“The Red-Headed League,” like Doyle’s other detective stories, presents a detailed portrait of turn-of-the-century London and gives readers glimpses of a society undergoing rapid change. Among these changes are alterations in the class structure, Britain’s rise as a world economic power, and urban growth-along with a rising crime rate. As he attempts to restore a social order threatened by criminals like those in “The Red-Headed League,” Sherlock Holmes embodies the values of intelligence and individual achievement.

When Jabez Wilson shows Holmes and Watson the newspaper in which he first learned of the Red-Headed League, we learn that the events of the story take place in 1890, only a year before Doyle wrote the story. Few details allow a reader to picture Holmes’ rooms at 221B Baker Street, where he interviews Wilson and where over half the story takes place. However, Doyle gives readers the flavor of late-Victorian London when Holmes and Watson venture outside to examine Wilson’s pawnshop and its surroundings. We catch glimpses of the bustling commercial district, gas-lit evening streets, and the Underground (subway). The most fully developed setting is the bank vault, where increasing detail draws out the story’s climax and increases suspense.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.