Tuesday, October 25, 2011


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Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh on May 185 to Mary Foley and Charles Doyle. He had a good education and studied medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating at years old. He paid his way, working as a clerk for Dr Joseph Bell, who later became the model for Sherlock Holmes.

The first story A Study in Scarlet was published in Beetons Christmas Annuals in December 1887. Ironically he regarded the Holmes stories as a distraction as he wanted to write other kinds of stories, even after they were published in the immensely popular Strand Magazine.

In 18 Conan Doyle put an end to the Holmes series and was knighted in 10 by King Edward VII, after defending General Kitchener and the army. The following year saw the revival of Holmes, in The Empty House published in McClures Magazine in New York after popular demand.

In 1 Conan Doyles health began to decline. Early in the morning of 7th July 10 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died. He was buried beside the summer-house in his garden. His grave was marked by a simple oak slab on which four words of epitaph were carved, Steel True. Blade Straight.

Sherlock Holmes was the hero of Conan Doyles stories. He was well known by his deerstalker hat and magnifying glass which he uses to examine the room where Miss Stoner died in The Adventure of the Speckled Band,

Then with his lens he tested the hinge.

He works with his good friend Dr Watson and, because people respected doctors, makes Holmes look more respectable, especially when he works out a crime. The two have a very close friendship and Watson enjoys working with Holmes,

I had no keener pleasure than in following Holmes in his professional investigations.

Sherlock Holmes was pompous yet very clever and because of the poor police service of the times, many looked up to and admired Holmes and he treats his clients in a well-mannered way and is very considerate. This is shown when Helen Stoner comes in,

I shall order you a cup of hot coffee for I observe that you are shivering.

He covers each case with great enthusiasm,

I am all attention madam! Holmes walked in and examined all of them with the keenest interest.

The Sherlock Holmes series were very popular in Victorian and Edwardian times, as they were among the first detective fiction stories. The first acknowledged detective story was The Moonstone written by Wilkie Collins in 1868. Many Sherlock Holmes stories first appeared in The Strand magazine, which was, at the time, immensely popular and easy to obtain. Many people were receiving an education so were able to read the stories. At the time the stories first appeared, the real life Jack The Ripper was at large, and because the police were failing to solve this crime and were viewed by many as impotent, the reassurance of Holmes successfully solving all the mysteries greatly aided the series popularity.

The stories were set in real places which people could identify with, making the stories seem more believable. Holmes popularity was shown when, although Conan Doyle attempted to kill off Holmes for a career change, public demand forced him to bring the series back seven years later. Many readers of the Holmes series actually believed that the famous detective was real, which for them would have made the stories even more realistic.

Even today the Sherlock Holmes series is as popular as ever. A museum has been opened at 1B Baker Street, which many people visit. There have been over 00 films and television dramas made about him, with Sherlock being played by over 70 actors. There is currently a new television series being made. A reason for the Holmes stories still being popular today is the fact that they are set in another era; people enjoy the escapism this offers. Its style and flow also enhances its brilliance. Detective stories are of a very popular genre as the reader enjoys trying to solve the crimes before the detective does.

Conan Doyle uses many different techniques in order to build up excitement in each Sherlock Holmes story. For example, in The Adventure of the Speckled Band simple sentences are used to build up suspense,

I nodded again. A similar example can be found in The Man with the Twisted Lip,

Oh, no, no!

Another technique used by Conan Doyle in his stories is using complex sentences, such as His form had filled out, his wrinkles were gone, the dull eyes had regained their fire, and there, sitting by the fire and grinning at my surprise, was none other than Sherlock Holmes, in The Man with the Twisted Lip and also, in The Adventure of the Speckled Band,

Two days ago some repairs were started in the west wing of the building, and my bedroom wall has been pierced, so that I have had to move into the chamber in which my sister died, and to sleep in the very bed in which she slept.

His use of complex sentences allows him to give detailed descriptions and lists of ideas so the reader is given a clear understanding of what is going on.

He asks lots of questions but does not answer them. This allows the reader to try and solve the mystery, which adds to the excitement of the story as the reader wants to read further into the story to try and find more clues. An example of this use of unanswered questions is in The Man with the Twisted Lip,

Was it possible that we could bring him back to her?

Conan Doyle actually gives clues to the reader to assist the reader trying to solve the mystery, this is displayed in The Man with the Twisted Lip

Hum! Posted today in Gravesend by a man with a dirty thumb.

Although the reader is given clues, there is always a feeling that Sherlock Holmes and Watson know more than they are revealing. This makes the reader want to progress further into the book and discover exactly what the detective and his friend could be hiding.

There are many adjectives included in the stories. Such as in The Adventure of the Speckled Band,

Weary and haggard gaping fireplace

This use of adjectives helps to create mood and give the reader a clear image of what is going on in the story. Other language is used to create excitement and tension within the reader, This is shown in The Man with the Twisted Lip,

Frightened frantically, and also in The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Untimely death horror dangers terror

He also uses metaphors in his stories, which help to create a vivid portrait. There are examples of these in The Adventure of the Speckled Band

With restless, frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal.

And also in The Man with the Twisted Lip

The mans face peeled off under the sponge like the bark from a tree.

During the stories there are setbacks and pitfalls which help to build up suspense and give greater impact throughout.

As the truth begins to surface there is a gradual unveiling of facts.

Showing that he had struck a light and looked about her when the alarm took place. This encourages the reader to read on through the story to pick up more facts to try and solve the mystery before the detective does.

Although there are pitfalls and setbacks in the stories, the hero always wins over the criminal, with the mystery being successfully unravelled. This is shown in The Man with the Twisted Lip,

I am sure, Mr Holmes, that we are very much indebted to you for having cleared the matter up.

This adds to the excitement during the stories because the reader wants to find out how and when the mystery is solved.

In The Adventure of the Speckled Band wild animals which are not often seen in Britain are included in the story. The reader is intrigued by these mysterious animals and so may be curious to see if they are involved in the mystery and how.

The idea of a snake instantly occurred to me. There is also a sense of irony in The Adventure of the Speckled Band as the man who sets out to murder is killed by his own evil. This happens when Dr Roylott sets out to use the snake to murder Helen Stoner, but it turns on him and kills him.

It flew upon the first person it saw.

There is a frequent change of pace throughout the stories, which helps to build up tension and then relax the reader until the story reaches a climax. It changes from slow, very detailing and descriptive, to fast, short sentences with dialogue and few adjectives.

In The Adventure of the Speckled Band the paragraphs become shorter as the story progresses, which helps to build suspense and tension in the reader. The story has a peak where there is lots of action and suspense, but then becomes calmer as it reaches the end and the mystery is solved. The peak comes right in the middle, so it is not too early that the story would lack tension, but not too late that the reader would become bored. This technique is also used in The Man with the Twisted Lip during Watson and Holmes conversation in the den,

Nearly Eleven

Of what day?

Of Friday, June 1th

The family involved in the story is rather unusual, as although they are aristocratic, they seem to be having a lot of bad luck and misfortune.

At least throw a little light through this dense darkness which surrounds me?

Which immediately draws the readers attention to the fact that something is about to go wrong for them, yet again. The fact that an aristocratic family is included is a smart move by Conan Doyle, as aristocracy was of major interest at the time, so could draw interest as well as excitement.

The fact that Dr Klas has got away with murder before makes him seem even harder to beat, so this actually makes the reader want good to win over evil.

She died just two years ago.

There is a very detailed description of the building involved, which helps to create and set the mood.

The building was of gray, lichen-blotched stone a small side door led into the whitewashed corridor

These give the image of a cold and eerie house where murder would most likely take place.

In The Man with the Twisted Lip there are also detailed descriptions, such as in the den where Watson finds Holmes,

A long, low room, thick and heavy with the brown opium smoke,

This creates a detailed image for the reader, thus allowing them to visualise what is happening.

At the end of each story, Holmes gives his explanation of the unravelled mystery and how he solved the case. This is used in both stories, The Adventure of the Speckled Band

I had come to these conclusions before ever I had entered his room

And also in The Man with the Twisted Lip

I do not know that there is anything else for me to explain

So not only does this final explanation summarise and conclude the Holmes investigation, but it also answers any of the readers question which may have developed during the story.

In conclusion, after comparing The Adventure of the Speckled Band and The Man with the Twisted Lip the story I found to be most successful in creating excitement was The Man with the Twisted Lip as, in my opinion, it portrayed a more vivid image and the techniques used to develop excitement were generally more successful and worked best with the story. The detailed descriptions throughout helped to create tension and although it did not seem to have so much of a peak to it as The Adventure of the Speckled Band it did have a twist at the end of the story which was very unexpected and added a greater impact.

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