English Society in the Nineteenth Century in Conan Doyle's Works

English Society in the Nineteenth Century in Conan Doyle's Works

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English Society in the Nineteenth Century in Conan Doyle's Works

For my essay I have decided to study Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
"Speckled Band", "Silver Blaze" and "Final Problem". Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories were first published in the London
magazine "The Strand" in 1892. All the stories were kept relatively
short because they had to be published in the magazine. When the
Sherlock Holmes story "The Final Problem" there was a large public out
cry of shock and horror to the death of the character they had got
very attached to over the last 5 - 7 years. His stories were of a
detective genre.

The Victorian period was mainly built on a class system almost pyramid
like. At the very bottom there was the people who could not support
themselves, e.g. Beggars etc. Further up there was the lower class
that worked in the factories and could just about support them. On the
same level of the lower class were the servants. The next level up was
the Labourers who worked for/with the working class and upper classes.
The Working class were the next ones up they were the Doctors etc,
e.g. Dr Watson. The next class up was the middle class; they lived off
inheritance and owned factories. Upper class owned a lot of land and
factories they lived in the country. Next up were the Aristocrats,
lords, ladies etc these people did not need to work, they were the
ones one step down from the King or queen.

Women and children of higher classes did not have to work, the
children received a good education and the women stayed at home. But
the lower classed women and children had to work in factories to
support their families. Industrial revolution gave the lower classes a
source of money in the cities, most people left the country life to
live in the cities and make more money. They lived in poor housing
conditions called slums and made little money, some even resorted to

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes a lot of people had
lost faith in the London police, as there was a lot of corruption,
Sherlock shows this by showing that he is a lot cleverer than the
police force. He really does show the police up to no extent.

The stories are written in first person by Dr.Watson who uses his
notes and memory to write them. All the stories are based on detective
genre with a very big twist in the end and clues that only Sherlock
picks up on. Sherlock Holmes' character fits perfectly in his class as

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the people who read the stories are all middle to working class and
can relate to what he is saying. He offers security and success in all
of his crimes by solving them is such a remarkable manner that it
shocked and amazed the reader.

In The story "The Speckled Band" the scene is set in an old Victorian
house in the English countryside. The house is having heavy repairs.
We see that women where mistreated in Victorian times as Holmes says
to Helen "you have been cruelly used". Watson shows that he doesn't
think the same as Holmes by saying "You have evidently seen more in
these rooms that was visible to me", Holmes corrects Watson on this by
saying "Your presence might be invaluable", even though Holmes is very
intelligent he may miss certain aspects of the case. He also insults
the police by saying to them "Fancy his having the insolence to
confound me with the official detective force", which he basically
states that he is insulted to be working with the police.
There are misleading facts added to the story, which lead you in
different directions, for example "Were there gypsies in the
plantation?" This makes you instantly think that the gypsies had done

The atmosphere of the story changes throughout. It is mostly focused
on the surroundings and emphasises on darkness, for example "A moment
later we were out on the dark road" and "cry of a night-bird".
"Silver Blaze" is set on the moors in the middle of Dartmoor. This
tells you that it is miles away from anywhere. The nearest stables are
miles away from each other, giving the feeling that they are all
alone, far away from help.

Opium was a widely used drug; it could be quite dangerous in large
quantities. This made it perfect for making people sleep and
forgetting what had happened. Therefore, perfect for the crime.
Holmes made it quite clear that he did things his way, not "by the
book", and liked to keep things to himself until he thought the time
was right to reveal what he had found, by saying, "I follow my own
methods, and tell much or little as I choose". This insures that he
doesn't give people ideas until he is certain that he himself is
certain about what he has found.

When Holmes asks questions about the case he replies with
"A clever counsel would tear it all to rags" which states that what
the police have come up with is no use as it would not get a court
anywhere, the evidence is useless. He also has a laugh on the
inspector's behalf by saying

" My dear Inspector, you surpass yourself!" By this he means he is
surprised by the Inspectors intelligence.

Dr Watson, even though he is a doctor, is added to Sherlock Holmes as
his close companion to show how cleaver Sherlock Holmes really is. Dr
Watson, by showing himself up to some extent, makes Sherlock Holmes
look very superior over him. The way Dr Watson is used is to give you
a better understanding of how Sherlock's mind works, even though Dr
Watson is classed as a very cleaver individual him self.

With the corruption of the initial police force it was important to
make Sherlock of a higher standard. That's why people got so attached
to Sherlock Holmes stories because they filled them with hope and
security over the average police force. It was important that the
police force were in able of solving crimes because Sherlock showed
them up and proved all their predictions wrong.

Each setting is to do with the class system, and seeing that middle
classed and working classed people where the readers the settings
usually where, Big houses in the country and to do with people in the
higher classes. The victims are of these classes and are usually
victims of people of a lower class or the same class as themselves,
this makes it easy to relate to the peoples problems in the story.

The crimes committed all include a well thought out story line and a
twist, that nobody but Sherlock himself can see, this is what makes
Sherlock Holmes so impressive.

The way the stories are structured and the usage of words is some what
different to the language we use today. The words are phrases are old
Victorian English so at points they become difficult to read, but once
you get into the storylines you seem to work out the old English and
don't have many problems. It isn't hard to get into the very catchy

I think the Sherlock Holmes stories are well thought out and are very
easy to get into, due to the extensively brilliant story lines and
twists that they include.
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