How does Arthur Conan Doyle create an atmosphere of mystery and build suspense in ‘The Speckled Band’? To what extent are his methods typical of all the other stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? The story ‘The speckled band’ was written by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1982 and is one of the many stories in the large Sherlock Holmes series of stories. As known the stories are based on inquiries and investigations, because of course Sherlock Holmes is an investigator, this in itself gives a sense of excitement to the story because you know that there will e a constant thrill throughout the story, especially seems as it is likely that it will be based on something like a murder, or an affair, etc.
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As soon as the story starts, Holmes gets straight into the action, as a poor victim comes round to his home and asks him for help. She is portrayed to the reader as being in a very poor and vulnerable position by “her face (being) all drawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal”, she is also shivering from fear and so now the reader knows that there is a vulnerable victim, that something is wrong, and that something unjust will be done against her, and so it builds the excitement and suspense in the readers mind.
This same scenario is presented in A case of Identity when Miss Sutherland comes to Sherlock Holmes in a similar vulnerable state, frightened. As usual straight away Holmes picks up on all the little details, such as the mud stains on the victim’s clothes, and manages to create a clear picture in his mind of the situation.
The victim is called Miss Helen Stoner. When she first came into the story she was wearing black, veiled and grey haired. She was shivering and terrified, which creates a scary if not intriguing scene leaving the reader asking “why is she in this state?!”, the lady also gave a violent start, by saying “It is fear Mr Holmes, It is terror.” The story then goes on and Holmes is told about the lady’s step father, who instantly Holmes recognizes as the murderer. We can make out from the story, that her step father Doctor Grimesby Roylott was a violent man who had a bad and short temper, and after his wife dies he shut himself up at home and became very violent, and we are told that “he is a man of immense strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger”.
The suspected murderer is described as being a very strong and powerful person, and extremely dangerous, this adds suspense and excitement to the story because from this description you can instantly tell that something out of the ordinary has got to happen with this man. The killing motive is also freaky in a way, because what he was trying to kill Miss Helen Stoner for was money. His wife left money for her daughters, but if they die he would receive the money. Personally I don’t feel sympathy for Doctor Roylott because he’s sick and twisted, he’s also very selfish, but a very dangerous man.
The scene of the murder adds a considerable amount of suspense to the story, this is because as it is first described, the building is made out to be a scary if not haunted freaky place. The house is described as “The building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone, with a high central portion and two curving wings, like the claws of a crab, thrown out on each side. In one of these wings the windows were broken and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof was partly caved in” basically making it look like a picture of ruin.
This creates a spooky and scary atmosphere, which makes the reader feel very cautious because it’s a typical description of a haunted house where anything could suddenly happen. This atmosphere can be easily related to a typical atmosphere of a murder mystery. To add to the atmosphere or fear and horror, the reader is told about the Doctor’s hobby of keeping wild dangerous animals, and that there is a Wild baboon and a cheetah in the grounds of the house.
In the story Holmes suspects Grimesby Roylott as the murder suspect, and he treats the case as urgent, and helps Helen Stoner straight away. This gives the reader the impression that it is important, and so it adds to the feeling that something big is going to happen, and that the case is dangerous. The addition of creepy objects in the house also helps relate an atmosphere, such as the useless ventilator, and the ropes which hung down to the lady’s bed. Holmes also suspects the animal as a dangerous exotic one, in this case it being a snake, and this is not obvious to the reader, and so they will be kept waiting to see what these strange object, and weird animals are all there for.
In the end, the murderer who correctly turns out to be Doctor Roylott, gets killed by his own weapon the deadly snake. This makes the story come to an exciting end, and it in many ways sums up the complete suspense and mystery that has been throughout the book, and makes it all clear to the reader at the end. The readers will also think about if they think he deserved to get killed because he is sick and twisted, and because he does not care for any one apart from himself. I like my murder mysteries to have a twist at the end and that good always wins.