What mood does the description of Julia convey in The Adventure of the Speckled Band?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Doyle uses the description of Julia to build a mood of fear and panic. This is best shown in Helen's recollection of Julia's death in which she is described as being "blanched with terror" as she confronted the end of her life. Words like "groping," "swaying," "writhed" and "convulsed" reinforce this idea of panic alongside the image of Julia "shrieking" her final words. More generally, the violent and unexpected nature of her death also adds to the creation of this overall mood.

There is, however, another important aspect to this consider when analysing this mood. By creating a mood of fear and panic, Doyle is also building suspense ahead of the story's unfolding. Thanks to her description, the reader suddenly wants to know more about Julia's demise: what caused her to convulse, why did she mention the "speckled band" and was she alone in her room? By hinting at murder, Doyle cleverly keeps the reader guessing at what is to follow. 

davidross | Student

Description is one of several factors that literature can use to create a mood the reader feels. The description of Julia Stoner conveys a mood of unease. The first part of the description, spoken by her twin sister Helen Stoner, is, "She was but thirty at the time of her death, and yet her hair had already begun to whiten, even as mine has." She is far too young for a natural death or naturally white hair, so she was apparently suffering tremendous stress. The rest of Julia's description is part of Helen recounting the events leading up to Julia's death. Julia is described as, "a light sleeper," who is, "troubled by the smell of the strong Indian cigars." These troubles she suffers from further contribute to an uneasy mood already begun by the knowledge that the description leads up to Julia's untimely death.

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

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