The King’s dark humor is very disturbing indeed in ‘Hop-Frog’. To think that one would get such pleasure from forcing another to harm themselves (when the King forces Hop-Frog to drink) is shocking. Also the wicked and twisted ending to the tale where Hop-Frog gets his revenge is certainly disturbing. It is so disturbing because the author uses the dramatic structure of contrast to heighten the effect of the ending. When we see that Hop-Frog is aiding the King to make a fool out of himself, we feel good for Hop-Frog because we realize that after all the torment he has faced; he is getting his own back.
We are reassured by this, but only to be in utter shock when the author suddenly hits us with a vivid description of Hop-Frog burning the ‘eight ourang-outangs’, and this leaves us totally bewildered and disturbed because we weren’t able to see the ending coming, as it was disguised in a reassuring element just beforehand. Hop-Frog’s appearance clearly disturbs us. He is described as getting along with ‘something between a leap and a wriggle’, having ‘prodigious muscular power… [In] his arms… [Resembling] a monkey’ with ‘large, powerful, and very repulsive teeth’.
As well as this description disturbing us because of Hop-Frog’s unattractiveness, it also disturbs us because Tripetta is treated with so much more dignity only ‘on account of her grace and exquisite beauty’ and is ‘universally admired and petted’. This is another example of the value placed upon beauty in a society of such, which is disturbing, as it means you have to be beautiful to get the most from life. However, this can also reassure us in the case of Tripetta, because she is superficially still a dwarf, yet that seems to be irrelevant to the quality of her beauty in the characters’ eyes.
This is reassuring since society believes that physical deformities make one unattractive, yet this is not reflected in ‘Hop-Frog’. The relationship between Hop-Frog and Tripetta, however, is of a much more reassuring nature. It shows how those who have been mistreated and gone through bad times together have a stronger bonding. For example, due to Tripetta’s beauty ‘she possessed much influence; and never failed to use it, whenever she could, for the benefit of Hop-Frog’. This is reflected by her actions nearer the end of the tale, when she helps Hop-Frog with his ‘stunt’ and then runs away with him.
This reassures us even more because we can see her actual actions, rather than just being told by the author. There are many disturbing and reassuring aspects within the ‘Speckled Band’. One outstanding point is the fact that Dr. Roylott was willing to kill his stepdaughters just for a small sum of money. This is disturbing because it is putting a price on life and saying that the money is worth more than the lives of the two sisters. What is more disturbing about the relationship between Dr. Roylott and his stepdaughters is the way he has such a command over them.
He mistreats them: ‘four fingers and a thumb were printed upon her wrist’, and he has so much control over them that he can manipulate any aspects of their lifestyles in order to get them in a position to be killed (when Dr. Roylott emended the room). Another aspect which is disturbing, is that Dr. Roylott would have gotten away with an unquestioned double murder had Helen not gone to Sherlock for help. This is disturbing because a society like that would not be a society at all, it would almost be anarchy (which relates to the ‘Stolen Bacillus’).
On top of this, even though it isn’t that obvious, the way in which Sherlock Holmes kills Dr. Roylott without fair trial is something of debate. Is Sherlock Holmes being just as worrying as Dr. Roylott when he killed him? Despite these disturbing factors within the storyline, there are a number of reassuring aspects as well. For example, it is reassuring that Helen Stoner can actually find help in the form of Sherlock Holmes when a situation like this arises, and Sherlock Holmes has a genuine will to help which is proven by the fact that he does not receive payment.
Also, it is very reassuring that Sherlock Holmes knew exactly how Dr. Roylott had killed his stepdaughter before he had even entered the room. It is apparent that Sherlock Holmes primarily considered the background information regarding Miss Stoner’s murder and the possible motives. He then deduced the prime suspects and analyzed the evidence in hand in terms of how those suspects may have carried out the murder. In most instances, Sherlock Holmes predictions and hypotheses proved to be correct.
This is reassuring because it shows that the human mind is capable of thinking something through using evidence and logic, and coming to a considerably accurate conclusion at the end. In conclusion, my analysis shows that there are many disturbing and reassuring aspects within the three texts. It also illustrates the way that some of it is not as simple or obvious as one might think. On top of this it has revealed that some aspects may also have two sides to it, making it both disturbing and reassuring at the same time, depending at which point of view you look at it from – rather like in real life.