Within the six sub-headings to choose from, in the book “STORIES FROM TWO CENTURIES” Which is a small book which is a compilation of short stories, I chose to base my piece of work on the sub-setting “Keeping up appearances”. This has two tales in it, and as the book is titled, they are tales from two different centuries. Two heads of the same coin, “FRONT” (1990) by Jan Mark and “THE MAN WITH THE TWISTED LIP” (1892) by Arthur Conan Doyle. (The famous creator of Inspector Holmes) Both these short stories are on the subject of lies and deception, of masks and pretences…
of Keeping up appearances. Although they are very close to the point of pretence, there is the differentiating fact of self enforced deceit, where the person hadn’t chosen to be in the situation and there is self enforced deception, where it was the persons self decision to lie. In the story “FRONT” there consists of a character called Pat who is force to lie, in order for her to “exercise her right to ask a friend home for tea, like anyone else”. Whereas in the mystery Of “THE MAN WITH THE TWISTED LIP”, Neville St. Clair of whom, this story is about chose his own fate.
He chose to lie and deceive, by choosing to become a professional beggar. This wasn’t a thing to be proud of, and so he kept the secret to himself. His alternative lifestyle was kept very nebulous, and his pretence was very well kept. NSC’s own wife didn’t even have any clue; she was left thinking that NSC was the normal “businessman” leaving for work “each morning” and “returning by the 5. 14 from Cannon-street every night”. He had a brilliant cover as a “red headed”, “scarred faced” beggar and he “determined to preserve” his “disguise as long as possible”.
It was his past experience in “acting and “make-up” which had made him as pitiable as possible and so gained riches. On the other hand, Pat’s attempt hadn’t gone as well as NSC’s. Before the narrator actually visited Pat’s house, she had noticed the Pat was “normal”, “middle” & even “well spoken”. It’s true that you can only go so far with substandard equipment “You can only read as well as the book you read”. One look at the once profound and commendable “Rockingham Crescent”, Pat’s “condemned” home, the secret was out. As I had briefly mentioned before, these two stories are so similar and yet so different.