How Does Arthur Conan Doyle Create Tension And Suspense In The Speckled Band
The Speckled Band is just one of the murder mystery stories featuring
the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes was not any ordinary detective, he was a detective who was
famous for solving murders. In this case Holmes is trying to solve the
mystery of the 'Speckled Band'.
Some examples of tension building techniques are dramatic events and
in some instances the inclusion of red herrings. Bad weather and night
time are also used as a means of building up atmosphere and tension.
The main setting is Dr Roylot's house in the middle of a wild, stormy
night. This immediately creates a sense of uneasiness in the readers
mind. In his description of the storm, Conan Doyle uses sounds to very
good effect. He talks about the howling wind and the rain beating on
the windows. This language has a double impact because the words
`howling' and `beating' are onomatopoeic. In fact, all the way through
the story, we see many examples of onomatopoeia. The feeling created
is of watching a film with full sound effects.
Conan Doyle's excellent skills in imagery are evident in his
description of Julia on page 174. He uses vivid language, such as
`state of agitation', `drawn and grey' and `restless, frightened
eyes' to build up a terrifying picture of this woman in the reader's
mind. However, no author can maintain tension levels at a height
throughout the whole story. There need to be moments of calm - a lull
in the storm, Conan Doyle achieves this contrast admirably in his
description of the journey from Waterloo Station through the Surrey
countryside. The language used here is soft and delicate creating a
mood of calm and beauty. We see this in phrases such as –
'fleecy clouds in the heavens' and `the pleasant smell of the moist
earth'. Conan Doyle uses alliteration to create and build up the
tension, a good example is seen when Helen says-
"The dense darkness which surrounds me"
This highlights her sense of confusion and foreboding. The use of the
word `dense' shows how strongly she feels this.
Doyle again uses alliteration to create a similar effect when Helen
"A vague feeling of impending misfortune impressed me."
The word `impending' particularly builds up her sense of fear and