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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What is the character sketch of Dr. Roylott?

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Dr. Roylott is characterized as a strong, intimidating, and sometimes cruel man. One of the events in Dr. Roylott's life that shows both his strength and his cruelty happened while he lived in Calcutta, India. Dr. Roylott murdered his servant:

"In a fit of anger, however, caused by some robberies which had been perpetrated in the house, he beat his native butler to death and narrowly escaped a capital sentence. As it was, he suffered a long term of imprisonment and afterwards returned to England a morose and disappointed man."

Nonetheless, Dr. Roylott was given only imprisonment, rather than the death penalty, for his crime. Dr. Roylott married Mrs. Stoner, the mother of Helen and Julia, when the two girls were only two years old. However, he is never shown to be a kind and caring stepfather. Instead, he seems very self-focused, especially about his finances.

When Dr. Roylott moves back to his ancestral home with his two step-daughters, the townspeople notice a very dark change in the man's behavior. The story explains that the townspeople were excited, at first, when they heard a Roylott had returned to his family home. However, his violent behavior makes him unwelcome in the community:

"he shut himself up in his house and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels . . . . Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the family, and . . it had . . . been intensified by his long residence in the tropics. A series of disgraceful brawls took place . . . until at last he became the terror of the village, and the folks would fly at his approach, for he is a man of immense strength, and absolutely uncontrollable in his anger."

Dr. Roylott is characterized as a cruel and selfish man, more concerned with his finances than he is with the well-being of his family.

Additionally, Dr. Roylott is shown to have an immense interest in foreign animals, as seen by his choices of pets throughout the story. This interest ends up contributing to his death.

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In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Mr. Sherlock Holmes comes to suspect Dr. Grimesby Roylott of attempting to kill his stepdaughter. The first description of Dr. Roylott we receive comes from Miss Helen Stoner, who says that he is a hard man who must not know his own strength. She had previously mentioned that Dr. Roylott met and married her mother while working in India and now keeps many exotic pets, but left out any details concerning his appearance or personality.

As soon as Miss Stoner has left Mr. Holmes' flat on Baker Street, Dr. Roylott bursts into the apartment in a fit of anger. He is described as a huge man with a large face, lots of wrinkles, a high and thin nose, and yellowish eyes and skin. He wears a top hat, a long coat, and rain boots. He is certainly an angry man, as he threatens Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson that if they investigate Helen's case, they will face his wrath.

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