Mr. Thipps’s Nerves

In Dorothy L. Sayers’s novel, Whose Body?, Lord Peter Wimsey visits Mr. Thipps, who is still in shock from discovering a dead body in his bathtub earlier that morning. Mr. Thipp’s describes his experience:

‘But it’s been a terrible shock to me, sir—my lord, I should say, but there! my nerves are      to pieces. Such a thing has never ‘appened—happened to me in all my born days. Such a state I was in this morning—I didn’t know if I was on my head or my heels—I reely didn’t, and my heart not being too strong, I hardly knew how to get out of that horrid room and telephone for the police. […] I’ve hardly known what to do with myself’ (5).

The use of dashes to break Mr. Thipps’s dialogue creates a stuttered speech, which effectively shows the distress and anxiety he was mentally experiencing. Mr. Thipps’ nerves and dialogue were fragmented to pieces. Mr. Thipps describes his experience with a rushed pace of speech, implying that he could still be in the same state he was in this morning.


Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009.