Doyle’s use of suspense

Quote:“I listened with rapt attention to the strange story which Dr. Watson had told me. It was so different from anything which I had ever heard that I was at my wits’ end to know what to think of it. That a venomous snake should have been used in such a way seemed to me to be incredible, but the fact that the creature had been found in Dr. Roylott’s room, and that it was undoubtedly the same one which had caused the deaths of Mrs. Stoner and Julia Stoner, was so obvious that it could not be denied.” (Chapter 1 


This passage from “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” is a key example of Doyle’s use of suspense and atmosphere to create a chilling and suspenseful story. The passage begins with Watson recounting the strange story of Helen Stoner, a young woman whose sister has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Stoner believes that her stepfather, Dr. Roylott, is responsible for her sister’s death, and she tells Watson that she fears for her own life. Doyle uses a variety of techniques to create suspense in this passage. First, he describes the story with the words “strange” and “incredible,” which sets the tone for the rest of the story. After that, he uses vivid language to describe the snake, such as its “venomous fangs” and its “cold, slimy scales.” Lastly, he creates a sense of urgency and danger by suggesting that Helen Stoner is in danger from her stepfather. The passage is also significant because it introduces the reader to the main character, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is a brilliant and eccentric detective who is known for his ability to solve even the most difficult cases. In this passage, Holmes is introduced as a listener, someone who is willing to listen to all of the facts of a case before drawing any conclusions. This is an important quality for a detective, and it is one of the things that makes Holmes such a successful investigator.

This close reading of the passage helps us to understand Doyle’s use of suspense and atmosphere, as well as the character of Sherlock Holmes. It also provides us with a deeper understanding of the sensation genre. Sensation fiction is a type of fiction that is designed to thrill and excite readers. It often features elements of mystery, suspense, and violence. Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” is a classic example of sensation fiction. The story is full of twists and turns, and it keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Throughout the reading I found myself changing my guess of what happened multiple times based on the information given. The close reading of the passage also helps us to understand the importance of foreshadowing in sensation fiction. Doyle foreshadows the murder of Helen Stoner by describing the venomous snake and the danger that it poses. This foreshadowing creates a sense of suspense and anxiety in the reader, and it makes the murder more shocking and unexpected. Overall, the close reading of this passage from “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” helps us to better understand Doyle’s writing style, the character of Sherlock Holmes, and the sensation genre as a whole.

One thought on “Doyle’s use of suspense”

  1. Use of vocabulary is often an under utilized part of media in general, so for you to have noticed and written about it is a very key part of your analysis. The sensation fiction era was a key part of writing history, where use of vocabulary was the determining factor that sold your book or left you broke. Its very important to realize the difference between good sensation fiction and bad is the use of words.

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