Compare the techniques used to create mystery and suspense by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “The Adventure of The Speckled Band” and Ray Douglas Bradbury in “The Whole Town’s Sleeping”. In this essay I will be comparing the techniques used to create mystery and suspense by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “The Adventure of The Speckled Band” and Ray Bradbury in “The Whole Town’s Sleeping”. I will be focusing on the differences and similarities in setting, structure, characters, language and narration and in endings.
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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote “The Adventure of The Speckled Band” in 1897 during the Boer War. He wrote the mystery story whilst studying to be a doctor at the University of Edinburgh. He was most famous for his Sherlock Holmes mystery stories, which he introduced in 1891. He then moved to Southsea in Hampshire to set up a small practise during his 20’s. In 1954 Ray Douglas Bradbury wrote a short American story, “The Whole Town’s Sleeping” is just an example of many American short stories written by Ray Bradbury.
Ray is known as a science fiction writer and due to this he won innumerable honours and awards.
“The Adventure of The Speckled Band” was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1897 and is similar in some ways to Ray Bradbury’s “The Whole Town’s Sleeping”, which was written in 1954. Although they were set at different times and in different places, the authors used similar techniques to create tension, suspense and mystery in their mystery stories. “The Adventure of The Speckled Band” is set in pre-twentieth century England, in which two detectives solve a very peculiar crime.
Most of the action is set in an old mansion, in one particular room, at night. In contrast to this story, “The Whole Town’s Sleeping” is based in 1950’s America and involves a serial killer, known only as the Lonely One, targeting weak and vulnerable women in a very small and quiet town in Illinois. These stories have their differences but also have similarities in the way both stories take place, far away from help and communication. This established the two authors goals of creating suspense and mystery.
“The Adventure of The Speckled Band” is mainly located around a room in an old mansion in a rural surrey. I think this is because old is thought to be spooky and mysterious and so it creates tension and mystery. However, “The Whole Town’s Sleeping” is set in a very dark and damp ravine, and in a house, which is thought to be a place of safety, “Oh safe at home” (page 9). I believe the ravine was a major setting for danger due to the dead body of Eliza Ramsell found and also because it is dark and quiet, which immediately suggested to me that it is a the perfect surrounding to introduce danger. The ravine is a place where you don’t want to be when you’re on your own as the Town’s think this is where the Lonely One hangs around. Lavinia Nebb’s house is the opposite of the ravine even though it’s a stereotype. A person’s home is thought to be a safe and warm place where you least expect to find the Lonely One.
Lavinia’s living room is turned into a very dangerous area just like the ravine. The ravine is always been described as a very dark and dangerous region, ‘Behind them were the lighted houses and faint radio music; ahead was deepness, moistness, fireflies and dark’ (page 1). It’s through the darkness that the living room is turned into another environment for the Lonely One, “Behind her, in the black living-room, someone cleared his throat”. The fact that in “The Adventure of The Speckled Band” the victim was killed at home made me, the reader think twice about how safe a person’s home really is.
The character of Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of The Speckled Band” is a very unusual one. He is shown to be gentlemen in the way he speaks as he uses very formal language towards his accomplice Watson, his client Helen Stoner and his enemy, Dr Roylott. Even though both Holmes and Watson solve mysteries, they don’t work and so they are able to sleep until mid-day, “He was a late riser” (page 1). The reason for this is Holmes feels his profession has its own reward and so doesn’t require money, “As to my reward, my profession is its own reward” (page 2). This states Holmes obviously has money.
In the Victorian era, men were classed as superior to women, mentally, physically and emotionally and so women did not vote. These are some reasons why upper class women relied on men. In the story men are known as two things, protectors and perpetrators of women. In ‘The Adventure of The Speckled Band’ the protectors are Holmes and Dr Watson and the perpetrator is Dr Roylott. Because of this Dr Roylott physically bullies Helen Stoner, “Five little livid spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon the white wrist”. This shows the reader that Dr Roylott is powerful and aggressive man. Because of this, the reader wants Sherlock Holmes to defeat Dr Roylott, as he does not play by the rules.