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The Adventure of the Devil's Foot

"The Adventure of the Devil's Foot" Sherlock Holmes short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
by

Blanca Zhang

on 27 October 2015

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Transcript of The Adventure of the Devil's Foot

"The Adventure of the Devil's Foot"
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Blanca Zhang

Exposition
Rising Action
Climax
Holmes conducts and experiment where he puts the powder he found from the chimney into a lamp. He and Watson sit by the lamp to find out the extent of its effects, but leave the window and door open just in case.
Soon after Holmes turns on the lamp, Watson smells an odor.
The fumes cause Watson to imagine terrifying things that were "monstrous and inconceivably wicked in the universe".
Watson snaps out of his trance for a moment and sees Holmes with the same look of terror on his face. Realizing what was happening, he drags Holmes outside.
Falling Action
Resolution
After Dr. Sterndale finishes, he tells Holmes to do whatever he wants with him because Brenda has died and he doesn't care any more. However, after a while Holmes decides not to report him and lets him finish what he was doing in Africa.
Conflict
Point of View
"The Adventure of the Devil's Foot" is told by Dr. Watson (1st person)
While at Poldhu Bay, a man named Mortimer Tregennis comes to Holmes because his three siblings have died mysteriously.
Afterwards, Holmes is also trying to solve the mystery of how Mortimer Tregennis dies.
Theme
The theme is that evil begets evil. Mortimer Tregennis was evil and killed his sister Brenda, so he in turn was killed.
Mortimer Tregennis and Mr. Roundhay (the vicar) come to Holmes' and Watson's cottage to tell them about the mysterious deaths of Brenda, Owen, and George Tregennis.
The Tregennis siblings all live in Tredannick Wartha (their estate)
Mortimer went for a walk early that morning. When he had been told that something had happened, he rushed back to Tredannick Wartha where he found his sister, Brenda, who was dead, and his two brothers who had gone delirious and were playing cards, laughing, and singing
Mortimer says he saw something in the bushes the night before and thinks it might have been the cause of their deaths
The candles and fire had burned out hours earlier
The doctor proclaimed that Brenda had been dead for at least six hours
He admits that they had some disagreements about the money that was passed down to them previously, but it had been resolved
Holmes and Watson go to Tredannick Wartha to investigate
The Garden was filled with flowers but there were no footprints in the flower beds.
The housekeeper said she had found them in the room and had fainted. Afterward, she threw open a window to let air circulate in the room.
Brenda Tregennis had a terrified look on her face when she died.
There were ashes in the fireplace from the night before. When Holmes inquires about this, Mortimer Tregennis explains that it is very damp and chilly at night

When Holmes and Watson return to their cottage later on, Dr. Leon Sterndale (a famous lion-hunter and explorer) is waiting to talk to them.
He says that the Tregennis family are good friends of his. The vicar informed Sterndale of what happened and he came back right away
He wants to know how the case is coming along
When Holmes tells him that not much has happened, he seems disappointed and leaves
After he goes, Holmes notes that he seems very interested in the mystery and follows him within five minutes

The next day, the vicar comes to tell them that Mortimer Tregennis has died.
Holmes and Watson travel to Tredannick Wartha to investigate
The room in which Tregennis died is very stuffy (even with the window wide open)
A lamp is flaring and smoking at the table
Mortimer Tregennis' face looks terrified just like Brenda's had
His limbs are convulsed and his fingers are contorted
Holmes seems to have found a lead and keeps going back and forth from the lawn, through the window, to Tregennis' bedroom, and back down again
Holmes also closely observes the lamp on the table and takes some of the ashes from the chimney
Over the next two days, Holmes ponders the case.
He explains to Watson that he thinks someone placed a poisonous substance in the lamp and/or fire in both cases
Once they were lit, the fumes were breathed in by the victims, causing them to either go mad or die
Holmes suspects that someone had placed the powder in the lamp and fire the first time. Since it wasn't as strong the first time around, Brenda was the only one that died because she was more sensitive than Owen and George Tregennis
Holmes suspects that Mortimer Tregennis committed the crime the first time around.
Dr. Leon Sterndale arrives at their cottage (upon Holmes's invitation).
Holmes tells Dr. Sterndale that he called him over to discuss the "Cornish Horror" (the mystery of what happened to the Tregennis siblings)
Holmes accuses Dr. Sterndale of killing Mortimer Tregennis
He admits to following Sterndale
Holmes says that the morning after Sterndale first came to see him, Sterndale had gone to Tredannick Wartha with some gravel and the poisonous powder
To get Mortimer to get downstairs, Sterndale threw the gravel at the window.
According to Holmes, Dr. Sterndale had asked Tregennis to come down to talk to him. He then closed the window, put some of the powder in the lamp, and left
Dr. Sterndale confesses to killing Mortimer Tregennis.
He says that he had always loved Brenda Tregennis but couldn't marry her because of certain laws in Africa that prevented him from divorcing his wife
A few weeks earlier, he had shown Mortimer Tregennis some of the items from Africa in his cottage
He recalled that Tregennis seemed very interested in the Radix Pedis Diaboli ("Devil's-Foot Root") when he explained to him how it stimulated the brain in certain areas, causing madness or death. Sternadale had also mentioned that European science could not detect it
When Sterndale heard of what had happened to the Tregennis siblings, he suspected it was Mortimer
He believes Mortimer killed Brenda for her share of the money, and that with his 2 brothers in an asylum, he would be the guardian of their money too
He admits that he woke Tregennis and accused him of using the Devil's-Foot Root powder to kill Brenda. He then lit the lamp and put some of the powder into it.
These conflicts are internal conflicts because Holmes is trying to figure out how the deaths occurred. This conflict is taking place inside his mind.
Setting:
Spring 1897
Near Poldhu Bay on the Cornish Peninsula

Characters:
Sherlock Holmes
Dr. John Watson
Mortimer Tregennis

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