Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was a British writer and doctor, famous as the creator of the most celebrated detective in the history of fiction, Sherlock Holmes. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry and non-fiction. Despite the success of Sherlock Holmes adventures, Conan Doyle was never comfortable with the popularity of his hero. While he wanted to devote his time to writing historical romances such as “Micah Clarke” (1889), “The White Company” (1891), and his play “The Story of Waterloo” (1894), the public clamoured for more detective fiction. Between 1908 and 1927 he continued to produce occasional Holmes adventures and another novel “The Valley of Fair” (1915). “The Gloria Scott” is a fine example among the stories about Sherlock Holmes.
Several forms of presentation interrelate in this story: a dialogue, a piece of narration, character-drawing, and a description of surroundings. This is a story within a story with the framing words that let us speak about a close-plot structure of “The Gloria Scott”. The story can be divided into 6 logical parts which are the following: 1) Sherlock Holmes and Watson`s conversation (beginning with “I have some papers here…” and ending “…and turning them over”); 2) Sherlock Holmes tells how he got acquainted with Victor Trevor (beginning with “You never heard me talk of Victor Trevor?” and ending “…was noted for the leniency of his sentences from the bench”); 3) Mr. Holmes`s method (beginning with “One evening…” and ending “…which proved in the sequel to be of importance”);4) Hudson arrived to Mr. Trevor (beginning with “We were sitting out upon the lawn…” and ending “…of embarrassment to my friend”); 5) The death of Mr. Trevor
(beginning with “All this occurred…” and ending “…courage to do it myself”); 6) The papers of Mr. Trevor (beginning with “There are the very papers…” and ending “…the end of the story”).We may also divide the story into 3 parts according to the time line (time-division): 1) Watson tells how he learnt about the first case of Mr. Holmes (this coincides with the 1 point mentioned above); 2) Holmes tells how he got acquainted with Victor Trevor (this coincides with the 2-5 points mentioned above); 3) Mr. Trevor`s story about the events that took place in his younger days, written in the letter (this coincides with the 6 point mentioned above).
The narrator is Watson in the first part. We see the beginning of this story through the eyes of this character. The key-phrases and words of this part are: “extraordinary case of the Gloria Scott”, “slate-grey paper”, “enigmatical message”, “very particular reasons”. They are connected with the mysterious circumstances under which Mr. Trevor died. A number of epithets are used in the words mentioned above: “extraordinary”, “slate-grey”, and “enigmatical” which produce a special effect on the reader and influence on our expectations.
The narrator of the second part is Mr. Holmes, who tells us about his friendship with Mr. Trevor. From this part we learn about Mr. Trevor and his son, Victor Trevor. We see how the method of Mr. Holmes works. The death of Mr. Trevor is under some strange circumstances. At the end of this part we learn that Mr. Trevor left some papers which will throw the light upon this case and it will be clear what has happened to Mr. Trevor. Here are the following epithets in the description of Mr. Trevor`s house “old-fashioned”, “widespread oak-beamed brick building”.
Character-drawing includes such words as “a thick-set, burly man with a shock of grizzled hair, a brown, weather-beaten face and blue eyes which were keen to the verge of fierceness”. This is about Mr. Trevor. Hudson is described in the following way: “a little wizened fellow”. His face was thin and brown and crafty, with a perpetual smile upon it”, “his crinkled hands”, loose-lipped smile”, “sinister smile”.
The part of the story mostly consists of the dialogue. It is interesting to analyse this extract from the point of dialogue. Dialogue speech is a part of a general communicative system which is a language. And it is a part of written texts, where the author expresses his ideas and thoughts. The characters estimate each other or express their own opinions through the dialogue. And to prove this, it is possible to quote some examples from “The Gloria Scott”: 1) “I hope I haven`t frightened you” (this is a thought of Mr. Trevor); 2) “I hope that I have said nothing to pain you?” said I (this is a thought of Mr. Holmes); 3) “Do you know who it was that we let into the house that day” … “It was the devil, Holmes!” he cried (this is the opinion about Hudson); 4) “On the contrary, I think that we have both shown extraordinary patience towards him”, I answered (this is the attitude to Hudson), etc. While reading the dialogue the reader undoubtedly notices the gaps in the colloquial phrases, which are known as elliptical sentences: 1) “Anything else?” He asked smiling (“Is there…” is implied here); 2) “Made all my money at the gold fields” (“I” is implied); 3) “Right again” (“You are…” is implied); 4) “Quite true” (“It is…” is implied), etc.
In the sentences 2, 1, and 4 the subject (pronoun) and the predicate (auxiliary verbs) are omitted. If we look at these sentences apart from the dialogue we will say that they are incomplete; but the connection between colloquial utterances is clear out of the context of the dialogue as a unity. And first of all, the connection is a sense one, though there is asyntactical one as well. Thus the elliptical sentences are made to produce the direct speech of characters and emotional tension to the author`s narrative.
The third part of the story, according to the time division may be entitled “The confession of Mr. Trevor”. In this part we learn how Mr. Trevor was caught into Hudson`s trap. Here we come across the descriptions of the Gloria Scott by means of the epithets: “old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed craft; a five-hundred-ton boat”. The description of Jack Prendergast is as follows: “a young man with a clear, hairless face, a long thin nose, and rather nut-cracker jaws”. Among the stylistic devices in this part we may single out the following: “my tongue sealed forever in death” (in the meaning “to die”), “he would not leave a tongue with power to wag in a witness-box” (in the meaning “he would not leave witnesses”) – this is periphrases. “Prendergast was like a raging devil”, “as true as a stock to a barrel”, “like a fire in a snowstorm” – this is simile. Among the lexical groups of words and word-phrases, there are the following 2 groups: 1) connected with water element: “vessel, boat, ship, captain, crew, deck, sea, waves, coast, voyage”, etc. 2) connected with weapon: armed crew, to fire, pistols, a pound of powder, to give the alarm, to be shot down, to blow up, death, bloody knife”, etc.
And the last but not the least is phonetic device: onomatopoeic words as: whisper, roar, and thunder for example. Therefore, the text under analysis is a fine example of A. C. Doyle`s style: it is exciting and thought-provoking. From the viewpoint of its structure it presents a piece of narration, character-drawing, monologue and dialogue which is the author`s method of characterisation.