illustration of Sherlock Holmes in profile looking across a cityscape with a magnifying glass in the distance and a speckled band visible through the glass

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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How does the text "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" by Doyle present masculinity or the idea of manliness in the context of its time?

Doyle presents masculinity as synonymous with power and strength through the characters of Dr. Roylott and Sherlock Holmes. The male characters are presented as strong in contrast to Miss Stoner's weakness and fear. Roylott's temper instills fear in Miss Stoner, and Holmes displays calm and presence of mind in the face of danger.

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When Sherlock Holmes sees that his guest, Miss Helen Stoner, is shivering and she informs him that it is the result of fear, he immediately "bend[s] forward and pat[s] her forearm" and reassures her "soothingly." It seems to be his lot, as a man, to soothe and allay her very womanly terror. Miss Stoner goes on to describe Dr. Grimesby Roylott, her stepfather, as a man with a violent temper, suggesting that it is actually "hereditary" among the men in the Roylott family and that he has taken part in a number of physical fights of late.

In addition to Dr. Roylott's generally foul temper, Holmes also notes that Miss Stoner has a bruise in the shape of a hand print on her arm, and she admits that Dr. Roylott is a "hard man" who may not even be aware of his own strength; however, Holmes realizes that she is "screening" her stepfather and attempting to protect the awful man somewhat. After Miss Stoner leaves, her stepfather himself arrives and begins to threaten Holmes, claiming that he is a "dangerous man" if he is crossed. As proof of his fearsome strength, he grabs a fireplace poker and proceeds to bend it in half, demonstrating his terrible strength. Holmes, of course, is unaffected by the fear that characterizes Miss Stoner, and he proceeds to solve the case of her sister's death. Thus, we see that men are intelligent, manipulative, and either rather cruel (Dr. Roylott) or quite and gentle (Holmes and Watson), while women are victims.

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