Wider Reading English Coursework In this course work, I attempt to discuss how the lead characters are portrayed in the following two detective short stories: 1. The Second Bullet by Anna Katherine Green 2. A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle Both stories are set in the cities. “The Second Bullet” was published in New York in1915, and “A Scandal in Bohemia” was published in London in Victorian England in 1898. In general, detective fiction stories involve a main character who is a detective and he or she is hired to solve a case that involves a crime such as murder, theft, blackmail etc.
Both stories fall under this category and therefore are detective fictions. Let me first go through both stories very briefly. The first story is “The Second Bullet” by Anna Katherine Green. Her detective is Violet Strange. A man named Hammonds and his baby are killed. The police assume the man killed his own baby by strangulation and shot himself. During the investigation the neighbours tell the police they heard two shots. However, the police find only one bullet and that is in the man. The police cannot find the second bullet.
Violet Strange starts her investigation after police leave. She meets with Mrs. Hammonds and listens to her side of the story. Violet learns about the insurance policy her late husband had and if it is proved he was murdered, Mrs. Hammond will become heir to the money. However, if it is proved Mrs. Hammonds committed the murder or Mr. Hammond committed suicide she stands to loose everything. As the mystery of the second bullet unfolds in the final pages of the story, all doubts are cleared and the crime is solved by the detective. This is an excellent short story.
The reader is kept guessing as to what actually happened to the second bullet until the very last page. The second story is “A Scandal in Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His detective is Sherlock Holmes. The King of Bohemia is about to be married to the daughter of Scandinavian King. But he visits Holmes for help. Irene Adler, an actress with whom he had an affair in the past, has a photo of them together and the king fears the damage that could be done with it. The king has had her place burgled but without success and turns to the great detective for help.
With the help of Dr. Watson and a gang of performers, Holmes stages a mini-crisis at Irene’s home and discovers the hiding place of the photo. Irene however manages to turn the tables on the detective. When Holmes returns to Irene house to retrieve the photo, he find a note from Irene that she has figured out Holmes’ little scam and had left the place to avoid further confrontation. She says she had taken the photo for protection only, for she loves a better man than the King. The case is solved and the scandal avoided even if Holmes had not secured the photo in question.
Let us now examine how the lead characters, the detectives, are portrayed in the stories. The most striking difference between the stories is that in “A Scandal in Bohemia”, there is no crime, no murder, yet there is lot of detective action in it. Holmes disguises himself on two occasions, first to get information about Irene from the stable workers and then as a minister to gain access to her house. Once inside the house, he gets Dr. Watson to throw a smoke bomb and causes a false alarm to find out the hiding place of the photo.