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Conan Doyle's The Adventure Of The Speckled Band And Victorian Readers

2140 words - 9 pages

The Victorian era, a time of change in industry, education and family life brought us the famous Conan Doyle detective - Sherlock Holmes. At a point in history where wealth, media and intelligence were becoming more and more prominent in British society the mystery genre became as popular as today's soaps. Doyle's crime formula could be described as a masterpiece, his stories always involving the same fundamental factors that kept his readers hooked. These factors can be seen in The Adventures of the Speckled Band, Helen Stoner the helpless victim, Doctor Roylott the clever villain, a thorough investigation carried out by Holmes followed by a deduction, and a serving of justice. But the question is, how and why did these appeal so successfully to the Victorian readers?

Sherlock Holmes as a fictional character was brought across by Conan Doyle to be a very popular detective, one of whom people "insist upon seeing". This popularity is reflected in real life as the stories had such a sense of realism the readers were compelled to see him as a real life figure. It also implies that he is successful in all the cases he is employed to examine. In the story, Holmes is a confident character, reassuring his 'helpless victim', "'You must not fear' he said soothingly". For Doyle's Victorian readers, this characteristic, along with the fact he always defeated the wrong-doer, gave them a sense of hope and security against the frightening changes going on and the increase in crime. This 'safety' the readers felt kept them hooked. Doyle's carefully crafted detective was always polite, for example "would you have the kindness". He was calm, strong and dedicated with an attitude of his ?profession is its own reward?. This made him an ideal role model to the Victorian society. This 'upper class' image was stereotypical of a detective and is what appealed to readers.
Holmes' carefully thought through characteristics made him relatable to some and aspirational to others - an all round likeable person. Conan Doyle played the current social standings to Sherlock?s favour. At the time, crime was on the rise and the police appeared useless and without control. In a reader pleasing line, Holmes rubbishes the police force, and when talking about the villain Roylott says ?fancy him having the insolence to confound me with the official detective force?. This further enforces his appeal to the readers. This was proved when Doyle killed off Sherlock in 1892. The Victorian readers were so outraged that the pressure resulted in a further Sherlock Holmes story being written in 1902.

In The Adventures of the Speckled Band, the main narrative comes from Holmes' sidekick, Watson. The story is told through his eyes. This is an effective tool in the mystery genre as it gives the readers the ability to solve the mystery alongside Holmes and Watson. Throughout the story, Holmes shares his ideas and clues with Watson and in turn...

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