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The Adventure Of The Speckled Band, The Stolen Bacillus And Napoleon And The Spectre

2552 words - 10 pages

Tension and Suspense in The Adventure of the Speckled Band The Stolen Bacillus and Napoleon and the Spectre

All the above mentioned narratives contain suspense and tension
throughout and they all belong to the "short story" genre. This is
significant as in short stories the form doesn't allow the opportunity
to write long descriptions or to create a strong relationship between
the reader and the characters, so instead he or she needs to pack the
tale with almost immediate tension to grip the reader from the outset.
I also think the time in which all the stories were written is
significant, as each of the different stories includes a contemporary
fear that would definately have provoked tension and suspense from a
reader in a Victorian society.

In Victorian England the country and society was beginning to be
transformed due to the Industrial Revolution. There was still an
obvious hierarchical class and patriarchal structure. Women, for
example, were still treated as inferior. In "The Adventure of the
Speckled Band," and "The Stolen Bacillus" this is evident as the women
in those stories are presented as either the damsels in distress (the
Stoner twins,) or the silly interfering wife (Minie the
Bacteriologist's wife.) In Victorian times short stories also became
popular and were published regularly in magazines and newspapers. Most
of the them, like the three I am discussing in this essay; were
thrilling due to the recent fascination people had which was scaring
themselves senseless for entertainment.

In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," (A.O.T.S.B) "The Stolen
Bacillus," (T.S.B) and "Napoleon and the Spectre" (N.A.T.S) the
authors all play on different themes that would have frightened people
at that time to create tension and suspense. N.A.T.S plays on
Victorian society's supernatural fears. Today, we might not find the
"black opaque shadow" of the spectre scary but in the nineteenth
century superstitions and beliefs in ghosts and ghouls were
surprisingly common. This is because Victorian England wasn't fully
scientifically developed and things like sudden deaths that now could
be explained would have been put down to supernatural or unearthly
happening. So the spectre, being believable would have created tension
and suspense.

A.O.T.S.B has aspects that relate it to the gothic genre, with its
mixture of mystery, cruelty and horror. The imagery created in the
description of the "old ancestral house" gives it that medieval feel
that the gothic genre encompasses. This creates tension and suspense
as the gothic genre has such a dark, mysterious and mythical air to
it. Doyle also uses the fact that Victorian people were terrified of
the seedier side to life beneath society to create tension and
suspense. He does this by writing A.O.T.S.B in a "whodunit" style and
by...

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