There are two forms of detective story: there is the 'who dunnit' idea
in which gentlemen detectives are called upon in all sorts of
impossible situations, but always manage to solve the crime. In this
type, the reader has a good idea of who committed the 'crime';
however, the characters in the story don't. The other type of story is
a mystery, in which neither reader nor investigators know who is
responsible for the crime; together with the characters, the reader
too is invited to figure out the sequence of events.
In the Sherlock Holmes stories the focus is on the character of the
detective himself (Sherlock Holmes) and follows the story of him
solving a mystery. Sherlock Holmes (S.H) was a legendary figure as he
was the very first fictional detective; his stories were written in
the Victorian times by the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The S.H stories have many common features. For example S.H is seen to
be very well organised and by the end, his efforts have concluded in
solving the mystery/crime. This has made it easier for Bret Harte to
parody Conan Doyle's style; he uses many similar features like the
same old fashioned language and also in having Sherlock Holmes or
Hemlock Jones (as he is called in the parody), portrayed as a very
precise, eccentric detective.
In the original story, we are told of how Miss Mary Sunderland goes to
S.H to find Mr Hosmer Angel-her missing bridegroom-who disappeared on
the day of their wedding. S.H manages to find this man, so uncovering
the fact that it is her step-father in disguise!
In the parody; 'The Stolen Cigar Case', Hemloc...
... middle of paper ...
...ered your honour for it-that stolen cigar
case was the purchaser of the sealskin coat". This left Watson
stunned. However by the time H.J has finished his long speech about
how Watson must have taken it, Watson was left doubting his own
sanity, Even though he knew deep down he hadn't stolen the cigar case.
When Hemlock realised that it had been in his draw all along he was
"vexed" and in shock as he said slowly "I have been mistaken", despite
this he still didn't apologise to Watson for accusing him.
I think Bret Harte did an effective parody of the Sherlock Holmes
stories as they are already over the top to start with, so it must
have been difficult to compete with that. I think he achieved a comic
affect within his version of the story and was good at enlarging the
ridiculousness of it for the humour of the reader.
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