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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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is conclusive that the writer wants the reader to feel that the male
has a dominancy over the females when the book states 'Sherlock Holmes
ran her over with one of his quick, all-comprehensive glances'. This
would have reassured the men who were the main readers of the late
18th century, that Miss Stoner was in competent hands, yet in
retrospect women of today's society believe that their own hands are
Although Helen Stoner and Mr Holmes were perceptibly social equals,
she is the women and therefore she must ask for his aid as he is male
and the dominant partner Whilst she speaks to him, he pay heed to what
she tells him and from then on Miss Stoner is seen and not heard. She
is conspicuously obedient to what Mr Holmes has to say and never
challenged his examination of her case. Conan Doyle creates a
character that acts logically and rationally yet Holmes takes enormous
pains to put Miss Stoner at ease.
It was around this time that there was sexual revolution, women were
insistent of more rights but it was still conceivable that the men
were the 'breadwinners' of the families; and women who were
intellectual were seen as dangerous as they challenged the idea that
women were subordinate to men. The Victorian male would admire Helen
Stoner, as she was mentally durable yet she still possessed the
feminine fragility that was notable to the Victorian ere. Not once
after their initial meeting did she question Holmes action, yet if he
was wrong she was likely to loose her life. She has complete trust in
the males around her.
The reason she is so engaging to men is because she is a mans
creation. Conan Doyle makes the women that all other Victorian women
would have envied. Conan Doyle came from a society that viewed women
and a secondary race. The woman's place was at home, making the men
around her as comfortable as possible. The only thing about her that
hints of a hard life is her exterior features, but if these were not
to singular, her emotions hint nothing of the colossal jeopardy that
she has been in for the preceding four weeks. Even when the case is
over and her step father is dead she shows no sign of any hatred or
malice towards her father, but acts like nothing had ever happened, it
was the Victorian way of life, they liked to sweep things under the
carpet and forget the bad days. Helen Stoner portrays what the
Victorians expected from women in the most convincing way possible,
and to the men of the day, she would seem like the perfect Victorian
Helen Stoners depiction confirms that women constantly need help, they
could not solve anything themselves and therefore go to the men. A
women who is intellectually equal to Helen stoner today would probably
be very independent have a successful job and be able to deduct a
situation by herself, and yet the only thing that shows that Miss
Stoner is cerebral is that she can chronologically recount what has
happened to her and her sister over the last few years.
The language that her and Holmes use towards each other is always
painstakingly formal and there is never a time in the book where the
character seem to relax and let their emotions go. They are always
poised and never inappropriate towards one another. Holmes in
chillingly accurate in his deductions and to some this may have been
of putting yet Helen never shows a note of annoyance or fright.
It is appropriate that at the end of the Speckled Band Helen is
Sherlock Holmes is the main character of the story, and in the
Victorian times the central character in the play seems godlike
compared to everyone else who surrounds him. Mr Holmes seems to be the
detective, all other detectives looked up to. However, in the persona
of the 21st century, Holmes would more than likely come across as cold
and calculating. He acts on almost inhuman self-control, never raising
his voice, and even when he is being threatened he seems to be taking
in, analysing and concluding his thoughts on everything around him.
' Ha! You put me off, do you?' said our new visitor, taking a step
forward. And shaking his hunting crop. ' I know you, you scoundrel! I
have heard of you before. You are Mr Holmes the meddler.'
My friend smiled.
'Holmes the busybody'.
His smile broadened.
'Holmes the Scotland Yard jack-in-office'.
Holmes chuckled heartily. 'Your conversation is most entertaining,'
said he. 'When you go out close the door, for there is a decided
Highly developed, appeased and composed he seems to be perfect,
concluding , yet he never once acts supercilious or slick. Everyone
who is close to him has superior confidence in his ability; he
instantly creates a sense of security for people around him. His body
language and the way he is so composed, his vocabulary, all hint to
the fact that he is simply sublime and the 'cream of the crop' so to
'No a client. It seems that a young lady has arrived in a considerable
state of excitement, who insists upon seeing me. She is waiting now in
the sitting-room. Now, when young ladies wander about the metropolis
at this hour of the morning, and knock sleepy people up out of their
beds, I presume that it is something very pressing which they have to
communicate. Should it prove to be an interesting case, you would, I
am sure, wish to follow it from the outset. I thought at any rate that
I should call you, and give you the chance.'
As well as his companions having confidence in him, his own
self-assurance in his ability to solve the mystery of the 'Speckled
Band' or 'The Sussex Vampire' mystery never waivers, not a single
shred of doubt hinge onto his voice in the stories, and they seems to
be high class fairytales, no-one has any worries or doubts, yet in the
real world there would have been so much precautions and reservations
'Very naturally, Mr Ferguson. Now sit here and pull yourself together
and give me a few clear answers. I can assure you that I am far from
being at my wits end, and that I am confident we shall soon find the
solution. First of all, tell me what steps you have taken. Is your
wife still near the children?'
This quote above is a classic example of Holmes' confident in himself
without seeming smug. On the third line down, Holmes says 'We shall
soon find the solution', the word 'we' indicates that although he is
coming to the ultimate conclusion he acknowledges that he needs the
aid of the people around him to complete his inference.
Mr Holmes seems to apply logic and reason to everything around him not
just involving the cases he deals with. It seems like a rather fun
game for him to deduct and conclude simple things that surround him.
' What can it mean?' I gasped
' It means that it is all over,' Holmes answered. 'And perhaps, after
all, it is for the best. Take your pistol, and we shall enter Dr
With a grave face he lit the lamp, and led the way down the corridor.
Twice he struck at the chamber door without any reply from within.
Then he turned the handle and entered, I at his heels, with the cocked
pistol in my hand.
It was a singular sight that met our eyes. On the table stood a dark
lantern with the shutter half open, throwing a brilliant beam of light
upon the iron safe, the door of which was ajar. Beside this table, on
the wooden chair, sat Dr Grimesby Roylott, clad in a long grey
dressing gown, his bare ankles protruding beneath, and his feet thrust
into red heelless Turkish slippers. Across his lap lay the short stock
with the long lash which we had noticed during the day. His chin was
cocked upwards, and his eyes were fixed in a dreadful rigid stare at
the corner of the ceiling. Round his brow he had a peculiar yellow
band, with brownish speckles, which seemed to be bound tightly round
his head. As we entered he made neither sound nor motion.
'The band! The speckled band!' Whispered Holmes.
Although there is a constant allure of upper class women surrounding
him, and with his charm he could probably have most of them, he
doesn't seem to have a disparity to get a female companion, but
instead values the intimate relationship he shares with his partner Dr
Watson. This is interesting because there could be some reasons that
create his feelings towards ladies. It seems reasonable that he may
believe that if a women gets involved in his life it may deduct from
the amount of concentration he pays to his work, or it does seem
possible that he simply loves his work more than he could love any
woman. Whatever his reasons for wanting a lack of a heterosexual
relationship it is ironic that he makes up for this loss with an
intimate relationship between him and his male companion Dr Watson.
When Miss Stoner first meets Mr Holmes, there is a definite note of
reliance in her voice as she discusses with him what she needs him to
do. Holmes, being the true gentleman, never shows any hint of fright
or alarm at her story, although to me it was quiet shocking. After she
has explained herself he calmly yet firmly alleviates her worries and
then explains what he wishes her to do. He shows her sympathy yet
always stays formal, and there is never a note of impatience in her
voice. Although Holmes is amicable towards Miss Stoner he tends to
treat her childlike, speaking to her as if he had planed everything
and never wanted to create a crack in his plan for her to meddle in.
He immediately treats her as his social equal yet intellectually it is
immediately apparent that she is a few steps behind him. Mr Holmes
respects her position and does not patronise her yet his tone and
manner make him seem more important and intellectual to her.
Mr Conan Doyle instantly creates a character that doesn't seem
furtive, presumptuous or arrogant, but more a master of his field or
interest. Although he consistently gives Helen Stoner and Watson
information on the case he does so, that it may not be misinterpreted
as flaunting or boastfulness, Conan Doyle cleverly lets the reader
know that Mr Holmes is a man of peculiar intelligence. Instead of
acting on instinct he is a man of science and therefore always weighs
up his problems in his head before revelling his thoughts to the
people around him. This last statement nay give you the impression
that he is slow yet, he is the opposite, to him life is like a game of
chess, you must weigh up your options and work tactfully towards your
goal, plus Conan Doyle reveals Holmes as having a keen idea o who the
culprit is before the end of the story.
Holmes has a sense of dominancy around him. Although from the
beginning of the stories it is perceptible that he speaks to people as
equals is it also extremely comprehensible to the reader gets the
impression that Holmes always talks slightly down towards his piers.
Watson follows his every move like a faithful Jack Russell, and after
`Mr Holmes is given a short introduction to the problem everyone is
pushed to the background constantly listening to what Holmes has to
say, with total trust in him. They trusts Holmes implicitly, from the
beginning of the stories this is noticeable.
'I believe Mr Holmes that you have already made up your own mind,'
said Miss Stoner, laying her hand upon my companion's sleeve.
'Perhaps I have.'
'Then for pity's sake tell me what was the cause of my sister's death'
'I should prefer to have clearer proofs before I speak.'
' You can at least tell me whether my own thoughts are correct, and if
she did die from some sudden fright.'
When Holmes talks to Mr Ferguson on the other hand, although he is
still polite, he speaks in a much more assertive, businesslike manner,
without much emotional output in his voice. When Mr Ferguson becomes
slightly emotional, Holmes it seems becomes more angry than
'Now sit here and pull yourself together and give me a few clear
This is the way Holmes talks to what Victorian society would call his
equal. Both males, with successful livings, the Victorian people would
have seen this as highly eligible men, who were middle class. Yet
still Holmes is depicted by Conan Doyle as the leader of the bunch,
and Doyle even goes as far as having Mr Holmes setting an example for
'I can assure you I am far from my wits end'
The first real demonstration of Holmes chilling calmness is when he
comes face to face with Dr Roylott. Even when there is a menacing and
imposing male shouting at him he stays calm and collective. It is
chilling that throughout this part in the book Holmes seems to be
calculating Dr Roylott's personality. Once this is over he has
demonstrated calmness and intelligence rising above everyone else
around him, and the intimidation of Dr Roylott to look better.
Holmes is constantly erudite and never seems to be lost for words. He
was able to instantly calm anyone around him down. Always battling for
the good side he is the perfect Victorian hero. He appears to go into
a battle with intellect and foresight as his weapons.
In the 'Sussex Vampire' Holmes first enters the story in his library
with Watson. This is a classic example of how the writer wanted
Sherlock Holmes to be seen as the most intellectual man around and
middle class. Sherlock Holmes was created, and created is the
highlighted word in this story. He was created as the perfect
Victorian in both stories.
Thomas Hardy portrays Tony Kytes as a representative for the typical
working class of the Victorian ere. Tony is obviously an amicable
character, yet it is also apparent that he views things around him in
a very simplistic manner, lacking tenacity and direction throughout
his life. It is possible to contrast him to Sherlock Holmes, Holmes
constantly analysis and personally debates in his head whether he has
taken the best course of action to gain the most profitable results,
yet in total confliction with Holmes Tony Kytes, never once in the
story, 'Tony Kytes, the Arch Deceiver,' deducts whether the actions he
takes were the most beneficial courses.
Although Tony is simple minded throughout the play, he is never
rendered as an uncompromising womaniser, it seems more likely to the
reader that he hasn't got the mental capacity to choose between the
wide girth of women offered to him, so he instead tries to keep them
all. His meaning in life is to get married and produce offspring yet
he does not know who he wishes to share this joyous occasion with, and
dithers his way through life unable to finalise a decision. His
unsophisticated attitude reflects that of a young child, and therefore
he is favoured by the women (who are equal to him intellectually) as
they think that he is cute, he is not presented as a threat but
instead more like a character who is amiable and enjoys the company of
the fairer sex.
Mr Hardy is writing from the historical period of around the end of
the 19th century and from the prospective of a closely interweave
farming community. Although these communities were common in the 19th
century, people who were members of these little communes were rarely
expected to have any real aspirations, beyond marriage, farming and
reproducing, so education was not a necessity. Thomas Hardy strongly
stresses that Tony should be stereotyped as one of these people, a
rural peasant so to speak, who does not require any real training or
anything from life apart from the bare requirements.
All the characters in the story convey to the reader a sense of
innocence and naivety, which could only be successfully produced by a
person who has only obtained primary education.
People of the 21st century are invited to chuckle at Tony's attempts
to avoid telling 2 women that he does not wish to marry them. The fact
that he hides three women in the back of a wagon demonstrates his
complete naivety in handling women; this view is also reinforced by
the fact that Tony tells each of these women that he would join them
in Holy Matrimony. From the beginning of the story it is obvious that
his plan will fail miserably.
Tony appears to be an affectionate soul as he shows friendliness to
all the females that he has in this wagon, yet a sense of weakness is
also unearthed as he seems to put of the fact that he has to tell two
of these women that he cant marry them. He lacks the powers of
decision and his childlike attitude to love, reflects his status in
life, yet seems to be the fatal attraction to the women around him.
It is also amusing that the women seem to manipulate Tony as much, if
not more, than he influences them. It is clear that they all want to
get married and have children as quick as possible and they view Tony
as their vessel throughout this journey. Then know Tony is weak at
heart and is fairly decent looking, throughout the story they are like
saleswomen trying to get Tony to marry them instead of the other women
available. They take advantage of his kind nature and make up the
decisions for him.
Hardy presents Tony as the contrast to the title of the story. It is
understandable from the beginning that Tony is not devious, yet just
someone who allows certain matters to drift so that he does not have
to face an uncomfortable confrontation with the people around him. Not
once throughout the story does Mr Kytes plot or scheme, more like a
rural simpleton he makes up his mind on the moment.
It is curious that Tony's humiliation of the women who want him so
much is unintentional, yet it still happens, and the fact that the
women are not immediately alienated, but instead are willing to
swallow their pride and allow Tony to marry them.
In conclusion Hardy does not present Tony as a deceiver but more the
women as feeble. The Victorian society portrays men as taking all the
initiative in the world and being the hopeless romantic, always making
the first move, the idea of a lady shadowing a gentleman would not
have even been considered. It was thought of as improper, undignified
and hussy-like. However, the liked of Hannah and Unity take no heed of
the proper Victorian way and offer themselves on a Plato to Tony. This
reinforces our views that they are still in a childlike state of mind.