The Adventure of the Speckled Band

by

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Dr. Grimesby Roylott Character Analysis

Dr. Grimesby Roylott is the last descendent of the Roylotts of Stoke Moran, one of the oldest and (formerly) wealthiest Saxon families in England. However, previous generations squandered their immense family riches through wasteful lifestyles and gambling habits, leaving Roylott’s father to live “the horrible life of an aristocratic pauper.” Seeing that he had to make his own money, Roylott obtained a medical degree and moved to India, where he set up a large practice and eventually married the widowed mother of the young Stoner twins, Helen and Julia. After his home in Calcutta was robbed, Roylott beat his butler to death in a fit of anger, but somehow wasn’t charged for the crime and returned to his native England in disgrace. He tried to set up a medical practice in London, but when Mrs. Stoner died in a train accident, he moved with his stepdaughters to his ancestral manor in Stoke Moran, living off of inheritance from his deceased wife. While there, Roylott’s fits of anger worsen and much of the surrounding town fears him. He also develops a number of eccentric habits, like smoking Indian cigars, spending weeks at a time with the gypsies who live on his property and collecting an array of exotic animals. One such animal, the deadly swamp adder snake, is what Roylott uses to murder Julia Stoner, in order to prevent her from getting married and thereby obtaining a portion of his slim inheritance.

Dr. Grimesby Roylott Quotes in The Adventure of the Speckled Band

The The Adventure of the Speckled Band quotes below are all either spoken by Dr. Grimesby Roylott or refer to Dr. Grimesby Roylott. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Exoticism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Trade Editions edition of The Adventure of the Speckled Band published in 1986.
The Adventure of the Speckled Band Quotes

The family was at one time among the richest in England, and the estates extended over the borders into Berkshire in the north, and Hampshire in the west. In the last century, however, four successive heirs were of a dissolute and wasteful disposition, and the family ruin was eventually completed by a gambler in the days of the Regency. Nothing was left save a few acres of ground, and the two-hundred-year-old house, which is itself crushed under a heavy mortgage.

Related Characters: Helen Stoner (speaker), Dr. Grimesby Roylott
Related Symbols: Stoke Moran Manor
Page Number: 400
Explanation and Analysis:

Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with our neighbours, who had at first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in his house and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path. Violence of temper approaching to mania has been hereditary in the men of the family, and in my stepfather’s case it had, I believe, been intensified by his long residence in the tropics.

Related Characters: Helen Stoner (speaker), Dr. Grimesby Roylott
Related Symbols: Stoke Moran Manor
Page Number: 401
Explanation and Analysis:

So tall was he that his hat actually brushed the cross bar of the doorway, and his breadth seemed to span it across from side to side. A large face, seared with a thousand wrinkles, burned yellow with the sun, and marked with every evil passion, was turned from one to the other of us, while his deep-set, bile-shot eyes, and his high, thin, fleshless nose, gave him somewhat the resemblance to a fierce old bird of prey.

Related Characters: Dr. Watson (speaker), Dr. Grimesby Roylott
Related Symbols: Stoke Moran Manor
Page Number: 408
Explanation and Analysis:

He must guard himself, for he may find that there is someone more cunning than himself upon his track.

Related Characters: Sherlock Holmes (speaker), Dr. Grimesby Roylott
Page Number: 411
Explanation and Analysis:

When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge.

Related Characters: Sherlock Holmes (speaker), Dr. Grimesby Roylott
Page Number: 417
Explanation and Analysis:

“It is a swamp adder!” cried Holmes; “the deadliest snake in India. He has died within ten seconds of being bitten. Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.”

Related Characters: Sherlock Holmes (speaker), Dr. Grimesby Roylott
Related Symbols: Swamp Adder
Page Number: 421
Explanation and Analysis:
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Dr. Grimesby Roylott Character Timeline in The Adventure of the Speckled Band

The timeline below shows where the character Dr. Grimesby Roylott appears in The Adventure of the Speckled Band. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Adventure of the Speckled Band
Fate and Justice Theme Icon
...untimely death has allowed him to tell the tale. As the cause of Dr. Grimesby Roylott’s death has long been gossiped about, Watson seeks to set the record straight in his... (full context)
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
...incidents that led her to seek Holmes’s help. She lives with her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, the sole remaining descendent of the Roylotts of Stoke Moran, one of the oldest Saxon... (full context)
Exoticism Theme Icon
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Realizing that he needed a career, a young Roylott earned a medical degree and moved to India to set up a medical practice. While... (full context)
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Not long after, Helen’s mother died in a train accident, leaving a sizable inheritance to Roylott, with a stipulation that should Helen or her twin sister Julia get married, they would... (full context)
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Roylott attempted to start a medical practice in London but gave up after some time and... (full context)
Exoticism Theme Icon
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
...who were excited to have someone from the distinguished family living in the manor again, Roylott became reclusive and got furiously angry with anyone who crossed his path. This temper, Helen... (full context)
Exoticism Theme Icon
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Helen tells Holmes and Watson that Roylott has no friends aside from the group of wandering gypsies who have set up a... (full context)
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Two years ago, Helen tells Holmes and Watson, her sister got engaged. Roylott had no objection to the marriage, but Julia died under mysterious circumstances shortly before her... (full context)
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
...the incidents leading up to Julia’s strange death. She describes the layout of the building: Roylott, Julia, and Helen all lived in adjacent bedrooms in the only inhabited portion of the... (full context)
Exoticism Theme Icon
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
One night, disturbed by the smell of Roylott’s Indian cigar smoke in her room, Julia went to Helen’s room to chat about her... (full context)
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
...Holmes and Watson, Helen herself has become engaged. Soon after she made the announcement to Roylott, renovations began on the exterior wall next to her bedroom, so she was made to... (full context)
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Fate and Justice Theme Icon
...notices that Helen has five bruised marks on her wrist, which she says came from Roylott. She brushes this off, suggesting that her stepfather is merely unaware of his strength, but... (full context)
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Fate and Justice Theme Icon
...a large man with a threatening demeanor enters the room. He announces himself as Dr. Roylott, Helen’s stepfather. He tells Holmes and Watson that he’s been tracing Helen’s movements, knows that... (full context)
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Fate and Justice Theme Icon
...and makes some calculations about the state of the inheritance that Mrs. Stoner left to Roylott. Taking into account falling agricultural prices, the remaining funds were rather low and the marriage... (full context)
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
Fate and Justice Theme Icon
...by train and then by dog-cart. They cross paths with Helen and tell her that Roylott had been following her, which causes her some alarm. (full context)
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
...is bolted to the floor and that a ventilator hole goes from that room into Roylott’s bedroom next door. (full context)
Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
...the bell-pull and the ventilator were recently installed, Helen tells them. They then go into Roylott’s room, where Holmes notices a safe with a saucer of milk sitting on top of... (full context)
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...will be confining herself to her room due a headache. Then, when she hears that Roylott has gone to bed, she will undo the shutters, put a lamp in the window... (full context)
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At the inn, the detectives wait for night to fall. From their window, they see Roylott pull up to the manor and yell at the boy driving him, who is unable... (full context)
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Isolation and Powerlessness Theme Icon
...suddenly see a light coming from the ventilator and they smell oil, telling them that Roylott is stirring about next door. Holmes and Watson continue to sit in silence until they... (full context)
Exoticism Theme Icon
Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Fate and Justice Theme Icon
...look of terror. Moments later they hear a long and horribly loud scream come from Roylott’s room. (full context)
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Greed, Desperation, and Decline Theme Icon
Fate and Justice Theme Icon
Once the screams fade down, they investigate Roylott’s room and see the doctor sitting on a chair wearing a long dressing gown and... (full context)
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...the story, Holmes tells Watson that he knows he is at least partly responsible for Roylott’s death, but that the guilt of this evil man dying will not weigh on him... (full context)