The key characters in “The Speckled Band” are shown in a fairly complex fashion. It takes quite a long time in the story for most readers to understand the characters. This could make the story more interesting but I think it makes it unnecessarily complicated. On the other hand in “Silver Blaze” the characters are presented more simply. For example, when John Straker is first mentioned we are immediately informed of the key features of his role “The trainer, John Straker, is a retired jockey” “John Straker, who is a married man, lived in a small villa about two hundred yards from the stables.
He has no children, keeps one maid-servant, and is comfortably off. ” Having straightforward information about the characters makes the relationships and plot much easier to understand. In Victorian novels the culprit is often a suspicious character or someone who appears as evil. In modern stories the culprit can be anyone. In “the Speckled Band” the culprit, Dr Grimsby Roylott, is obviously the villain. Roylott is an archetypal villain. From early on in the story the reader suspects that he is responsible for the murder of Julia Stoner.
Suspicion of Dr Roylott is built up by examining his behaviour and this is instrumental in the creation of mistrust in Roylott. He is aggressive “I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! ” has a short temper and is very strong ” “He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve. ” Roylott uses his strength in an offensive manner against his stepdaughter, “Five little livid spots, the marks of four fingers and a thumb, were printed upon the white wrist.
” Another episode where Roylott displays his abusive nature is when “he hurled the local blacksmith over a parapet into a stream”. All of these attributes add to the way we perceive Dr Roylott. Grimsby Roylott had a history of murder “he beat his native butler to death”. He is a tall man ” a huge man had framed himself in the aperture”, has “bile shot eyes” and “had the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey”. These add up to the appearance of a typical Victorian villain. Living with Julia Stoner meant that Roylott had many opportunities to kill her.
He also had a motive, his greed for money. His late wife had bequeathed him i?? 1000 each year while his stepdaughters lived with him. If they wanted to marry then i?? 250 per annum was to be provided for each of the stepdaughters. If either of Julia or Helen were to marry then it would cripple Dr Roylott financially. If both were to marry then Roylott would be in financial crisis. At all costs Roylott had to prevent them marrying, evidently even if it cost their lives. In “Silver Blaze” there was an aspect of money as a motive but it was not as direct as in “The Speckled Band”.