Sherlock Holmes Comparing ‘The Veiled Lodger’, ‘The Speckled Band’ and ‘Silver Blaze’ In this essay I am going to compare three Sherlock Holmes stories. Two of the stories involve females as the victims whereas the other doesn’t. These two stories also have something to do with loved ones. All three stories are to do with a murder that has happened and are in the same detective, mystery genre. There are a few similarities between two of these stories, ‘The Veiled Lodger’ and ‘The Speckled Band’ as both of these stories are about some sort of a murder that has happened.
In ‘The Veiled Lodger’ the victim is only able to come to Holmes when somebody dies, she can no longer protect them as they are dead. This means she is finally able to tell Holmes the whole story. In ‘The Speckled Band’ the victim’s sister dies so she has to go to Holmes for help. This makes these two stories quite similar, we can compare these similarities with the differences of ‘Silver Blaze. ‘ ‘The Veiled Lodger’ is about someone, called Mrs Render, coming forward to Holmes about a crime she and her lover committed whilst in the circus.
The crime was – her lover and Mrs Render plotting and going through with a murder on her husband who she wanted to leave because he was beating her. The plan goes wrong and her lover escapes, leaving Mrs Render with an upset lion who turns on her causing her face so much damage that she now feels she must cover her face at all times. If she hadn’t have gone to see Holmes then he would never have solved the crime. Now her lover is dead she can tell the tale. ‘The Speckled Band’ is about a family from Surrey called the Royletts.
The mother dies and leaves her two daughters all her money, but they can only have it when they. The Step-Father must keep it until then. One daughter becomes engaged, then, mysteriously, the night after she has told her Step-Father the good news she is killed. The other daughter finds this suspicious and odd as no-one can find the cause of her sister’s death. She goes to Holmes to find out if he can solve the mystery. ‘Silver Blaze’ is abit different to the other two stories as it is about the abduction of a horse and the murder of its trainer.
The police officer accuses the wrong person. After looking closely at the clues and with a little help from Watson, Holmes solves the crime. He finds out that is was actually the horse that killed the trainer because the trainer was trying to injure the horse and jeopardise the horse’s chances of winning the race. We can compare the victims in both ‘The Veiled Lodger’ and ‘The Speckled Band. ‘ Both victims are female, Mrs Render from ‘The Veiled Lodger’ and Helen Stoner from ‘The Speckled Band. ‘ Mrs Render was once in the circus with her husband, Mr Render.
During the story nothing much was given away about Mrs Render’s personality except in the past it seems like she used to be a really energetic, outgoing bubbly woman but now she likes to keep herself to herself and not trouble anyone. ‘You could not have a quieter lodger, or one who gives less trouble’ In the story we find out that her husband was a wife beater maybe this, plus the fact that she wears a veil all the time could have something to do with why she seems to have gone back into her shell.
She has been in the circus since she was ten. We also find out that she was once a very beautiful woman but since the accident she has covered her face in a veil and looks thin and ill. ‘Her health, Mr Holmes. She seems to be wasting away. ‘ The story doesn’t really tell us much about how has felt in the past, it does however tell us how she feels after the accident. Towards the end of the story she tells Holmes that she feels that low about herself she wants to commit suicide. ‘Your life is not your own he said keep your hands off it. Mrs Render has something in common with Helen Stoner, as Helens Step-Father seems to have a really short temper and seems to go completely mad and angry at times and loose control. Helen Stoner is less than thirty years old yet her hair is starting to turn a silver grey colour and her facial expressions seem to be growing old too soon. ‘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. ‘ Her family was at one time amongst the richest in England but the last four successive heirs were ‘dissolute and wasteful’ so eventually there was nothing left.
The description at the start of the story tells us that she is very nervous and frightened. ‘She was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all drawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes’ The grey hair at such a young age tells us that she has maybe suffered a stressful life so far. In the past it seems that she didn’t or indeed doesn’t like the life she living. She also feels extremely isolated. This is something that she has in common with Mrs Render, showing that these two characters are very similar.
Maybe both characters are bruised by something that has happened in the past and they both can’t seem to get away from it, like it is haunting them. Another set of characters which have similarities are the ‘villains’ Mr Render and Dr Roylett. The first thing that I noticed about both characters was their fiery tempers. Both characters are ‘uncontrollable in his anger’ It also seems to me that both men enjoy being around wild or exotic animals. Mr Render owned a circus which had a wild lion and Dr Roylett had his roaming cheetah and baboon. It seems that, from what has been said about Dr Royletts background his life has been up and down.
He has taken a medical degree then went out to Calcutta where he set up his own large practice. After robberies at his house in anger ‘he beat his native butler to death and narrowly escaped a capital sentence’ he was put in prison then returned to England a ‘morose and disappointed man’ Once his wife died things went even more down hill. The way that these characters are described gives the reader clues to what their personalities are like. At one point Mr Render is described as ‘a huge porcine’ the reader gets the impression that Mr Render is a large pig like looking man.
Dr Roylett is also described at some point ‘a fierce old bird of prey’ this gives the impression that people are scared of him and that he is pretty old and also it seems that no-one will go near him. Dr Roylett has the same sort of look as Mr Render, a kind of big scary look ‘he was a huge manâ€¦faceâ€¦marked with every evil passion. ‘ He is made out to be quite an alcoholic and is known also to be a bully. ‘He has bile shot eyes’ Describing the two men like this gives the reader the impression that people are scared of them and also the faces of these two men suggest evil.
It’s as if the features of the men fit perfect to their behaviour towards woman and other people. From the two stories you get the impression that BOTH men are known to beat people up and that people were scared of them. The description of the as ‘beasts’ tells us how people felt about them. Mr Render’s attitude towards his wife was not very pleasant as we know that if Mrs Render didn’t do something Mr Render asked or if she did something he disapproved of then he used to beat her. This shows that he had very little respect for his wife and was really controlling of what she does.
He also had very little respect for his employees as he had been really horrid to some that they had decided to leave his circus, because of these people leaving his circus was slowly but surly going don hill. Dr Roylett also treated a lot of people with disrespect but he went about it differently, by using brut force. While in India he killed his butler and became the ‘terror of the village’. Also he become very unpopular with the neighbours when ‘he hurled the local blacksmith over a parapet into a stream’ this tells us that he is very strong.
Even though these stories were written in the Victorian era when women were thought less of than men it still gives these two men no right to treat the woman as they do by beating them or ordering and controlling them. It just shows how little these men thought of women. This is just one indication that the story is pre 20th Century. Other indications could be the language that is used. In one of the stories it says ‘said he’ this shows it has not been written lately as we now say ‘he said.
Even though the stories are pre 20th Century they are really easy to understand and aren’t as complicated as you would first think. The stories however are set out formally, like they are being read out of an official police document. In fact they are supposed to be journals kept by Watson. I think the fact that they are journals of all different crimes and mysteries Watson and Holmes have solved makes them more formal in the way that he has written them. During the stories I came across some words that we no longer use. For example ‘in his cups’ meaning an alcoholic, ‘porcine’ meaning pig.
Others that I found were: ‘cormorant’ a bird, ‘metropolis’ a city and ‘pauper’ when someone is very very poor. The stories have a mixture of long and short sentences. This creates tension. As the tension is created in the story it makes the reader want to carry on reading. An example of one of the sort sentences in ‘Silver Blaze’ ‘one moment I asked’ this sentence makes the reader wonder what Holmes has just thought about; it keeps the reader wanting to know more. The language through out the three stories does not vary from modern to Victorian it stays formal and Victorian all the way through.
The way that Arthur Conan Doyle describes the attack of the lion is done in such a way that not much detail is given but enough is given to make the reader squirm but still want to carry on reading. In ‘The Speckled Band’ the violent deaths aren’t described as such its more the sound of the victims screams. In the end of the story Holmes describes the death down to the very last detail explain how the murderer went about killing the victim and why. He even describes what sort of snake is used and how dangerous it is this shows that Holmes knows a lot about everything.
The author also builds up tension leading to the unveiling of Mrs Render by telling us how she feels about her face. She feels so unhappy with it that she wants to commit suicide. This starts to make the audience think about how bad it could really be. He also uses the only two who have actually seen her face and describes their reactions. Mrs Merrilows reaction once she saw it was ‘and I wish to god I had not! ‘ also the milkman has once seen her face and Mrs Merrilow says how he was so shocked or scared that he dropped all the milk! This builds up the tension before Mrs Render finally reveals her face to Holmes and Watson.
This was their reaction: ‘It was horrible. No words can describe the framework of a face when the face itself is gone. Two living and beautiful brown eyes looking sadly out from that grisly ruin did but make the view more awful’ Before the end of ‘The Speckled Band’ the author builds up the tension by the use of a red herring. Just as Holmes is about to go into the house and solve the crime the author reminds the readers of the roaming baboon. This leads the audience into thinking that it was the baboon that killed Helen Stoners sister.
This helps to build up the tension before the final climax in Helen Stoners room. The tension in all these stories makes the readers read to the very end with interest. The author tries to use animals to describe the settings of the story. This is more obvious in ‘The Veiled Lodger’ as the author describes Mrs Render ‘from keeping beasts in a cage, the woman, seemed, by some retribution of fate, to have become herself a beast in a cage. ‘ Throughout the stories a lot of animal imagery is used ‘not torn away’ ‘a poor wounded beast’ and ‘it is a terror’ are just some of them.
The three stories are organised mainly in narrative as the setting is described in the narrative. Even though there is mainly narrative there is still abit of dialogue. The stories have a clear really clear beginning. You don’t get confused because it’s not too complex. When you get into the middle it gets abit more complicated but is still really easy to grip as you have already read the beginning so you have an idea of what is going on. It’s a bit more complicated because the narrator is telling us the plot of the crime but also the victim is having flashbacks.
Throughout most of the story Watson is the narrator but at times this can change for example when the victim is describing the plot or what has happened. The role of Watson is really important in these stories as the reader is following in Watson’s footsteps ad they see and think the same as he does. This is how the reader finds out about each crime and what may have caused it. As Holmes is describing the crime to Watson he is actually telling the reader as well. This is really effective as if Watson wasn’t there then the reader wouldn’t know what is happening and why it is happening.
Also in ‘The Speckled Band’ Helen Stoners story and her views are, what I think, gets Holmes on the trail of thinking that it was her Step-Father. As she showed Holmes round the room in which her sister was killed Holmes found some rather unusual things which he turns into clues for the murder. For example the bell pulls. ‘Pointing to a thick bell-rope which hung down beside the tassel’ and a little air vent that was not fastened to an outside wall but was linked to her fathers room. Also the conversation that Holmes has with Watson about the bed being fastened to the floor helps us figure out slowly how Holmes solved the crime.
In ‘The Veiled Lodger’ we gradually find out what has happened by Watson asking Holmes all about the crime and also Holmes asking Mrs Render questions about the night of the murder. After a while it slowly changes to Holmes not asking any questions just Mrs Render telling us herself exactly how things happened. If Holmes didn’t but in sometimes and interrupt her Mrs Render would have given us the whole story herself. Throughout Mrs Render telling us the story she uses a lot of first person narrative except where she is describing the people and their reactions.
The stories are all detective stories but one is unusual for Holmes as he hasn’t been able to solve the crime for along time and still doesn’t manage to as his mind is put to rest by Mrs Render telling him. It is one of a few mysteries that Holmes doesn’t manage to solve and was genuinely puzzled by. A few clues are given to us highlighting the fact that the stories are of a Victorian melodrama. The way the author uses poison and a club as a murder weapon shows that technology is not at its highest standard, also the way he uses a veiled woman and a lion are also clues. There are elements in ‘The Speckled Band’ of a gothic story.
The way it is set in a dark gloomy place and all three crimes happen at night , strange events happening like Mrs Render having repairs done on a room that didn’t need repairing when they are short of money. The use of violence and mystery are involved in the story and the use of the vent could resemble a hidden passage. All throughout the story you find little things that add up to make a gothic story. During the period that these stories were written the general public had a deep resentment against the police as they did not seem to be protecting the public. Also at this very same time the infamous Jack the ripper was loose on the streets.
Once Holmes surfaced straight away the public took a liking to him as he did everything that public hoped the police would do. For example solve all the crimes and always defeat evil. At the same time in the Victorian ere the role of women was very different. Women had very few rights and were thought of as lower class. The men had more authority and control over what happened in everything including divorce. If a woman was divorced she was treated like an outcast and people didn’t want to know her whereas if a male was divorced it wouldn’t matter he would get treated the same.
Holmes feels very sympathetic towards the women but wouldn’t allow Mrs Render to kill herself. His attitude to Dr Roylett was very different as he seems to enjoy winding him up and does so very easy which shows that he doesn’t think much of him. The story which I preferred out of the three was ‘The Speckled Band. ‘ I think I preferred this one because were more clues in the story and the reader was finding out about clues the same time as Holmes which means that the reader can even try and solve the mystery for themselves.
Also the use of the red herring kept me more interested in the story. I think that the way the author wrote very little about the baboon but then brought it up at that moment in the story was a really effective way as it kept the audience on the edge of their seats as they thought that it was the baboon. I think that was a very clever way of keeping the audience interested. ‘from a clump of laurel bushes there darted what seemed to be a hideous distorted child’ The use of these words are really effective and help to really create a picture in the reader’s mind of what the baboon looks like.
I also enjoyed the way the author kept the audience in suspense by building up the tension then using the baboon as a false climax. Even though ‘The Speckled Band’ was my favourite I also liked ‘Silver Blaze’ for some of the same reasons like the little clues left lying around. ‘straker would not undertake this delicate tendon nicking without a little practice’ Once the reader reads this their mind thinks back to where we were wondering why Holmes had asked about the sheep. Both these stories kept me interested, ‘The Veiled Lodger’ wasn’t as good but all three stories were better than what I thought they would be.