50 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2016


      Gelly, Christophe. "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Stories: Crime and Mystery from the Text to the Illustrations.” Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens. Volume 73: Issue No. 1 (2011), 107-129. JSTOR.

      Hodgson, John. “The Recoil of "The Speckled Band": Detective Story and Detective Discourse.” Poetics Today. Volume 12: Issue No. 2 (1992), 309-324. JSTOR.

      Metress, Christopher. “Thinking the Unthinkable: Reopening Conan Doyle's "Cardboard Box." The Midwest Quarterly. Volume 42: Issue No. 2 (2001), 183. JSTOR.

      Pratt-Smith, Stella. “The other serpents: deviance and contagion in "The Speckled Band." Victorian Newsletter. Volume 113 (2008), 54. JSTOR.

    2. The little which I had yet to learn of the case was told me by Sherlock Holmes as we travelled back next day.

      The third and final part of the Holmes formula. Holmes returns back to Baker Street with Watson, where he tells Watson (as well as the reader) how he came to the conclusions he did.

    3. “I had come to these conclusions before ever I had entered his room. An inspection of his chair showed me that he had been in the habit of standing on it, which of course would be necessary in order that he should reach the ventilator. The sight of the safe, the saucer of milk, and the loop of whipcord were enough to finally dispel any doubts which may have remained. The metallic clang heard by Miss Stoner was obviously caused by her stepfather hastily closing the door of his safe upon its terrible occupant. Having once made up my mind, you know the steps which I took in order to put the matter to the proof. I heard the creature hiss as I have no doubt that you did also, and I instantly lit the light and attacked it.”

      This explanation of how Holmes came to his conclusions are fairly flawed. In conjunction with the issues with the snake, Hodgson writes, "The appeal of Sherlock Holmes, after all, comes from his method and his skillful application of it. Holmes is the master reasoner, diagnostician, interpreter: he not only sees (Watson can do as much), he makes sense of what he sees, thanks to his vast store of useful, if often esoteric, knowledge and his highly developed powers of inference. But in "The Speckled Band" Holmes makes nonsense of what he sees; here, to a degree unmatched elsewhere in the canon, his method is not merely shaky, but overtly and devastatingly flawed."

    4. “It is a swamp adder!” cried Holmes; “the deadliest snake in India. He has died within ten seconds of being bitten. Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another. Let us thrust this creature back into its den, and we can then remove Miss Stoner to some place of shelter and let the county police know what has happened.”

      This is one of the plot holes in "The Speckled Band". Hodgson writes in his article, "Snakes don't have ears...can't survive in an airtight safe. There's no such thing as an Indian swamp adder. No snake poison could have killed a huge man like Grimesby Roylott instantly."

    5. Subtle enough and horrible enough. 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 strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson, that we shall be able to strike deeper still.

      Both men were doctors who were convicted of murder by poison. Dr. William Palmer was executed on the 6th of August 1824 in Stafford, Staffordshire. Dr. Edward Pritchard was executed on the 28th of July, 1865 in Glasgow, Scotland.

    6. “It is a nice household,” he murmured. “That is the baboon.” I had forgotten the strange pets which the doctor affected. There was a cheetah, too; perhaps we might find it upon our shoulders at any moment.

      The various exotic pets that the doctor has around the house serve to make the manner feel alien to the rest of the town, bringing the foreign feeling of imperialism from India to Surrey. It makes the grounds seem dangerous and inaccessible, distancing Helen and her father from everyone else.

    7. unrepaired breaches [271] gaped

      According to the OED, breaches means " A disrupted place, gap, or fissure, caused by the separation of continuous parts; a break.' Gaped means "Of material objects, wounds, etc.: To open as a mouth; to split, crack, part asunder." With the manor grounds in such disrepair, it was easy for Holmes and Watson to gain entrance.

    8. “You speak of danger. You have evidently seen more in these rooms than was visible to me.” “No, but I fancy that I may have deduced a little more. I imagine that you saw all that I did.” “I saw nothing remarkable save the bell-rope, and what purpose that could answer I confess is more than I can imagine.” “You saw the ventilator, too?” “Yes, but I do not think that it is such a very unusual thing to have a small opening between two rooms. It was so small that a rat could hardly pass through.”

      This part is showcasing Holmes' remarkable ability of deduction, reasoning, and inference. His assistant Watson, who is also an extremely educated and smart man, did not notice many things that Holmes did during their walkthrough of the manor. This is a hallmark of detection fiction, showing that the main character is highly intelligent, smarter than the normal person.

    9. scruples

      According to the OED, scruples means, "A thought or circumstance that troubles the mind or conscience; a doubt, uncertainty or hesitation in regard to right and wrong, duty, propriety, etc.; esp. one which is regarded as over-refined or over-nice, or which causes a person to hesitate where others would be bolder to act." Sherlock is worried by the amount of danger that may face Watson by joining him in the manor.

    10. “I believe, Mr. Holmes, that you have already made up your mind,” said Miss Stoner, laying her hand upon my companion’s sleeve. “Perhaps I have.” “Then, for pity’s sake, tell me what was the cause of my sister’s death.” “I should prefer to have clearer proofs before I speak.” “You can at least tell me whether my own thought is correct, and if she died from some sudden fright.” “No, I do not think so. I think that there was probably some more tangible cause. And now, Miss Stoner, we must leave you, for if Dr. Roylott returned and saw us our journey would be in vain. Good-bye, and be brave, for if you will do what I have told you you may rest assured that we shall soon drive away the dangers that threaten you.”

      Conan Doyle has peaked the reader's interest at this point in the story. He has laid out all of the clues and they seem to not add up to much. However, Holmes has formed a hypothesis and believes he knows the answers. In Metress' article in the Midwest Quarterly, he writes, "Why does Helen's room contain a vent that connects, not with the outside and fresh air, but with another room? Why does the room have a bell-rope that is unconnected to a bell? Why does the room contain a bed that is bolted to the floor? What can all this mean? Although Sherlock Holmes assures Helen Stoner in the first section of the tale that "There is no mystery," now, in the second section of the tale, there is nothing but mystery. Thus, what is "inconceivable" at the beginning of this and all other tales--"that all united should fail to enlighten"--is not only conceivable but highly probable."

  2. Nov 2016
    1. “It is very essential, Miss Stoner,” said he, “that you should absolutely follow my advice in every respect.” “I shall most certainly do so.” “The matter is too serious for any hesitation. Your life may depend upon your compliance.”

      In Hodgson's article for Poetics Today, he writes, "Holmes is the master reasoner, diagnostician, interpreter: he not only sees (Watson can do as much), he makes sense of what he sees, thanks to his vast store of useful, if often esoteric, knowledge and his highly developed powers of inference." Having studied and examined all of the information gathered from the house, Holmes has come up with a plan to deal with Helen's problem.

    2. dummy

      According to the OED, dummy means, "A counterfeit object made to resemble the real thing, as a sham or empty package, drawer, etc. in a shop, made as though containing goods; a substitute used to mark or occupy a space in an arrangement of articles." The bell to the housekeeper is a fake, which adds to the peculiarity of Helen's case.

    3. Some scaffolding had been erected against the end wall, and the stone-work had been broken into, but there were no signs of any workmen at the moment of our visit.

      Conan Doyle describes a place that is grand, yet in great disrepair. It adds to the sense that Dr. Roylott has hidden himself away and cares little for the outside world. It also adds to the ominous sense of the case, almost looking like a haunted house.

    4. lichen-blotched stone

      According to the OED, lichen means, "One of a class of cellular cryptogamic plants, often of a green, grey, or yellow tint, which grow on the surface of rocks, trees, etc"

    5. “Stoke Moran?” said he. “Yes, sir, that be the house of Dr. Grimesby Roylott,” remarked the driver.

      This is when the story moves into its second of three distinct parts as per the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes formula. In his article, Metress writes "The middle part of the story, which takes place beyond the rooms at Baker Street, introduces a series of details about the mystery, and introduces them in such a way as to increase our fear that our lives are being thrown into disorder."

    6. trap

      According to the OED, a trap is, "A small carriage on springs; usually, a two-wheeled spring carriage, a gig, a spring-cart."

    7. At Waterloo we were fortunate in catching a train for Leatherhead

      Holmes and Watson take a train from Waterloo, London to Leatherhead.

    8. I shall walk down to Doctors’ Commons, where I hope to get some data which may help us in this matter.”

      According to Britannica.com, the Doctors' Commons was a self-governing teaching group of lawyers specializing in civil law located in London.

    9. “He seems a very amiable person,” said Holmes, laughing. “I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own.” As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again.

      Dr. Roylott is trying to intimidate Holmes with his size and strength. However, Homes himself is also quite strong despite his appearance. His intellect, combined with his strength keeps him from being fearful of Helen's father.

    10. crocuses

      According to the OED, a crocus is "A genus of hardy dwarf bulbous plants, family Iridaceæ, natives of southern and central Europe, the Levant, and Western Asia, and commonly cultivated for their brilliant flowers, which are usually deep yellow or purple, and appear before the leaves in early spring, or in some species in autumn. The autumnal species, C. sativus, yields saffron." Homes is sidestepping answering Dr. Roylott's questions about what his daughter is doing at his house by answering with completely different responses.

    11. Calcutta

      Capital of Indian state of West Bengal

    12. A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with every evil passion, was turned from one to the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and his high, thin, fleshless nose, gave him somewhat the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey.

      Years of practicing medicine in the sun and climate of India has caused him to be aged and leathered. His distrust of people around him have given him a gaze that looks hyper-vigilant and aggressive, like an old hawk or eagle.

    13. hunting-crop

      According to the OED, a hunting-crop is, "a straight whipstock with a leather loop for insertion of a thong or lash." His attire, combined with the rash and abrupt entrance he made into Holmes' home suggests he rushed there on a horse in a fit of anger.

    14. gaiters

      According to the OED, gaiters are, "A covering of cloth, leather, etc. for the ankle, or ankle and lower leg."

    15. long frock-coat

      According to the OED, a frock-coat is " An opening, an open space between portions of solid matter; a gap, cleft, chasm, or hole."

    16. The ejaculation had been drawn from my companion by the fact that our door had been suddenly dashed open, and that a huge man had framed himself in the aperture.

      According to the OED, aperture means, " An opening, an open space between portions of solid matter; a gap, cleft, chasm, or hole"

    17. “Miss Roylott, you have not. You are screening your stepfather.” “Why, what do you mean?” For answer 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. “You have been cruelly used,” said Holmes. The lady coloured deeply and covered over her injured wrist. “He is a hard man,” she said, “and perhaps he hardly knows his own strength.”

      According to the OED, cruelly means, "With indifference to or delight in another's suffering" and used can mean, "To have sexual intercourse with. In early use also: †to keep (a concubine)." In Gelly's article, he writes "Holmes has to rescue a woman who is morally and physically abused by her husband (in the latter case) or her stepfather (in the former). The aggression often involves a sexual connotation, as in The Speckled Band for instance, where Dr Roylott of Stoke Moran intends to kill Helen Stoner (his stepdaughter) through secretly introducing a deadly snake in her bedroom, so as to prevent her marriage which would mean the loss of an important part of his income."

    18. Crane Water, near Reading

      Reading is a large town in England, not far from London.

    19. “Were there gypsies in the plantation at the time?” “Yes, there are nearly always some there.” “Ah, and what did you gather from this allusion to a band–a speckled band?” “Sometimes I have thought that it was merely the wild talk of delirium, sometimes that it may have referred to some band of people, perhaps to these very gypsies in the plantation. I do not know whether the spotted handkerchiefs which [263] so many of them wear over their heads might have suggested the strange adjective which she used.”

      The gypsies were another aspect of imperialism and distancing from English society that Dr. Roylott embarked on. They were looked upon by Helen and their neighbors as foreign and dangerous. In Pratt-Smith's article, she writes, " As Edward Rochester's disguise in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847) suggests, being of Eastern European and Asian origin, gypsies symbolized that which was foreign, exotic, and mysterious. The gypsies' tents in the garden enact a reversed and specifically Eastern colonization, a contamination by the multiple, uncontrollable, and transient racial and cultural elements of the British Empire."

    20. ‘Oh, my God! Helen! It was the band! The speckled band!’

      According to the OED, speckled means "Covered, dotted, or marked with (numerous) speckles or specks; variegated or flecked with spots of a different colour from that of the main body; spotted." Band means "A strip of any material flat and thin, used to bind together, clasp, or gird." This cryptic message lends itself to the title of the story as well as giving a significant clue to Holmes about the mystery.

    21. “But a terrible change came over our stepfather about this time. Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with our neighbours, who had at first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in his house and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path. Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the family, and in my stepfather’s case it had, I believe, been intensified by his long residence in the tropics.

      During the time Conan Doyle wrote this story, British Imperialism around the world (specifically in Africa and India) was intensifying. Dr. Roylott seemed to get caught up in the idea of it, becoming domineering and aggressive towards society and his daughter. In a 2008 article in Victorian Newsletter, Stella Pratt-Smith writes, "Roylott's mysteriously erratic behavior means that the family's pastoral Surrey household is far from being an idyllic British home; instead, it is a distorted version of that idyll and one bearing a distinctly colonial character. Dominated by the unpredictable raja-like figure of their stepfather, the estate becomes his personal fiefdom, British-owned yet separated from the British community and its social mores. Helen refers to it as "the plantation," where she and her older sister are isolated from society and only "occasionally allowed to pay short visits" to a maiden aunt (562). Ostensibly, although an English space, it is Orientalized as a place of Purdah, where the domestic ideology is effectively taken to extremes and turned in upon itself. (1) At the same time, rather than the estate's external space providing the domestic sanctuary of a safe English garden, it is a disrupted landscape, peopled by bands of gypsies whom Roylott invites to live there."

    22. “ ‘Because during the last few nights I have always, about three in the morning, heard a low, clear whistle. I am a light sleeper, and it has awakened me. I cannot tell where it came from–perhaps from the next room, perhaps from the lawn. I thought that I would just ask you whether you had heard it.’

      This whistle, explained later int the story is used to have Dr. Roylott's venomous snake enter Julia's room to bite and kill her. However, this is one of the several flaws in reasoning/reality in this Holmes story. Hodgson writes in his article, "Snakes don't have ears, so they cannot hear a low whistle".

    23. “It is not cold which makes me shiver,” said the woman in a low voice, changing her seat as requested. “What, then?” “It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror.” She raised her veil as she spoke, and we could see that she was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all drawn and gray, with restless, frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal.

      This is a typical setup for a Holmes adventure. In his article "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Stories: Crime and Mystery from the Text to the Illustrations", Christophe Gelly writes, "To a modern reader, an important part of the stories seems to rely on a recurring pattern in which Holmes, the representative of British Victorian civilization, is asked to rescue or protect a member of the fair sex who is persecuted, most often by a man. For instance, in The Speckled Band or in the serially published novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes has to rescue a woman who is morally and physically abused by her husband (in the latter case) or her stepfather (in the former)."

    24. The events in [258] question occurred in the early days of my association with Holmes, when we were sharing rooms as bachelors in Baker Street.

      Almost every one of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventures follow a structured and organized plot. According to an article written by Christopher Metress in The Midwest Quarterly in 2001, "Holmes's celebration of reason is not only confirmed by Conan Doyle's tales, but it also gives them their unique configuration. While Conan Doyle occasionally experimented with his design, the essential shape of a Sherlock Holmes story runs as follows. The stories begin in Baker Street...." This is seen when Helen Stoner comes early in the morning to ask Holmes and Watson for their help.

    25. “Farintosh,” said he. “Ah yes, I recall the case; it was concerned with an opal tiara. I think it was before your time, Watson.

      This is a case that was never in any other Sherlock Holmes story.

    26. “There is no mystery, my dear madam,” said he, smiling. “The left arm of your jacket is spattered with mud in no less than seven places. The marks are perfectly fresh. There is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and then only when you sit on the left-hand side of the driver.”

      This sort of deduction and reasoning is what draw many readers to Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries. In an article for Poetics Today, John Hodgson writes that "The appeal of Sherlock Holmes, after all, comes from his method and his skillful application on it. Holmes is the master reasoner, diagnostician, interpreter: he not only sees )Watson can do as much), he makes sense of what he sees, thanks to his vast store of useful, if often esoteric knowledge and his highly developed powers of inference."

    27. Surrey

      Britannica Academic writes that this is an "administrative and historic county of southeastern England. It is situated just southwest of London, adjoining the River Thames. Surrey is bordered to the northwest by Berkshire, to the northeast by the Greater London conurbation, to the east by Kent, to the south by Sussex, and to the west by Hampshire."

    28. Leatherhead

      The Oxford Reference states that Leatherhead is an "old town on the A24 and A245."

    29. dog-cart

      According to the OED, this is "a small cart drawn by a dog or dogs."

  3. Oct 2016
  4. www.poetryfoundation.org www.poetryfoundation.org
    1. The mastiff old did not awake, Yet she an angry moan did make! And what can ail the mastiff bitch?

      According to the OED, a mastiff is "A breed of large, powerful dog with a broad head, drooping ears, and pendulous lips, used as a guard dog and for fighting". The mastiff is pained and making sounds because it can sense danger and that something is not right with the maiden Geraldine. Often in contemporary horror films, dogs can be seen reacting in similar ways when danger, whether supernatural or physical, is near.

    2. By tairn and rill

      According to the OED, tairn means "A small mountain lake, having no significant tributaries." Rill means "A small stream; a brook; a rivulet." Coleridge is setting a scene where the night is quiet and serene, where even nocturnal birds are quiet and still.

    3. But vainly thou warrest,                For this is alone in        Thy power to declare,                That in the dim forest        Thou heard'st a low moaning, And found'st a bright lady, surpassingly fair; And didst bring her home with thee in love and in charity, To shield her and shelter her from the damp air.'

      Having been put under Geraldine's spell, Christabel is told of her mistake in helping a random stranger in the woods. Geraldine is saying that, by keeping to her Catholic customs of charity and love, Christabel has put herself in harms way.

    4. weal

      According to the OED, weal means "Welfare, well-being, happiness, prosperity". Coleridge is choosing to use old language to set a certain tone and believability that "Christabel" is an old text. Christabel is praying for her lover's safety and health while he is away.

    5. betrothèd knight

      According to the OED, betrothed means "Engaged for marriage, affianced". Christabel has been having dreams of her husband-to-be that keep her up and worrying all night, so she goes into the forrest to pray for him nightly.

  5. Sep 2016
    1. Thro’ spicy bower, and palmy grove,

      The OED states that a bower is "a pleasant shady place under trees or climbing plants in a garden or wood." Palmy is "an unbranched evergreen tree of tropical and warm regions, with a crown of very long feathered or fan-shaped leaves, and typically having old leaf scars forming a regular pattern on the trunk." Describing Africa in this way evokes a place of paradise and beauty. The cuckoo and some types of doves are common in Africa, and Smith asks if while the swallow is there, if it hears their unique songs.

    2. 16As fables tell, an Indian Sage, 17The Hindostani woods among, 18Could in his desert hermitage, 19As if ’twere mark’d in written page, 20Translate the wild bird’s song.

      Smith is saying that fables tell of a wise Indian (India) man who lives in Hindu (predominate religion of India) woods who is able to decipher the meaning of the swallow's song. In the next stanza, she expresses her envy in the ease in which he is supposedly able to do this, as if he were reading it from a book. She may have referenced and have been familiar with India because of her husband Benjamin Smith being a West Indian merchant.

    1.     My head hath its coronal,

      According to the OED, a coronal is "a circlet for the head; esp. one of gold or gems, connoting rank or dignity." The speaker is saying that he is taking in the joy and wondrousness that the earth and its creatures are emitting around him, like being crowned or anointed.

    2. The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

      Wordsworth is stating that earlier in his life (childhood), he looked upon everything with a sense of wonder and curiosity. However, now as an adult, he no longer looks at things the same way; he has become complacent and is no longer mystified by common things.

    1. VENUS

      In the Oxford English Dictionary, Venus is the Roman goddess of love. In astronomy, It is the second brightest celestial object after the sun. This brightness is referenced when Barbauld writes that Venus and her light comes and pushes her brother Apollo (the sun) out of the sky in order to bring back Dian (the moon) .