The short stories

Holmes was known for his use of disguise to get more background information. In a scandal in Bohemia, Holmes acts as “a drunken-looking groom”. Watson exclaims “I had to look three times before I was certain that it was indeed he”. He takes on un-usual cases, which are slightly abnormal and bizarre. This is part of the attraction of the mysteries, as normal cases wouldn’t attract readers and there would be less scope for unusual endings or twists. To solve this crimes, Holmes performs a ‘formula’, which is started by the person who the crime has been committed against explains all they have to tell him, he takes in every small detail.

He then looks at the victim and can tell many things by the way the sit and hands and small things. We can see this in ‘The Red-Headed League’, where Holmes is talking about what he observed about the victim. “You hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. ” As you can see from that quote, he picked up on very small things but could tell a lot from them. Although he uses conventional detective methods mainly, his ability to notice and catalogue smaller insignificant facts is somewhat unusual, this adds to his power because he alone understands the answer, leaving the reader guessing.

In this respect, he can be compared to Hercule Poirot who was known as ‘extremely observant’. After the observation is over, he will usually schedule a visit to the site of the crime to add to his vast amount of information. Then through conjecture, deduction and proof he finally solves the crime. We can see this in the story of ‘The man with the twisted lip’- ‘I am staying there while I conduct the inquiry’. Here is talking about staying at the victim’s house, with the wife of the victim, whilst looking further into the matter.

‘Red herrings’ are used to provide suspense, excitement and tension, making the reader want to read on. Many ‘red herrings’ are used in ‘The Speckled Band’. We are told of a baboon and a cheetah in the grounds, which may have had a link with the deaths. However, when we are told about a mysterious speckled band, we immediately assume that the gypsies with speckled head bands, who also camp on the grounds, could have been associated with the death. Doyle uses these red herrings very effectively, and uses them so it gives the reader the wrong impression of the crime but yet again, Holmes knows the real truth of the crime.

It makes Holmes appear as a far superior character because he looks at the facts, whilst the reader can become so involved with these side-plots or ‘red herrings’ that they are blinded to the truth. Also, due to the fact that Watson, as our narrator, falls for these ‘red herrings’ means we believe him, because we are “closer, in a sense, to him. Conan Doyle uses suspense to keep his reader interested in many various ways. One of these is the opening- some of which can be very dramatic. His description of people are very detailed which builds up a mental picture of the scenario.

Sherlock constantly refuses to reveal the answer to the end, but says things that intrigue the reader. In the mysteries, Holmes provides a driving wagon for the cases, solving them whilst also making them seem realistic – rather than a far-fetched idea which could only happen within literature, and not within the modern world. He also concludes each story with a ‘summing up’ of how the plot has developed, and how he has been crucial to the case. In this, we find out the final resolution to the case, which we have been unaware of up until the end.

It keeps the reader in suspense and makes people read the entire story just to find out the ending, which is usually different to how they imagined it, due to the red-herrings within Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. I think that the stories show classic detective genre as all the stories have a classic villain. Also Doyle uses short, dramatic sentences. He shows a lot of expression through his punctuation. Doyle creates suspense (making it a classic detective genre) by using the word ‘suddenly’.

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