The characters profiles are not enough to add and create tension alone; there must be a surrounding atmosphere, and a surrounding setting. Victorian novels were typically set in scenes of a gothic nature, the effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, and it’s an extension of Romantic literary pleasures that were relatively new at the time of Doyle’s novel. Melodramatic scenes of terror, took place often, and were frequently thrust into the speckled band, here are some examples.
“The building was of gray stone, with two curving wings, like the claws of a crab… The windows were broken”; this quote describes the house in which the murder has taken place, the building is of a grey colour, and the reference to claws, show’s that whatever is in its clutch is being persecuted, this can be resembles to Helen being a prisoner of the house, this is also supported by the use of the word wings, I believe this could mean that her wings are being restrained, so she cannot fight back, and flee. She is a victim of abuse, and has the consequent possession of locked up rage, this could justify the broken windows, for glass is sharp, and so is anger.
The significance of saying that the windows were broken adds to an image of a dilapidated typical gothic manor house. Another quote to strengthen this image is, “The windows were blocked by old fashioned shutters with broad iron bars”, and this setting again, carries a good sense of imagery. With the use of words such as ‘blocked’ and ‘iron bars’ support the theory that the house is like a prison, and with quotes like this building up the tension, coupled with some close encounters and twists in the tale such as these, “from a clump of bushes there darted what seems to be a hideous and distorted child”. This cruel vision adds suspicion to the on goings in the house, it adds tension, as the supernatural was very popular in the Victorian era, and this could be trying to suggest things of this nature.
This is an example of a red herring. A red herring is a commonly used phrase to suggest something that is trying to lead you onto the wrong path, or avert your suspicion. So how do they add tension, and what examples of them are in The Speckled Band? There are many examples of a red herring in this story; the Gypsies; the phrase ‘Speckled Band’; the metallic sound that could lead to supernatural activity; Wild animals prowling on the loose; Dr. Roylott’s double Bluff and finally the emphasize on locked doors. These could all lead the reader to imagine and create and believe in possible combinations of killers, methods and motives.
These add tension, because then the reader and Dr. Watson alike do not know who to trust. Even as I read it, I placed some suspicion in Holmes capability, for he seems too infatuated with Helen, and this could mean that he placed the blame upon someone else subconsciously in order to save her. With the slow release of information presenting us with a new red herring, may indicate that there sole purpose is to keep tension levels high, in order to maintain ‘edge of your seat’ focus.
The pace and development of the scenes, and new discoveries made by the dynamic duo pay a very important part in the creation of tension in the speckled band, each experience, and use of language infers and exposes a new angle from which the murderer could appear. All in all, uses of sentences such as this one, “Far away we could hear the dark tones of the parish clock.
Which boomed out” certainly add mystery and blur the separation between reality and fiction, for I could imagine, and empathise with someone who was reading this in the dead of night, in inner city London, for it certainly does scare you. Another sentence to enforce this feeling of tension is, “the Gathering darkness”. This also displays a technique called personification, for the author has grouped the darkness, possibly representing what the darkness can hide, and of course only things of an evil nature are associated with the ‘dark’, and the ‘darkness’.
So after studying in depth, the characters, behaviour, context, settings, red herrings, techniques, pace and development, it’s fair to say I’ve looked at all the possible causes for creation of tension. The duo of Sherlock and Holmes only mellow throughout the series, it’s the additional characters and new settings, I feel, that make the largest addition to tension.
The possibilities are endless, and then using such a stereotypical villain and heroine in this book, lots of red herrings are needed to interest the reader, this need is met fully, and conclusion is somewhat surprising as it takes a lot of knowledge, such as the remarkable abilities that Holmes posses in order to fit the pieces in this jig-saw puzzle. My analytical opinion is that this book has achieved so much, due to its open planned story line, and ability to allow the reader to input his/her own ideas, and this of course is what made it such a point for arguments, and discussions on the Victorian era.