The Sherlock Holmes stories were first published in strand magazines in the year 1891. The author Conan Doyle, was inspired by other writers including R. L Stevenson, who wrote adventure stories, and Edgar Allen Poe who wrote horror and crime stories. He was also influenced by real events, such as the Jack the Ripper case which was happening at the time. Many people at that time thought it was nosy and disrespectful to read real life stories about dead people, so these fictional stories made them feel less guilty. The fictional stories also calm the public because many real life cases weren’t solved but the Sherlock Holmes cases always were.
This gave people hope and made them less scared. Conan Doyle engages his readers by portraying life in Victorian England in an engaging way. In the ‘man with the twisted lip’ the reader is introduced to opium dens. Opium was a legal drug at the time of the Victorians. They used to go the little dens underground which women were deprived of using: ‘There were bodies lying in strange fantastic poses, with bowed shoulders and bent knees. ‘ Dr Watson said ‘Isa Whitney made good of an opium den in the farthest part of the east of the city. ‘ This showed that Watson morally disapproves of these drugs.
The fact that they smoked in the east is that they don’t want to smoke I an respectable area so the have opium’s ‘farthest part of the east of the city. ‘ Colonialism was portrayed in ‘The Speckled Band’ as Dr Roylott set up a medical practice in India. Another thing about Victorian times was the difference in authority and rights, and how the white upper class could easily get away with murder. An example of that was colonialism; in the story Dr Roylett killed his native butler who was Indian. However Dr Roylett was English and people like him were seen as powerful.
So when he killed his butler he could easily get away with the capital punishment. However if he was an Indian he would have got a death sentence. This is because in the Indian culture who ever murders shall be repaid by being sentenced to death. Britain was as patriarchal society where the men were dominant and the bread-winners, and governed their own families by paternal right. An example is of Dr Roylott, his wife died, and she had left a lot of money. However the money had to go to his daughters when they marry. That is when the complications happen as Dr Roylott did not want to give the money away.
Arthur Conan Doyle indulges and engages his readers into his books, Doyle’s talent was seen as he was describing his characters in an interesting way, e. g. ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’. Holmes was disguised as an old man and he was very thin. ‘Also much wrinkled bent with age, and an opium pipe dangling between his knees’. He went to the opium bar where people drink and smoke cocaine, he thinks that the dens are dark gloomy and socially unpleasant place to be. This is shown of the sentence; ‘approached by a steep flight of steps leading down to a black gap like the mouth of a cave.
‘ Also ‘I found the latch and made my way into a long, low room, thick and heavy of an emigrant ship’. This is strange for the readers as they do not expect a detective that solves mysteries and problems to admit that he also smoke cocaine. Further the author gave Holmes a personality that surprises readers. He says ‘I suppose … that you imagine that I have been addicted opium smoking and to cocaine injections’. This shows that he has a dual personality. He is two sided, smoking cocaine then solving a mystery which is eccentric.
Conan Doyle uses contrast in ‘The Red Headed league’ to represent Holmes, it states and ‘extreme languor to devouring energy. ‘ This suggests that one minute Sherlock was tired and lazy, the next he was bursting with energy. Conan Doyle is also good at using sexual imagery. Where it states ‘lust of the chase’, that would suddenly come upon him, this shows that he is passionate about his job and loves it the way a man loves a woman. He also uses effective animal imagery, ‘Hunt down’ describes him as a vicious as a predator hunting down its prey. Conan Doyle describes settings in an interesting way.
In ‘The Red Headed League’ he uses exaggeration when he says ‘every man who has a shade of red in their hair into the city answered the advertisement. ‘ He also uses good personification e. g. ‘fleet street was choked. ‘ This is good because the reader knows that Fleet Street is not human because only humans choke when there is too much food consumed so suffocating. However ‘fleet Street’ choked means it was crowded up with people and hardly any space. This is a good way too keeps the readers engaged and thinking. Color imagery to gives a better image of the scene e. g. Irish setter, brick, liver, clay.
So it is not just saying red or blue bricks however adding metaphors. So it is making the reader imagine the colors it their head on what it looks like. Conan Doyle also uses a range of similes e. g. ‘court looked like a casters orange barrow it gives the reader a picture on how many red headed people, its crowded this showed how the court may have looked like. Furthermore he describes the settings of his stories in a way that interest the readers. In the speckled band, as Conan Doyle uses pathetic fallacy. Pathetic fallacy is when nature reflects the mood, like; the wind was howling, rain was beating splashing against the window.
This is a bit like personification which gives an impression that the weather is horrible, reflecting the awful tragedy that is occurring in the house. The weather represented the mood and atmosphere of the scene in the story. The house was described as, ‘the building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central potion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown out on each side, in one of these the windows were broken and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof was partially caved in, a picture of ruin. ‘ The poor state of the house represents the deterioration and poor mental health of Dr Roylett.
The stories are all structured in a similar way. In Sherlock Holmes stories is usually detective work it usually follows as. A client introduces the case to the detectives. In “The Speckled Band” there are two victims, one already dead, the other, Miss Helen Stoner, fearing for her life. When we first see Miss Helen Stoner in the story, she is dressed in black and heavily veiled. We can tell that she is terrified straight away when she talks. The first thing she says is “It is not cold which makes me shiver”, “said the woman in a low voice”. “It is fear, Mr. Holmes.
It is terror”. The impact on the reader for this shows exactly how she was feeling, and how scared she was because she believes that she is going to die like her sister that died two years before. She believes that her sister was either frightened to death or killed by gypsies, because when this woman Helen found her sister the last words that she said were: “Helen! Oh my God, Helen! It was the band! The speckled band! ” Next the detective analyses the client to demonstrate their detective skill. This was shown when he observed a train ticket in Mrs. Helen right glove.
He also worked out that she took a cart before reaching the station because her jacket was muddy. He worked that one out because he said ‘ there is no vehicle save a dog cart which throws mud in that way, and then only when you sit on the left hand side of the driver’. This gave Helen stoner a shock as to the series of accurate information. This shows that Sherlock was a bit of a show off demonstrating his extraordinary skills. Being as clever as that is essential for a successful detective. After that the detective visits the crime scene. At night Sherlock went to Dr Roylotte’s house.
He gave the woman set instruction to lock herself in her room so the detectives would sleep in her sisters’ room for the night. So Sherlock wanted to investigate why there is a constant whistle during the night. Holmes investigated the whole house and he build up a plan to catch the murderer. Holmes had found out that there was an air-vent that was inside the house between the sister’s room and the stepfathers. Holmes now was in the room that Helen was supposed to be in and suddenly the light was lit in the stepfather’s room, and then Sherlock jumped and hit the bell robe under the air-vent which revealed a snake.