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Fair Detective


The Speckled Band

“’My name is Sherlock Holmes… Pray draw up to it, and I shall order you a cup of hot coffee, for I observe that you are shivering.’

“It is not cold which makes me shiver,” said that woman in a low voice, changing her seat as requested.

‘It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror.’ She raised her veil as she spoke, and we could 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 haunted animal. Her features and figure were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her expression was weary and haggard. Sherlock Holmes ran her over with one of his quick, all-comprehensive glances.” (Doyle 132)


After reading strictly Lady Audley and how women and their actions were interpreted by Robert, the way Holmes interacts with the ladies he encounters is impressive. First, he begins by offering Helen Stoner hot coffee as he notices she is shivering. Then as she removes her black veil, Watson narrates all the details and inferences he can make just by the state of her face. Had Stoner been a character in LA, Robert would have deducted that she was a powerful woman with great acting skills and that he would fear the people she could manipulate.


Unless it was romance, I don’t think men took women seriously during this period. Women were not able to work, they couldn’t really own property, and they were deemed too emotional and sensitive. Sherlock Holmes is a feminist detective in the way that he was able to resolve this issue without ever once concluding that Stoner was mad. Of course, this is the bare minimum, however, that is easier to say as a reader in the twenty-first century where this is the norm. Had it been Robert, or any other detective, they would have thought Stoner was mad and that she had a hidden object the men were unaware of.


That is what makes this novel sensational. They include many of the gothic motifs, like place & time, crisis, and supernatural, and the real, without the sexism/power aspect between the main protagonist and the victims he encounters which allows readers to focus solely on the mystery of the cases Holmes solves.

Blog post #2

      “What had been his love for his first wife but a poor, pitiful, smoldering spark, too dull to be extinguished, too feeble to burn? But this was love—thiS fever, this longing, this restless, uncertain, miserable hesitation; these cruel fears that his age was an insurmountable barrier to his happiness; this sick hatred of his white beard; this frenzied wish to be young again, with glistening raven hair, and a slim waist, such as he had twenty years before; these, wakeful nights and melancholy days, so gloriously brightened if he chanced to catch a glimpse of her sweet face behind the window curtains, as he drove past the surgeon’s house; all these signs gave token of the truth, and told only too plainly that, at the sober age of fifty-five, Sir Michael Audley had fallen ill of the terrible fever called love.

If he ever remembered these things, he dismissed the thought of them with a shudder. It pained him too much to “believe for a moment that any one so lovely and innocent could value herself against a splendid house or a good old title.” (Lady Audley’s Secret, Chapter 1)

The passage I chose to analyze for this blog post is from Lady Audley’s Secret. Early into chapter one, the narrator describes Sir Michael Audley’s first marriage, and his desire to have a young and beautiful wife at the age of fifty-five. The passage vividly describes Michael Audley’s former marriage as “mediocre” by saying “the spark was too dull to be extinguished and too feeble to burn”. Furthermore, it even goes on to say that he might have been secretly relieved by the demise of his wife and sheds a light on Michael Audley’s desires and how his actions have contributed to the things that happen in the novel.

As we know Michael is hopelessly obsessed with Lucy Graham and is blind to her atrocious doings which are happening right under his nose. He is almost a puppet to Lucy’s plans and hunger to have a life of high social status and riches. The way the passage describes Lucy Graham early on in the novel is quite in convention with the gothic genre as Lucy Graham’s features are excessively highlighted and sexualized while it appears she has underlying motivations and also portraying the characteristic of femme fatale. Michael is in denial by the very fact that Lucy’s intentions for marrying him was only for his social status and wealth. Consequently, ending up portraying Michael Audley as a symbol of innocence and naivety and is quite ironic that this is exactly how Lucy Graham was described in the beginning of the novel.

Xenophobia in the Speckled Band


Throughout the Speckled Band it is clear that anything foreign or exotic is dangerous and that can be especially seen in the descriptions of Dr. Roylett. “[T]he wandering gipsies” (135) are instantly the first suspect of Holmes and Watson even though Holmes himself admits, “I see many objections to any such a theory” (140). Despite these misgivings, Holmes continues this line of investigation until it is proven completely impossible. He admits this near the end of the story saying, “The presence of the gipsies…were sufficient to put me upon an entirely wrong scent” (151).  

Additionally, the ultimate cause of death ended up being a “swamp adder…the deadliest snake in India” (150). The knowledge Dr. Roylott used to kill his daughter “would only occur to a clever and ruthless man who had an Eastern training” (151). To Holmes, an eastern education automatically creates an evil, snakelike person who is ready and willing to kill. Foreignness seems to equate to enhanced nefariousness. Helen Stoner claims, “Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary…and in my stepfather’s case it had, I believe, been intensified by his long residence in the tropics” (134).  

I think Arthur Conan Doyle chose to repeatedly portray exoticness as dangerous because at the time the short story was written the British empire was losing power. If England was portrayed as superior to the countries they were losing their grasp on, the British people could still feel superior globally. 

Phrenology, Detective Fiction, and Psychics, Why Bigotry is Fucking Stupid and Makes Bad Characters

“You interest me…covet your skull.” (Doyle 1)

Dear Reader,

I’ve read all of the original canon. I know that this isn’t the only explanation for why Holmes is as good as he is. Holmes references various studies and is always doing wild experiments. I am well aware of that. But stating that it’s genetics that make Holmes capable of doing all those studies and wild experiments, that the fucking lumps in his skull are what allows him to do all that? Doyle must’ve sampled some of Holmes’ vices when he wrote this line.

To chalk up Holmes’ incredible prowess as him simply being “built different,” is fucking ludicrous from both a scientific and literary angle. It saves Holmes from any great depth and quite frankly makes his accomplishments feel unearned. To see it done right I’d like to introduce you to my favorite show, Psych.

Psych is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that doesn’t let our protagonist, Shawn Spencer, off the hook that easily. Shawn uses similar methods of deduction to Sherlock to at least the same degree of skill, solving various crimes as a consultant. The twist of Psych is that he’s so good that the only explanation that will satisfy the cops, other than him being an inside man, is him being psychic, being “built different.” The difference between Holmes and Shawn is we’re never meant to believe that Shawn actually has some sort of genetic gift that allows him to be an amazing detective. Shawn was trained from a young age to be an amazing detective, and he’s gotten damn good at it without any handwavy bullshit from the author. Everything that Shawn does feels earned. Most episodes show us how he earned it with flashbacks to him and his father doing some sort of training in the art of deduction.

Whenever you ask the question. “Why did Sherlock know such and such thing?” You can go through different explanations but in the end, you’ll always end up in the same place. “Because he’s Sherlock Holmes.”

It’s pseudoscience like phrenology that chalks up all of Holmes’ skill to nothing more than his genetics that grinds my gears. Because if he’s genetically destined to be a great detective then where is his free will? I like it when I feel like my characters have control over their fates.

Fuck bigoted pseudoscience that reduces people and characters to who they are and not what they do.

Yours From the Moon and Back,

Carmine “Red” Zuigiber

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have drank : how foreshadowing works with the audience


“If I had been in my senses, I should have considered him, personally, as being rather a suspicious specimen of an old soldier. He had goggling, bloodshot eyes, mangy mustaches, and a broken nose. His voice betrayed a barrack-room intonation of the worst order, and he had the dirtiest pair of hands I ever saw—even in France. These little personal peculiarities exercised, however, no repelling influence on me. In the mad excitement, the reckless triumph of that moment, I was ready to “fraternize” with anybody who encouraged me in my game. I accepted the old soldier’s offered pinch of snuff; clapped him on the back, and swore he was the honestest fellow in the world—the most glorious relic of the Grand Army that I had ever met with. “Go on!” cried my military friend, snapping his fingers in ecstasy—“Go on, and win! Break the bank—Mille tonnerres! my gallant English comrade, break the bank!”



In this passage of “THE TRAVELER’S STORY OF A TERRIBLY STRANGE BED”,There’s a highlight of the state of mind and vulnerability. The narrator’s description of the soldier’s appearance and behavior suggests that he is not a trustworthy or desirable companion. The use of phrases like “rather a suspicious specimen,” “barrack-room intonation of the worst order,” and “the dirtiest pair of hands” reinforces this notion. There’s also some clues that also sets up how the character sees the world around them as a foreign and unkempt world with the quotation of “even in France”. Accompanied with the soldier’s ecstatic attitude gives the reader even more suspicion on his true intention. Yet with the mix of alcohol and the “reckless triumph” that really highlight how common sense and logic is distorted. I believe that this is a great foreshadow to what’s to come in the short story and sets up an unnerving attitude towards the old soldier. To be more specific, with how the passage started with “if i had been in my senses”, it really shows how the narrator has such an unreliable point of view and judgment that makes the soldier’s appearance and attitude even more disturbing. This type of foreshadowing is really prominent within the sensation genre where the authors may gives us a foreshadowing of the main character’s fate within the next chapters. This not only makes interests the readers more but make them anticipate what’s gonna happen and how bad it could get. In short, this passage is a perfect example of a hindsight perspective on a bad situation.

The Sacred Skull

“You interest me very much, Mr. Holmes. I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic A skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have any objection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum. it is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.”(10)

This is a passage at the very beginning of the novel when Sherlock is introduced to Dr. James Mortimer. This passage striked me as very monstrous and creepy in nature. It paints Dr. Mortimer as having some secret devious villiness nature. Dr. Mortimer is a Phrenologist and is deeply interested in Sherlock’s brain. This is most likely because of his almost supernatural talent for observation. So along with the mystery of Baskersvill, there is also the mystery of the great Sherlock Holmes. Something that specifically irked me about this passage was when Dr. Mortimer said “…running my finger along your parietal fissure?”. This quote made me feel like Sherlock was a specimen in a lab, a great gift to science rather than a human being. I can imagine the joy that would come with his death and the obtaining of his skull. The way it would be prodded at and picked apart. This great man shrouded in mystery being the object of every Phrenologist’s affection,”I confess that I covet your skull.” This passage is overall a very strange and out of place thing. For starters it is presented so early in the novel. It also puts Holmes in a less than ideal light. From his other books and various popular culture, we are used to seeing Sherlock as the one who has all the answers and is the one picking people and facts apart. Yet here, the narrative is flipped. This is leading me to wonder if this is an indication of coming strife for Holmes later on. I think this because we here Mr. Mortimer talked of the “best” a few pages earlier. Saying that Sherlock is number two. Does this mean that Sherlock will become somewhat of a Watson to this greater entity?

Fear and Terror, Holmes has to take this seriously.

“It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror.” She raised her veil as she spoke, and we could 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 were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her expression was weary and haggard.”

This specific passage in the text felt quite sensational, as this is the first instance in which we are able to gauge the magnitude of the problem that Ms. Stoner is facing. By the descriptive nature of the text we can infer that Ms. Stoner has obviously been very shaken up by what’s going on, and the premature grayness/ expression points to something serious. At this point in the story we can take these adjectives to be anything, which is what I consider to be the possibility of a monster or madness. From what we know about Sherlock Holmes stories in general, they usually deal with identifying problems and solving them in the name of social justice. He helps all kinds of people, and the mysteries he solves are not one that an average person would be able to crack. It must be a sensational problem in order for someone to go to him, and this problem turned out to be unsolvable to the nonwatchful eye. The words “It is fear Mr. Holmes. It is terror.”, followed by a description of a ghostly looking human is the definition of madness. I inferred that Holmes and Watson’s first impression of Ms. Stoner was one that pointed towards her having mental health problems, as they did not take the case seriously at first (jokes were mentioned) and Holmes didn’t fill in Watson as to what his thoughts were until later in the book once the premise of Ms. Stoner’s story became a reality. Meeting Dr. Roylott was a turning point in the story, as the way he was described was something of a very powerful person. This can also be considered sensational or mad, because he is seen as more than a normal man.

Lamb to the Slaughter

“‘It is not cold that makes me shiver,’ said the woman in a low voice, changing her seat as requested. ‘What then?’ ‘It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror.’ She raised her veil as she spoke, and we could 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 were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey…” (Doyle 132).


This initial description of Helen Stoner does a nice job of setting up the story. There are many words that fall in line with the monstrosity/madness of the entire text. First are the words “fear” and “terror,” which are attributed to the unusual death of Helen’s sister. The presence of a veil is also quite revealing. Veils are traditionally worn to protect or conceal the face, which feeds into the common theme of secrecy throughout the works we are reading. Helen’s face being described as drawn and grey puts imagery into the mind of the reader that can be likened to a corpse or a ghost. Juxtaposed with the following descriptions of “restless, frightened eyes,” this section makes Helen out to be a lamb to the slaughter. In fact, this passage explicitly denotes Helen as resembling some sort of hunted animal. The animals present in the story provide a nice flavor to the text. We learn that Grimesby Roylott practiced medicine in India and brought back with him a handful of pets, including a cheetah and baboon, and an extremely venomous snake, as we later learn. Perhaps all the animals present amongst the humans is Arthur Conan Doyle’s way of likening humans to animals in the sense that we are both selfishly after personal gain. Roylott, as Sherlock Holmes discovers, wishes to kill his step daughters in an effort to avert the conditions of the prenuptial agreement and save money for himself. Meanwhile, Helen defends herself stubbornly by contacting Holmes and Watson, like a cornered snake would defend itself from a predator. The cherry on top of Doyle’s imagery is the rapidly aging young woman. As readers, we can sympathize with the emotional toll put on Helen by recent events. Every tidbit of illustration leads the reader to understand that Helen is on borrowed time if it weren’t for the heroism of Sherlock Holmes.

The Clash of Indian and English cultures in the Speckled Band


“But a terrible change came over our stepfather about this time. Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with out neighbors, who had at first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in his house, and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels wit whoever might cross his path.” (Doyle 134).

This passage describes the mental deterioration of Dr. Roylott following his return from India and the death of his wife, but I believe this passage and the overall story of “The Speckled Band” is a xenophobic tale that teaches readers to fear and dislike Indian culture.

Roylott’s neighbors, described as being overjoyed by his return, show that before his great trip to India, he was a rather well respected, sought after doctor and person, that benefitted those around him, and was nice to be around. However, his interactions with those around him became ferocious and rare following his return from India. I believe these details are meant to show that the influence of outside cultures on Roylott, and his lifestyle in India created a harsh and brash person, who found himself disliking the British. Roylott returned with animals of India, Baboons and Cheetahs, furthering his development into a representation of Indian culture in the story. The first line, saying “terrible change”, tells the reader that Roylott was not this way before his venture to India, and that clearly the ideas and culture that influenced him while he was there is the reason that he changed.

Additionally, beyond this terrible change, during Roylott’s attack on Helen, he uses a snake, the Speckled Band, to kill her. This act, the use of an Indian snake, I believe is significant on the xenophobic tale, because Roylott did not use an English weapon or method of attack, instead letting a foreign snake do the deed. The snake is representative of the evil that other cultures, specifically India and the cultures that England had conquered, were dangerous influences on the sound minds of the English, and would create such false ideas in their mind as to kill their own family members.

Every Family Has its Secrets

In the speckled band the Doctor came to talk to Holmes saying, “’I will go when I have had my say. Don’t you dare to meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here- I traced her! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here.’ He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands.” (Doyle, 141). Within this quotation the Doctor uses very threatening adjectives such as ‘dare’, ‘meddle’, ‘dangerous’, and ‘foul’. He uses this vocabulary to exemplify his power to Holmes to scare him away from solving the mystery involving the death of the Doctor’s step-daughter. This fear of the law was common during the Victorian era because families wanted to maintain respect to their family name. In the Lady Audley’s secret, they keep Lady Audley from going to court for attempting to murder George for the same reason of maintaining respect. The use of power here is also consistent with gothic fiction. Here the power is used to compel Holmes into stopping his search for the truth. He proves this by showing his strength in bending the poker. The description of the Doctor also creates an image for the reader when getting to the end of the short story, which makes it make more sense that he would be playing with this dangerous snake from India. Without this quotation the reader wouldn’t have the characterization to make the ending believable.