Exploring the Reasons Behind the Popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Stories
Although not a real detective, the character of Sherlock Holmes gave
the general public a sense of security because in the stories he is
seen to solve cases quite easily, such as in "The Man With The Twisted
Lip." Watson says "I wish I knew how you reached your results" and
Holmes replies, "I reached this one, by sitting upon five pillows and
consuming an ounce of shag." This gives the readers a sense of
security because it seems as if Holmes makes no effort to solve the
crimes but they are still solved with the minimum of fuss.
At the time of writing the concept of detectives was new, and when the
stories were written there was almost no confidence in the police
force. This point is brought up in "The Man With The Twisted lip," the
police force caught a criminal and then proceeded to let him go. This
is an unsatisfactory closure and only highlights the perceived
inadequacy of the police force during that period of time. Holmes also
brings this point to light in the "The Blue Carbuncle" when Holmes
lets the criminal go and then he says "after all, Watson, I am not
retained by the police to supply their deficiencies." This statement
makes the reader more aware of the historical period in which the
story was written due to the fact that the reader will know that the
police force was not held in high regard in the historical period in
which the story was written.
The east side and west sides of London are clearly defined with the
west being the more upper class part of London and the east being the
more seedy side. Conan Doyle uses the east side and west side quite
clearly in his stories such as in "The Man With The Twisted Lip"
Watson's narrative says "made use of a opium den in the furthest east
of the city." The west side is also seen to be the more upper class
side in "The Speckled Band" when Helen stoner says "of one of the
oldest Saxon families in England, the Roylotts of Stoke Moran, on the
western border." Conan Doyle's distinction between the two sides of
London allows the reader to clearly distinguish where the crimes will
take place and where Holmes will have to go to solve them. This also
fits in with our prior knowledge of Londonin the nineteenth century.
We can also make the assumption that Conan Doyle was a very class
conscious individual with a clear definition of right and wrong.
The stories have great literary appeal because the structure is
predictable, Holmes is likely to solve the case. The stories coincide
with the concept of classic realism. A hero is presented with a
problem (Holmes), he would surmount the problem and there was usually
a satisfactory closure such as the criminal being brought to justice.
This genre of writing was very popular in the nineteenth century.