motive in order to commit a crime. The motive for both The Speckled Band and The Red Headed League is money. In The Red Headed League, John Clay attempts to steal from the Bank of London and in The Speckled Band; Dr. Roylott attempts to stop his daughter from marrying in order to inherit money that they would be entitled from the will of a past relative. Holmes’ motive for solving crimes is for the excitement in each individual case not for actually solving the crime itself.
He says to Watson that he suffers from ‘ennuie’ meaning that he finds everyday life boring. The motives show how important money was in Victorian Society; the main reason for this is because it determines your class. All Sherlock Holmes stories have strong morals; these are serious messages that teach the reader something. Both The Speckled Band and The Red Headed League have the same moral and that is that money isn’t everything. Money can get people into a lot of trouble, in these cases murder and robbery.
This is important for Victorian readers because money is very much related to their lives and people were very discriminate about class back in those times; these morals can be seen as a warning to them. These morals would appeal to a modern reader because it is still valid for today’s society. It is a way of distinguishing right from wrong and showing how crime results in punishment and that justice will be done. The morals don’t seem harsh to me, I think they are fair. It is a strong message; however I think they can be interpreted differently in both the Victorian society and today’s society.
Back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries money often determined people’s class which could affect their lifestyles however; many crimes are committed in order to gain money for different reasons. The key parts of the stories that I feel appeal to me, as a modern day reader, are the processes leading up to the crime being solved and the frequent use of red herrings. Also, the Short Stories of Sherlock Holmes would appeal to modern readers because they are of a detective genre which still relates to today’s society.
I would recommend these stories because they are very well written and are also educational and informative about Victorian Society. I preferred The Speckled Band because it had the most unexpected ending due to having so many red herrings in. I think that that makes the story more exciting and interesting to read. Adriana Romano 10N Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Conan Doyle section.