English Literature Coursework GCSE
Analyse a Short Story
Sherlock Holmes: “The Speckled Band”
“The Speckled Band” was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is a
murder mystery. It was set in 1883 in a wealthy area of London. It is
so realistic that many people believe that Holmes and Watson really
Sherlock Holmes is the detective and, as is usual in this type of
story, he has a sidekick. This is Watson who documents the cases in
diary form, “The Speckled Band being one entry.
The short story begins with Miss Helen Stoner visiting Sherlock Holmes
to ask for help with the case of her sister’s murder. She tells us the
story of how her sister, Julia, was engaged and about to get married.
Julia was made to move rooms for unnecessary repairs, which their
stepfather had ordered.
She then tells of her stepfathers’ past and the death of her mother.
The stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, had a history of gambling
problems and lost a lot of money through his addiction. He ventured to
India to continue his profession as a doctor in a small practice. This
is where he met Julia and Helen’s mother, who was at the time a rich
widow. They became close and married, but after sometime, Dr. Roylott
became violent and bad tempered. Then, tragically, the girls’ mother
unexpectedly died in the Crewe rail crash and left Dr. Roylott in
charge of the money, which the girls would receive when they marry.
Helen believes the death of Julia was suspicious and now she herself
is to be married, she fears for her life. She begs for help and
Holmes agrees to assist her.
Sherlock Holmes spends the rest of the story deducing who the murderer
is. He does this by piecing together the clues, in true detective
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...mes tells Watson not to go to sleep as his “very life may
depend on it.” Another example is Holmes telling Watson to get his
pistol ready in case they need it quickly. This makes us think they
are unsafe and there are many ways they are in grave danger. Watson
also refers to the whole experience as a “dreadful vigil”.
I enjoyed this short story because of Conan Doyle’s writing methods. I
was kept enthralled by his technique of using suspense and ‘red
herrings’. I think this is a good way of keeping your audience
interested in the story as “The Speckled Band” is a complicated tale
and needs explaining as well as enjoying. The author kept me
interested as well as clarifying the parts I was unsure of by subtly
describing events in depth and referring to things previously read in
the story. All in all I enjoyed “The Speckled band” by Sir Arthur
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