Dr. Joseph Bell was one of his professors who was an expert in diagnosing disease using careful observation. Bell showed Doyle how to create deductions about patients by observing them closely. People suspect Bell to be one of the models for Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes first appeared in 1887 in A Study in Scarlet. The Sherlock Holmes stories became very popular and famous. The Stand Magazine published the short stories in 1890 bit by bit, and this made the public want to read them more as the suspense made them buy the magazine again and again so they could find out what happened next.
I will be explaining how Doyle uses tension and suspense in the Sherlock Holmes stories and how this makes the audience continue reading. In addition, I will also be describing the methods that Doyle uses. Furthermore, I will be comparing and contrasting the following stories: Silver Blaze, The Red-Headed League and A Scandal in Bohemia. The introductions of all three stories differ, yet they all pull the reader into the story and make them continue reading. The beginning of Silver Blaze is speech; I am afraid, Watson that I shall have to go, this raises many questions in the readers head such as, why is he going?
where? how long for? and so on. The sudden statement is followed with quick, sharp questions and answers; Go! Where to? and To Dartmoor to Kings Pyland. These are sentences that utter surprise and intrigue the reader to ask even more questions. So the reader feels they must keep on reading. Instead of starting with speech, The Red-Headed League starts with a description of a very stout, florid-faced, elderly gentleman with fiery red hair. This creates an image in the readers mind and they wonder why Holmes is in deep conversation with such a man.
Also, it is rather odd that Watson would mention the colour of the mans hair, perhaps the reader thinks it has something to do with the story and so reads on. A Scandal in Bohemia starts off extremely different to the other two stories. To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. This story does not start with speech such as in Silver Blaze, or with a description like The Red-Headed League. No, this story starts with Watson informing us about something, Holmess feelings and his relationship with this woman.
The reader is intrigued as to why Holmes refers to her as the woman, why the is written in italics and why Watson is mentioning her to us. Also we want to know this womans name, which when the reader reads on finds out is Irene Adler. She is described by Watson as of dubious and questionable memory. We wonder why he illustrates her this way and what the connection is between Holmes and Miss Adler. Watson tells us that in Holmess eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. So we are now asking why this is, what could she have possibly done to make Holmes think this of a woman.
Also, the reader thinks she must have done something as the title of the story indicates a scandal. However, Watson continues to explain and the reader is captivated to read on. All of Doyles stories are structured in a similar way, meaning he begins with a detailed account of the crime that has happened or will happen, and then Holmes and Watson investigate the scene of the crime, and finally right at the end of the story the solution is supplied by Holmes and all becomes clear. This structural technique keeps the reader guessing for the majority of the story, leaving the reader in suspense until all is revealed at the end.
Also, it creates a sense of stability because the readers know that the stories follow a certain order and that all will be revealed. This is excellent since the reader is (typically) given all of the clues and has a chance to play the part of the detective to try and unravel the crime, generally without success, which makes it more exciting, and the reader is kept in suspense for most of the story. Doyle uses language that seems relatively old to us but was normal for him in the 1880s, and this proves to be very effective because the words and general language are strong and varied, with a wide range of vocabulary used.
The language is very formal yet easy to understand, apart from some words that had a different meaning from what they mean now, for example in Silver Blaze Doyle uses the word drag which was a private horse-drawn coach in the time that this story was written, whereas today we use the word drag to describe pulling something. In Silver Blaze Doyle makes Holmes tell Watson about the crime and what he finds peculiar about this case.
Watson listens carefully until he notices something and says Did the stable-boy, when he ran out with the dog, leave the door unlocked behind him? Holmes replies, Excellent, Watson; excellent! This emphasises Watsons use as a plot device. Watson will ask the questions that the reader is thinking and Holmes will answer the questions giving clues along the story and making the reader feel like they are working alongside the detective to solve the crime. In Silver Blaze there is a paragraph on page 18 (Why should he take the horse out of the stable?¦
) where Holmes is asking a lot of questions, this makes the reader understand Holmess intelligence, that he does not overlook the things that we may consider small. In addition, it also makes the reader ask themselves the questions and try to work it out for themselves. Once again they feel like they are working beside the detective. Something that builds tension in the story is how Holmes and Watson are always talking about the case but never about the actual conclusion itself, more like dodging around the issue and never really reaching the conclusion until the end.