The fact that Roylott had two dangerous animals (excluding the swamp adder) roaming his property, adds to his villainous appearance. People of the 1800’s would be suspicious of him as he has medical knowledge they would be wary that it could be used for bad or good. In “Silver Blaze” the villain is very different. John Straker is not the most obvious candidate as a villain, which suits a more modern audience. He is not revealed until the very end of the story. I think this makes it more exciting and more satisfying within the murder mystery genre.
If Dr Grimsby Roylott is an archetypal villain then Helen Stoner is a typical victim. “The Speckled Band” has the essence of a fairytale. Sherlock Holmes would be the knight in shining armour, saving the damsel in distress, Miss Stoner, from the brutal monster, Dr Roylott. This type of format appears frequently in Victorian Murder Mysteries. The victim is essential in the murder mystery genre. Miss Stoner has a crucial role within “The Speckled Band”. Roylott abuses Helen Stoner; in Victorian times people could accept that a “wicked” stepfather could abuse his stepdaughter.
An example of Roylotts abuse to Helen Stoner is “Five little livid spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon the white wrist. ” This highlights how weak Miss Stoner is against the vicious Stepfather. The reference to a “white wrist” makes her seem even more delicate. If it were Helen’s true father in Roylott’s role then Victorian people would not have purchased Conan Doyle’s novel, as they could not support this storyline. She is the sister to Julia, the murder victim, which makes the reader feel emotionally attached to her.
It also shows her vulnerability, if her sister could be murdered then it would seem likely that she too could be killed. In true Victorian melodrama Helen Stoner shows her emotions and weakness when she says, “It is fear, Mr Holmes. It is terror. ” No one else in “The Speckled Band” shows this much emotion. When she visits Holmes she’s dressed in black with a heavy veil. The black could show that she is mourning her sister’s death or alternatively that she is fearful for her life. The veil may indicate that she is a vulnerable withdrawn person, possibly hiding herself away and that she is certainly not arrogant.
She is like the prey to “a fierce old bird”. Miss Stoner shows her naivety to her sister’s death “It is my belief that she died of pure fear and nervous shock,” it is quite clear that she does not realise how people usually die. She is in awe of the way Holmes can solve puzzles and states before the solution is even found that “My heart is lightened already since I have confided my trouble to you. ” Holmes is polite but patronising towards her “Pray be precise as to the details,” he obviously thinks because she is female that she may forget some vital clue. This is how the population felt in this era, that women were always weak victims.
A murder mystery always has a private detective, sleuth or police officer involved in solving the mystery. Sherlock Holmes is the sleuth in both “The Speckled Band” and “Silver Blaze”. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes was the first fictional detective character. He appears as a middle-aged sleuth and an illustrators view pictures him with a deerstalker, a magnifying glass, a tartan cape and spats. These are not accurate to Conan Doyle’s conception, as they are not mentioned in any of his descriptions. However, people recognise this depiction as a stereotype of Sherlock Holmes.