How Conan Doyle Conveys An Impression Of Suspense And Mystery

1060 words - 4 pages

How Conan Doyle Conveys an Impression of Suspense and Mystery

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses many literary devices to convey an
impression of suspense and mystery. They are placed throughout the
story to ensure that the reader is always guessing as to what happens
next.

The primary device that Doyle uses is a combination of melodrama and
academic writing. The latter is used in abundance with touches of the
former to ensure that the reader is not put off at any point.
Furthermore, it ensures a sense of realism which makes the mystery
much more intense. Doyle's academic style can be seen from the very
first sentence of the story when he states: "Of all the problems,
which have been to my friend Mr Sherlock Holmes for solution" Coupled
with academic writing is understatement when he writes, "At the time
the circumstances made a deep impression upon me, and the lapse of two
years has hardly served to weaken the effect." Melodrama can be
observed from the statement, "[it] was so strange in its inception and
so dramatic in its details"

Throughout the beginning of the story the credibility of the narrator,
Dr Watson, is built up to ensure a relationship of trust between him
and the reader. This means that everything he says is instantly
believable and this amplifies the mystery and suspense. An example of
this is: "My practice had steadily increased, and as I happened to
live at no very great distance from Paddington Station, I got a few
patients from among the officials." Here you can see that Doyle is
emphasising Watson's profession. The reader is given the impression
that because Watson is a doctor he can be trusted. Furthermore, the
reader knows that he's not going to dramatise the events.

To ensure that the mystery itself is properly described, no detail is
left out and this creates vivid images. The horrific details that
Doyle puts across are not dampened in any way and this makes the story
seem more believable. He goes to great lengths to describe everything
so that a full picture can be constructed without leaving anything to
the imagination. Whilst this is a fairly aggressive way of treating
the reader, it ensures that he or she sees the story in exactly the
right way. It also emphasises the feeling of trust for the narrator
since he's sharing so many details. Since the details are so
unbelievable in themselves, Doyle ensures that the storyteller, the
engineer, tells his story rationally, which ensures its believability.
An example of this is the following, rather modest, paragraph spoken
by the engineer:

"'Oh, no; not now. I shall have to tell my tale to the police; but,
between ourselves, if it were not for the convincing evidence of this
wound of mine, I should be surprised if they believed my statement,
for it is a very extraordinary one, and I have not much in the way of
proof with which to back it up. And, even if they believe me, the
clues which I can give them are so vague that it is...

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