How Successful is Conan Doyle in Writing Detective Fiction that Appeals to a Modern Reader? Essay Sample
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How Successful is Conan Doyle in Writing Detective Fiction that Appeals to a Modern Reader? Essay Sample
Readers enjoy crime fiction because of the way it makes them think and feel about life and everyday situations. The tension and drama draws readers in and makes them feel like they are apart of the storyline. Another hook is the main character, which is normally the inspector/detective. This character is usually braved, intelligent, and physically strong and is very secretive. These types of aspects draw the reader in because they are slowly revealed throughout the story. The villain is also an interesting character because of the way they have committed the crime. They may make themselves appear like the innocent person in the story and stitch the blame on somebody else that was not involved or have left very thin line leading towards them. These villains are known for their obsessive thinking and leaving dead ends. In addition, readers like these crime fictions because of the puzzles that the villain leaves behind. These puzzles then help the reader to be involved in the storyline and can try to solve the problem as if they are in the story next to the detective and sharing his adventures.
In the ‘Speckled Band’ Roylott is an appealing character who can get the readers attention almost straight away. However, instead of introducing himself to the reader, his step-daughter, Miss Helen Stoner, tells us about his background, also where he has been and spent his time though out the years. She also explains why he is an upset and an emotional man. ‘He beat his native butler to death and narrowly escaped a capital sentence. As it was, he suffered a long term of imprisonment, and afterwards returned to England a morose and disappointed man.’ The way that Miss Stoner describes him as a proud man, who is also known to be violent ‘Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the family.’ This type of violence excites the reader and makes the reader anticipate his actions when he introduces himself to Holmes. When the reader first meets Roylott, Doyle describes him as a ‘huge man,’ with a ‘large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles burned yellow with the sun and marked with every evil passion.’
This detailed description pulls the reader into the story and could even scare them into reading more. In ‘The Red-Headed League’, Vincent Spaulding, who is Mr Wilsons assistant in the pawn shop is known as the villain in the story. Vincent is introduced the same way as Roylott was. Mr Wilson tells Holmes about him later on in the story. Mr Wilson gives Holmes a physical description, the reader gets a very quick image of a ‘small, stout-built, no hair on face.’ So a normal looking guy until Wilson says ‘has a white splash of acid upon his forehead.’ Then the reader is getting suspicious as to why he has that acid on his head. He also tells Holmes that he is ‘snapping away with a camera…and then diving down into the cellar like a rabbit into its hole to develop his pictures.’ This then gets the reader even more suspicious because, why a man would be taking loads of picture of a Pawn Brokers, when he should be working. These kinds of descriptions will persuade the reader to read on and find out more about Vincent and what part he plays in the story.
When Holmes and Watson meet up with Mr Jones and Mr Merryweather, they find out the ‘Vincent Spaulding’ is actually called ‘John Clay’. Holmes describes him as ‘the murderer, thief, smasher, and forger.’ Again this will persuade the reader to read on and find out more about John Clay and what his plan is. In ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ the villain is a woman called Irene Adler. She has been introduced to us through the King. He describes her as a ‘well-known adventuress.’ After this Holmes gets Watson to look her up in his index and reads out her information. ‘Born in New Jersey,’ an American girl, ‘Contralto,’ she is an opera singer. That was not usual in the 19th century. We find out the king is after her because she has a picture that would destroy his next marriage. When Holmes, Watson and the king read the letter, this proved that she was a smart person because she has managed to outwit Sherlock Holmes. Not many people could do that. She had even followed him after he went into the house as the homeless man, and made sure it was him. ‘when I followed you to your door.’
In the ‘Speckled Band’ story, Watson is seen as the narrator because he tells us the story through his own eyes. We also see him as the assistant of Sherlock Holmes. He starts off the story by tells us about Sherlock Holmes and how he has been with him for eight years. He explains to us about his ‘friend’ and starts to introduce him to the readers. When Watson explaining the story who can see is admiration and how much he looks up towards Holmes. He even says ‘and in admiring the rapid deductions as swift intuitions’. Also, we learn that he is willing to help Holmes even in dangerous situations. In the story Holmes explains to Watson that ‘There is a distinct element of danger’, but Watson still replies with ‘Can I be of assistance?’ which shows how much he trust Holmes and is willing to stick with him no matter what. Even though Watson has been working with Holmes for eight years Holmes still manages to surprise him.
When they are heading up to Miss Helen Stoners room in the ‘Speckle Band’, through the window, a strange creature scares Watson, but after a few seconds Holmes realises that it is the baboon and reassures Watson by saying ‘It is a nice household,’ he murmured. ‘That is the baboon.’ Watson is also another way for the reader to understand the story. When Holmes asks Watson questions about what is happening, it’s like he is asking the readers what is happening as well. When Holmes asks Watson ‘What do you make of that?’ Watson replies with, ‘It’s a common enough lash.’ We are finding out the answers to the puzzle at the same time that Watson is. In the ‘Red-Headed League’, again Watson is seen as the narrator because the story is being told from his point of view. However unlike in the ‘Speckled Band’, Watson goes straight into the story instead of introducing Holmes. Watson walks straight into a conversation between Holmes and Mr Wilson, and is invited to join them by Holmes who seems to be very excited.
When Holmes, Watson, Mr Jones and Mr Merryweather are waiting in the bank, Watson experienced fear which was similar to the fear that he experienced in the ‘Speckled Band’ when they were waiting in Miss Helens room. ‘For I feared to change my position.’ This kind of atmosphere can again scare the reader into reading more and if Holmes actually catches John Clay and if it really is him. When Watson asked Holmes ‘in order that you might see him’ (talking about Clay), the reader is supposed to be in the same position as the reader and asks the questions the reader would like to ask. In ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ we find out that Watson is now married and has moved on. He does not live with Holmes anymore and does not work with him either because he has gone back to his own work as being a Doctor. Holmes also manages to surprise Watson when he manages to deduct that he has been out in bad weather. ‘Always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I easily could do it.’
In the Speckled Band we immediately find out a lot about Sherlock Holmes due to Watson were he explains quite a bit about him. We find out that ‘he refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic.’ We also find out that he doesn’t do his job for the money, ‘As to reward, my profession is its reward.’ He does it for the feeling he gets after he has solved the case. We learn that his observational skills are beyond belief. When he is first talking to Miss Helen Stoner he is very quick to know that she took the train and before that she took a dog-cart. He found this out by ‘second half of a return ticket in the palm of your left hand’ and ‘the left arm of your jacket is spattered with mud in no less than seven places.’ Holmes is also very calm and good with people who are annoyed at him. In the ‘Speckled Band’, when Roylott bursts into Holmes’ office shouting and screaming, Holmes responds with a nice a calm voice which seems to annoy Roylott a lot. ‘Holmes, the busybody!’ his smile broadened.’ While Holmes is staying calm it is as if he is disarming Roylott. Holmes is also a very good listener.
This can be seen when Miss Helen Stoner is explaining to him about her step-fathers past and the events that happened to her sister. He also listens carefully and analyses each word carefully. ‘Pray go on with your narrative.’ Holmes wants her to carry on with her story so he can get as much information as possible. Holmes is also a very proud detective, and does not like to be called part of the police force because in that time they were known for their ‘stupidity’ and ‘laziness’. After Roylott leaves Holmes’ house, he gets upset that he had just referred to him as part of the police force. ‘Fancy his having the insolence to confound me with the official detective force!’ He does not like the police force one bit; he is a very proud detective. In the ‘Red-Headed League’, again Holmes observation skills are highlighted yet again Holmes quickly deducts Mr. Wilson habits and his work just looking at him. ‘Your hands my dear sir, your right hand is quite a size larger than you’re left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more developed.’ With one look he has managed to work this out. Also ‘The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right wrist could only have been done in china.
I have made a small study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature of the subject.’ Here we learn that Holmes knows quite a lot about China and he has obviously been there, and his hobby was Chinese tattoos. In ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ we find out that Holmes has started to take a kid of drug, however, it does not it affect his work. ‘Between cocaine and ambition…he was still deeply attracted by the study of crime.’ this also shows that Holmes is a determined man and will go through anything to get to his goal. Again, as in all of the other stories, we notice his observational skills. In a short few minutes Holmes manages to figure out that Watson has been out in bad weather, not so long ago.
‘The leather is scored in six almost parallel cuts.’ After we meet the King, we find out that Holmes keeps a file about the people he has met when he asks Watson to look up Irene Adler. We also find out that Holmes can read German, ‘Gesellschaft, which is the German for Company.’ This could also indicate that he may have been to Germany as well. In contrast to what Holmes said about money in the ‘Speckled Band’, here he asks for money now and when he has finished the job. ‘Then, as to money,’ and he also says ‘and for present expenses.’ We also find out that Holmes is very good a disguises when he comes into his office, where Watson is waiting for him and did not recognise him at first.
When Doyle describes Stoke Moran in the ‘Speckled Band’, he manages to create a murder atmosphere through Watson’s description. ‘The building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone.’ This tells the reader that this place is quite dirty and that nobody takes care of it. ‘Lichen-blotched stone’ also indicated that there was a lot of moss and dirt on the side of the building. ‘With a prostration and two curving wings like claws of a crab.’ This quote indicates that there seems like there is no way out, because when the claws of a crab close its hard for a person to get them open again.
This makes the reader feel like they are at the place with Holmes and Watson. In the ‘Red-Headed League’, Doyle again describes short but with enough detail to give the reader an idea of what the road looks like. Watson describes it as more sinister place than he did in Stoke Moran. ‘It was a pokey little shabby-genteel place where four lines of dingy two -storied bricked houses looked out into a small railed in enclosure ,where a lawn of weedy grass and a few clump of faded laurel bushes made a hard fight against a smoke-laden and uncongenial atmosphere.’ This keeps the reader intrigued because the setting seems really intense. ‘Shabby-genteel’ tells the reader that this road was once a nice place but over the years has gotten un-cared for and not very nice.
In my opinion I think that Sherlock Holmes’ observing skills are a very important aspect of the stories. This makes Doyle successful because the reader would want to be like Holmes so they would carry on reading the books until they can think like him, and ha would mean that the reader would have to read quite a few books.