Isolation in Detective Fiction

1299 Words6 Pages
In detective fiction, authors create chaos, which they balance with a sense of structure and reason. They implement many elements to entice the reader to continue with the detective on his quest to solve the riddle and defeat the chaos, which can be divided into two sections: noticeable chaos and silent chaos. Noticeable chaos includes elements such as murder and thievery, obvious aspects of detective fiction that make the reader cringe. Silent chaos, on the other hand, includes locked rooms and settings; things that make the reader shiver because they have no idea why it is affecting them so much. Authors use these different elements to support common themes that are woven into many different works of detective fiction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Jacques Futrelle’s “The Problem of Cell 13” each support the theme of isolation in detective fiction. Throughout detective fiction, isolation instills the silent chaos and fear of separation into society.

One element of detective fiction that authors use to create isolation and implement silent chaos is the locked room element. In many detective stories characters are placed in locked rooms or locations where there seems to be no way in or out. One of society's biggest fears is being alone or in solitude; the locked room element plays up this fear in the readers and in the characters making them feel as though nothing good happens in the locked room. One locked room that readers are introduced to is Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. While Dr. Jekyll is in his laboratory, he is separated from everyone else, an...

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...es every persons heart. Whether it be a locked room, an animalistic personality, or a setting which removes the reader from reality, isolation is used to embody silent chaos. The theme of isolation is prevalent in many works of detective fiction, and it imprints upon the reader the silent fear that creeps up in the dead of night and does not go away.

Works Cited

Doyle, Arthur Conan. “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”. Detective Fiction: Crime and Compromise. Eds. Dick Allen and David Chacko. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1974. 101-120. Print.

Futrelle, Jacques. “The Problem of Cell 13”. Detective Fiction: Crime and Compromise. Eds. Dick Allen and David Chacko. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1974. 122-150. Print.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Mineola: Dover Publications Inc., 1991. Print.
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