This essay uses A Conan Doyle interpretation of three cases in ‘the adventures of Sherlock Holmes’, to demonstrate how language, setting, characterisation and the role of the women reflects different aspects of Victorian society and life style. A Conan Doyle uses typical language that is relevant for the Victorian period. In each of the cases, we expect to find a wide range of techniques used to emphasise and create an image of Victorian society and lifestyle in the readers mind.
A Conan Doyle applies figurative language, repetition, grotesque and satirical caricatures and long complex sentences with detailed description. These techniques that A Conan Doyle uses helps the reader to understand the setting and characterisation more distinctly and clearly. A Conan Doyle uses figurative language to make the reader create an image in their heads of the character or setting. Figurative language is a range of metaphors and similes that are being compared to a person or thing. Here is an example that A Conan Doyle has used in ‘the speckled band’ (description of Dr. Roylott), “high thin fleshless nose gave him some what resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey.” In this quote the author is comparing Dr. Roylotts facial features to a ‘fierce old bird of prey’, this a metaphor used to help visualise the characters appearance.
A Conan Doyle uses grotesque and satirical caricature in some cases. He uses this technique to describe the villain. In the description of Dr. Roylott in ‘the speckled band’, A Conan Doyle makes the readers imagine how nasty Dr. Roylott looks by putting in, “bile shot eyes”. This makes the villain more imaginative and easier for the readers to picture as unpleasant and mean. A Conan Doyle uses long complex sentences to make a character or setting bold and clear, so the readers can easily relate and become more involved in the adventures. In long complex sentences A Conan Doyle uses ‘Victorian’ words. These words are not often used today, so readers can really understand the distinct differences between today and back then the Victorians used very old English, however by using these words the reader is given a bolder, clearer and much more of a characteristic image.
A Conan Doyle uses very long complex sentences to describe the king of bohemia in ‘the scandal in bohemia’, “completed the impression of barbaric opulence which was suggested by his whole appearance”. This gives the readers a clearer and detailed description of the event. In the quote it says he came with an uncultural but rich appearance focusing on detail. The sentence is considered complex as it uses more than one clause and unusual and uncommon words and metaphors where not familiar the words and terms i.e. ‘opulence’.
In Victorian history women were be considered weaker than men. The readers can see this through some of A Conan Doyle’s cases. ‘The man with the twisted lip’ women were really clumsy and weak. The readers can see this from the way Mrs. St Clair always kept fainting at the sight of blood, “Mrs. St Clair had fainted at the sight of blood.”, however there were some woman that were really sly and cunning, like Irene Adler from ‘scandal in bohemia’, when she tricked Sherlock Holmes and eloped with her fianc, “how best plans of Sherlock Holmes were beaten by a woman’s wit.” In Victorian times women were really weaker than men. ‘The second stain’ describes a clumsy woman, where a man blackmails a woman for a letter that could start war with another country. The weakness shows as she gives in to the man, “…in return for my secret not to be let out, he told me to get the blue envelope in the box. So I did…”
A Conan Doyle’s ‘thee adventure of Sherlock Holmes’, gives readers an image of how Victorian London appeared. Readers are given the impression that Victorian London was a very dull, dirty and contaminated place. In most cases Victorian London was very nasty, dirty and a scary place, especially the way it is described in ‘the man with the twisted lip’. The setting in ‘the man with the twisted lip’ is realistic, as at the same time ‘jack the ripper’ was known, “upper swandom lane is vile alley.”
This quote gives the reader an impression that Victorian London was very unclean and dirty. “Steep flight of steps leading down to a black gap like the mouth of a cave.” This quote gives the reader a frightening and dull suspense like of the setting and atmosphere. Dr. Watson is at the top of the flight of stairs and he is looking down them, when he looks down them he sees that the stairs lead to total darkness. The reader imagines a never-ending staircase or something gruesome waits at the bottom.
In the adventures of Sherlock Holmes readers are able to understand Victorian lifestyle. This can be identified through the character Sherlock Holmes. In each case Sherlock Holmes is considered to be the hero as he is described as a, “professional” investigator. Dr Watson describes positive factors regarding Holmes, he admires, “the rapid deductions, as swift as intuitions, and yet always founded on a logical basis, with which he unravelled the problems, which were submitted to him”.
This quote shows how Sherlock Holmes was dedicated to his work. Another example of the values of the period is seen through the character Dr.Watson. In the story ‘the man with the twisted lip’ we see Dr.Watson helping a woman in distress, because her husband is missing, so he investigates by himself, “I could manage it better if I were alone”. This was considered very heroic at the time. As he is protecting the innocent woman.
The character of Dr Roylott from ‘the speckled band’ shows the readers the values, which were despised of at the time. In ‘the speckled band’ Dr Roylott is described as a “furious” and “violent” person, “Holmes the Scotland yard jack-in-office” and, “…we heard the hoarse roar of the doctors voice, and saw the fury with which he shook his clenched fists at him.” From these quotes the readers can tell that Victorian people despised this sort of attitude, because he turns violent and furious easily.
By reading Sherlock Holmes the readers find many lifestyles, it just depends on which character is described. If it is a poor person then there lifestyle is at the opium den where it is a, “low room”, with “thick and heavy brown opium smoke”, and back in the Victorian times there were a lot of poor people, so the opium dens would’ve been packed, “…forecastle of an emigrant ship”. If it is a heroic person like Sherlock Holmes or Dr Watson than their lifestyle is rich and cosy lifestyle for example a house with a maid, big cosy “armchair”, in front of a big chimney fire in a, “cheery sitting room”, with a nice friendly atmosphere. But if it is a villainous and hated person like Dr Roylott then their lifestyle will be dark, very gloomy and unpleasant, for example an old wrecked house that nobody has cared for, “the few acres of bramble covered land”.