Last Updated 08 Jan 2023

The Bravery and Kindness of Sherlock Holmes in The Speckled Band, a Short Story by Arthur Conan Doyle

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In Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, “The Speckled Band,” Sherlock Holmes helps a lady named Helen Stoner investigate the death of her sister, and possibly her own. Her sister died of a reported heart attack though Helen doubts it because she died while saying “The Speckled Band.” The sisters’ uncle, Dr. Roylott has a part of the family fortune given to him by Helen, though half of it will go her husband if she is to marry. Dr. Roylott is a disturbed man who owns animals from India and lets them roam freely in the yard. Throughout this story, Sherlock Holmes proves himself to be brave and kind. Holmes’ bravery shine through from his actions as he solves this case. When Dr. Roylott burst into Holmes’ office after his interview with Helen and introduces himself, he blandly says “‘Indeed, Doctor,’... ‘Pray to take a seat’”. Sherlock Holmes is in no way intimidated or scared by Dr. Roylott even though he is a big man with eyes “marked with every evil passion”. This show of bravery is not Holmes’ last. Later, when Watson and Holmes’ are waiting to enter Helen’s room and stay for the night as part of their investigation, he tells his companion, “there is a distinct element of danger”. He goes on to enter the room and stay for hours in pitch black darkness. Holmes’ bravery allows him to do things for the case that many would not, even when his life may be in danger. For example he is staying in a black room where no one would want to stay even without danger. As Holmes and Watson are approaching the room that night, they see “what seemed to be a hideous and distorted child.

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Holmes was for a moment startled... Then he broke into a low laugh and put his lips to my ear… That is the baboon”. The courage that Holmes has allows him to keep his wits and not fret when he is surprised or scared. The fact that he can keep his cool allows him to connect the dots to understand what he saw like in this case. Holmes’ bravery is necessary to his profession which he demonstrates often Sherlock Holmes is a kind man to his companion and his clients. He is a “late riser”, however when Mrs. Stoner comes early that morning, he happily rises to assist her. His willingness to change his habits for a client, who won’t even pay him, is an example of a kindness he gives throughout the story. When Mrs. Stoner enters his office, she is trembling with terror so he tells her soothingly, “you must not fear”. Even when he has no reason to be kind, he defaults to kindness, when he could be angry that he was awakened from his sleep. Helen was referred to Sherlock Holmes by a friend, so he tells her “I shall be happy to devote the same care to you as I did to your friend”. Sherlock only charges his clients for the expenses he uses during the investigation, so no hourly rate because his “profession is its own reward”. If Sherlock Holmes does not charge even though he helps then he must find his own living elsewhere so he works purely out of kindness for his clients Sherlock's kindness helps him be a great detective because it is his kindness that makes him brave enough to put himself in danger for others. Holmes’ courage and selflessness allow him to be the great detective he is. His bravery allows him to solve crimes such as this one, and his selflessness boosts his bravery even further. Bravery and selflessness don’t just make good detectives though, they make good people willing to help others.

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