The Portrayal of Gender, Ethnicity and Class in Two of Arthur Conan Doyle's Stories

The Portrayal of Gender, Ethnicity and Class in Two of Arthur Conan Doyle's Stories
Arthur Conan Doyle was a well known writer during the Victorian Era and still is today. He was famous for his stories. One of his books had a fictional character that caught people?s attention. This character is a spectacular detective, Sherlock Holmes. People loved Sherlock Holmes so much because he always solves the case and always defeat evil. In fact, in one of Arthur?s short story, ?The Speckled Band?, Sherlock Holmes was described as "the Scotland Yard Jack-in-office" and ?the busybody!? This period of time is called the Victorian Era because the ruler during this time was Queen Victoria. There were a lot of crimes committed at this time. Common ones were murder and drug abuse, which were feared greatly by people. The life style of people in the Victorian Era was different to everyday life. In the Victorian Times, there were three different groups of people.
These were the upper class ? rich and powerful people who don?t need to work, middle class - have to work to support but not physical work, and lower/working class ? poor people with no money and works physically. ?The Speckled Band? and ?The Man with the Twisted Lip? are one of Arthur Conan Doyle?s stories. This piece of writing is to show how these two stories give the readers an idea of how people lived and behaved in the Victorian Era and what people expected of certain people because of either their gender, their ethnicity or their class. In Victorian Times, women were treated differently to men. Women within this time were considered to be very emotional. We know this because in ?The Man with the Twisted Lip? when Mrs St Clair saw the blood on a window, she ?fainted at the sight of blood.? The quotation tells us that women were hysterical and they are not strong enough to receive bad news because they?d sometimes break down. Another situation that proves this is when Sherlock was being assured by Mrs St Clair that if he answers her question, he should "not trouble about my feelings. I am not hysterical, nor given to fainting." Also informing the readers that, women knew their weaknesses and their strengths. However, men in the Victorian Times always thought things through. We know this because Sherlock said, "â?? the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner." This let the reader know that men looks at the fact and take time to analyse and observe things and they don?t just jump to conclusions. They thought they could handle situations for themselves and don?t need women?s help at all. The readers detect this when Mrs St Clair ?â??was escorted homeâ??as her presence was no helpâ??? We know that Neville?s wife saw everything and the police knew that she saw her husband but still said she couldn?t help their investigation. Men had everything and they were in control financially. Women couldn?t have control over their money until they were settled with their own husbands. This happened to Helen Stoner, from the story of ?The Speckled Band?. She wanted Sherlock Holmes to investigate something for her but she didn?t have the money on her then however she guaranteed Holmes that "â??in a month or six weeks I shall be married, with control of my incomeâ??" Men had authority over a lot of things. People that were not British were disliked by a lot of the Victorians. They are thought to be a danger in the society and are unwanted. There were different ethnic people in the Victorian Era. These people were not White British. They had different lifestyle to Victorian people. Some of this people were the Malays. Malays was what they called Malaysian people. In the story of ?The Man with the Twisted Lip? the Malays were mentioned just once. This was when Dr Watson, Sherlock Holmes? assistant and loyal friend, entered an opium den, "â??a swallow Malay attendant had hurried up with a pipeâ??" Opium den is like a drug den which was run and supplied by the Malaysians. In the same story, we are made known to a different ethnic individual, ?lascar.? A lascar is an East Indian sailor. Another ethnic group in the Victorian Times were gypsies. They moved around a lot and never stay in one area for a long time. Gypsies were introduced in ?The Speckled Band?. They were not particularly liked by neighbours all around, even by Mrs Stoner, who described them as ?vagabond? and ?wretched.? This shows that they are dangerous. Gypsies moved around a lot and never stay in a place for very long. Steal from people and the act innocent. People believed that others were frightening, violent and a bad influence on the British people. In ?The Speckled Band? learn that Dr Roylott was a very friendly man who socialised well before he went to India but when he returned be became ?ferocious? and quite violent. As said before, there were three different groups of people; upper, working/lower and middle class. I am now going to discuss the portrayal the two stories give about the upper and lower class and how it informs us of people?s expectations and reactions when someone deviate from a group especially upper class groups. ?The Speckled Band? focuses mainly on upper class groups whereas ?The Man with the Twisted Lip? focuses on both upper and lower class people. In ?The Speckled Band? the readers will find that upper class people tend to have pale white skin. We know this when Sherlock Holmes saw the bruises ?â?? printed upon the white wrist.? In the Victorian Era, the paler the women looked, the wealthier they were. A lot of upper class people tend to have good manners. The appearance of a lower class and an upper class is distinctive. Lower class people tend to look dirty and upper class people tended to look the opposite, clean. In ?The Man with the Twisted Lip,? people in lower class were described as ?â??extremely dirtyâ??repulsive ugliness.? The word repulsive brings out the ugliness; it means to be unpleasant, grimy and really filthy. We found that the beggar in the story is actually the missing upper class man, Mr Neville St Clair. When his disguise was removed, there appearance was completely different. There was now a "refined-looking manâ??smooth-skinnedâ??" Anyone who ever did what Mr St Clair did will be so embarrassed and ?ashamed?. As Mr Neville had said, he would have rather ?endured imprisonmentâ??even execution? than to have left his ?miserable secret as a family blot.? Upper class will have done this than to lose their reputation. The word blot describes how Neville was feeling; a family disgraced. Dr Roylott is an example of an upper class man who didn?t act like the way upper class people behave. In the story of ?The Speckled Band? Dr Roylott was a monster in his community. He is violent and has a criminal status. This happened when he was still in India where "he beat his native butler to deathâ??" He has "no friends at all save the wandering gypsiesâ??" An upper class is less likely to get involved with people like them. Pets in the Victorian times are animals like cats and dogs, owned by anyone group of people. However, no one had wild animals as pets except from Dr Roylott, who had ?a cheetah and baboon? and a speckle band which the reader later found to be a dangerous Indian snake. Dr Roylott is very aggressive, short tempered, non-sociable, scruffy and considerably rude and doesn?t act the way a proper upper class individual should be have.

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