Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four both detective novels have interesting characters and spectacular settings and environments. Each of the books has there own properties and some parts are very similar to each other. In The Big Sleep most of the characters are tough or crooked and in some cases both. In the Sign of Four the setting is more formal and the characters.
The Language of these two books is very much different. In Chandler’s ‘The Big Sleep ‘the language is American and involves a lot of slang. It contains many words that are influenced by the time and place. One such example when Marlowe says, “The fag gave you one”, in chapter seventeen. This is different to today and we would not here this term as it is considered politically incorrect. This language seems more realistic to the world today because there is a lot of slang and informal language that we use. An example of this is where the phrase ‘You Son of a Bitch’ is used on page 217. In Conan Doyle’s ‘The Sign of the Four’ the language is English and is very proper, sophisticated and elegant. It uses phrases like ‘tremendous’ and ‘bon vivant’. This is also affected by the setting. It is set in London, England in the upper middle class and Holmes is shown as a very formal character. Therefore the language helps to suggest the setting of the book.Order now
The setting or environment on a detective novel is of crucial importance. The environment in all detective novels is always thought of as being the main contributor towards atmosphere. In these two novels, it is particularly noticeable. In these two books the setting is in two different places, London, England amongst formal society which is described as ‘murky’, ‘eerie’ and ‘ghostlike’, and Los Angeles, USA in the corrupt streets of crime that is described as being very rainy and dull weathered for example ‘hard wet rain’ ‘rain filled the gutters’. They seem however to be alike in many ways. They conform to the form to the pattern of many detective novels. One of the similarities the two books is the weather. Both authors describe the weather as being very dull and constantly raining. This adds to the atmosphere as well because the dull weather almost seems to represents the crime-ridden life in the two different cities.
For example, if the weather was sunny and bright then we would think the book was bound to have a happy plot and theme. When we see the description of rain hitting the pavement and thunder booming, then we immediately think of ill deeds. Another aspect that is similar to weather is the time of day in which action happens. In both books most of the action and the crimes occur and are set at night in the shadows. This is more noticeable in Conan Doyle’s ‘The Sign of Four’ than in ‘The Big Sleep’. Nearly the entire book is set in the slums of London in the dark.
Another likeness between the two atmospheres is the mystery and the twists in the plot. There are many of these. It seems that behind every face and every corner there is a new twist. In ‘The Sign of Four’ every character is shrouded in mystery and the book is a succession of unveilings and twists. For instance when they meet the prize fighter working for Sholto we find out that Holmes used to box and has a reputation for it as well.
In ‘The Big Sleep’ the different murders and the involvement of Carmen and Vivian all add an exciting twist. Similar to mystery and twists is the suspense in novels. In both the suspense is very taught and realistic. The books both draw you into the plot and make you feel as though you are witnessing the happenings and crimes. By vividly describing the setting and happenings and character emotion.