Good vs. Evil, in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”
This essay will examine the concept of “good vs. evil” as appears in the mystery story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1892. Speckled Band is a Sherlock Holmes mystery and one of the twelve stories that Doyle wrote in his “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” series (Wikipedia). Doyle was said to have felt that “Speckled Band” was his best Sherlock Holmes story (Wikipedia).
When I first read “The Speckled Band”, I thought this was a basic “good vs. evil” type story, with Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Dr. Watson, being the good guys and the mad doctor, Grimesby Roylott, being the evil side. It seemed natural that Sherlock Holmes stories would be basically about good and evil, as I have seen a movie or two about Sherlock Holmes and he was always battling some villain that was obviously evil. In this essay, however, I will argue that “The Speckled Band” is not a simple story of good and evil, but a more complex story that focuses on money and greed rather than evil, as its key themes. This story is about the mysterious death of a young woman, whose sister approaches Sherlock Holmes to seek help because she is afraid that whatever happened to her sister may be happening to her as well. The villain in the story is Dr. Grimesby Roylott, the stepfather to two daughters who were left a sizable estate by their mother who died in a railroad accident. Dr. Roylott manages this trust fund until the daughters get married, at which time, the estate is split into thirds with each daughter getting a one-third share when they marry. The main plot is built around the earlier death of one of the sisters, Julia Stoner, and the surviving sister, Helen Stoner, who is planning to be married and now worries about her own safety. As Helen Stoner describes the events around her sister’s death, this mystery looks to be a classic “locked room” type mystery, with a sealed room...
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