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Sherlock Holmes is a name widely known around the world. Known for his amazing ability to solve difficult cases using his sharp observation skills and his logical reasoning, Sherlock Holmes is an inspiration for many people. This invincible detective, alas, is only a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Even so, Sherlock Holmes, with his talent to solve any crime, gives people the impression that justice always prevails and that criminals will always be caught and punished. In “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the sensory imagery, dialogue, and resolution of the story help develop the idea that good always conquers evil.
The sensory imagery in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” supports the fact that Sherlock is very thorough in his observations. During Helen Stoner’s visit, with only a quick glance at her, Sherlock perceives even the slightest detail. “Holmes pushed back the frill of black lace which fringed the hand that lay upon our visitor’s knee. Five little livid spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon the white wrist” (Doyle 147). With that single glance, Sherlock notices the bruises on the lady’s wrist and he comes to the accurate conclusion that she has been cruelly abused by her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott. The bruises implicate Dr. Roylott as the possible perpetrator of the murder of Helen’s twin sister, Julia. In addition, Sherlock’s investigation of Helen’s home shows how he gives careful attention to every detail. “He threw himself down upon his face with his lens in his hand and crawled swiftly backward and forward, examining minutely the cracks between the boards. Then he did the same with the wood-work with which the chamber was paneled. Finally he walked over to the bed and spent some time in staring at it and in running his eye up and down the wall” (151). Through this quote, Sherlock’s fastidiousness is clearly shown. This trait is also depicted when “he [Sherlock] squatted down in front of the wooden chair and examined the seat of it with the greatest attention” (152). Although inspecting floorboards, walls, and chairs is quite unorthodox, Sherlock’s meticulousness is essentially what helps him solve the case.
The dialogue within this short story portrays Sherlock’s confidence in his abilities. “‘When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge. Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of their profession. This man [Dr. Roylott] strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson, that we shall be able to strike deeper still’” (154). From this quote, it is understood that although Dr. Roylott is one of the most cunning criminals there is, Sherlock is confident in his own ability to outsmart the doctor. This is most clearly shown when Sherlock says, “‘He must guard himself, for he may find that there is someone more cunning than himself upon his track’” (150). Furthermore, Sherlock’s confidence is shown through his calm attitude. “‘I should be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket . . . That and a tooth-brush are, I think all that we need’” (149). The way Sherlock casually tells Watson to bring a toothbrush makes it seem like the situation is not dangerous at all and that Sherlock has everything under control. Sherlock’s confidence gives the impression that he can confront any obstacles and defeat any criminal.
The resolution in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” shows how Sherlock finally defeats the antagonist of the story, Dr. Roylott. “The instant that we heard it, Holmes sprang from the bed, struck a match, and lashed furiously with his cane at the bell-pull . . . suddenly there broke from the silence of the night the most horrible cry to which I have ever listened . . . until the last echoes of it had died away into the silence from which it rose” (155). Sherlock, with his quick reaction, forced the snake to go back to where it came from, in which it then bit Dr. Roylott, ending the whole ordeal. The story ends with Sherlock saying, “‘Some of the blows of my cane came home and roused its snakish temper, so that it flew upon the first person it saw. In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr. Grimesby Roylott’s death, and I cannot say that it is likely to weigh very heavily upon my conscience’” (157). From this quote, it is inferred that Sherlock does not regret his actions. The ending of the story seems to communicate the notion that the evil will be punished and that Dr. Roylott deserves his fate.
The sensory imagery, dialogue, and resolution of this story promotes the naive belief that good will always prevail. This is often not the case in reality. There are many cases where the villains are never caught and they get away with their actions. There are many cases where good is conquered by evil. Nevertheless, the stories of Sherlock Holmes and his great feats bring a sense of security to all who read them.
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