Helen Stoner

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Helen Stoner

Helen Stoner is instantly stereotyped by readers as a judicious and

unpretentious lady of high society England. Conan Doyle pulls the

strings of the Victorian males desires and creates a 'damsel in

distress', who comes to a man for aid that she does not have the

resources to conclude herself. He portrays her as a woman who is

wronged and in great danger therefore adding to the suspense of the


Analysing the assortment of clothes that she is wearing the reader can

conclude that she is of sufficient 'breeding' and discreet. 'A woman

dressed in black, and heavily veiled' tells us that she is

unaccustomed to travelling around the conurbation solitary. She is

dressed in black as not to attract attention. It was uncommon for

women of a high-class family to travel around the metropolis alone,

she may think this shameful, which is interesting considering that it

contrasts to modern day westernised civilisation where it could be

interpreted as independent.

Manners were of paramount importance in Victorian society, and Helen

Stoner is represented as a woman who is capable of being able to

display the correct 'society manners'. Victorians were very pedantic

about how a woman was allowed to greet any males in her presence. The

fact that she is 'heavily veiled' specifies that she does not wish for

Dr Watson or Mr Holmes to direct any attention to her looks but

instead to her story. This suggests to the reader that no improper

conduct was to be entertained.

Helen Stoner also clearly has a methodical mind. She has natural

intelligence yet is prohibited to show any real deduction that may

question a mans views. This is why she visits Mr Holmes. She has no

power over her stepfather, her views, as a woman would be thought

totally irrational by other males, so she seeks professional (male)

help in the form of Sherlock Holmes. It is comprehensible to me that

she has been pushed beyond her mental limitations as a human being

long ago, 'She raised her veil as she spoke, and we could clearly see

that she was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all

drawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes, like those of some

hunted animal. Her features and figure was those of a woman of thirty,

but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her expression was

weary and haggard' yet she has put up with what she has been reduced

to simply because it was seen as improper for a woman to question what

a man was doing or for a woman to draw attention to her home life.
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