Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor share qualities such as higher intelligence, isolation from society, and hyperactivity that shape them into the only ones capable of providing justice for the threatened. The two fit the detective archetype quite well and whether explicit or not, the archetype is prevalent in their stories as well as others. Qualities of the detective archetype are represented through each “detective’s” habits, actions, words, thoughts, and choices. It is complex, interests the reader, and is used by nearly every author of detective fiction.
Holmes and the Doctor express and put forth their higher level of intelligence in everything they do. Their frequent and effective use of deductive reasoning tells them where to go and leads them in their endeavors. Before they can deduce what happened in the situation they are dealing with or find the solution to the problem at hand they must gather the facts.
Both pay attention to detail, Holmes even said, “To a great mind, nothing is little.
” (27) They consider everything – the unordinary to the obvious and the perplexing to the straightforward. Each of the characters has attained a myriad of knowledge which aids them in their reasoning. For the Doctor; he has learned things through experience. He has lived for thousands of years as he is not human and is like an eternal being, in that it can be assumed that he knows just about everything. Holmes’ knowledge, however, comes from experimentation that he conducts in his free time. Curiously, neither was formally educated, yet has a particular interest in sciences.
When investigating a clue Agatha Christie commented, “there you go with the science stuff again!” (Dr. Who) which implies that he has already demonstrated his efficacy of science. With their arsenals of intelligence, Holmes and the Doctor will always prevail.
Members of the detective archetype tend to be isolated from society and Holmes and the Doctor live up to that stereotype. In Homes’ case he chooses to be introverted and would rather spend time alone. Because he has a certain haughty narcissism it makes him believe that he is too good for others. When asked if he enjoys the literary works of Gaboriau and his detective Lecoq, Holmes “sniffs sardonically” and responds in an “angry voice”, claiming the book had made him “positively ill.” (14) The Doctor, on the other hand, would choose to be extroverted yet the circumstances of his life do not allow this. He is the last of his kind and does not fit anywhere; he is forced to live a life with few lasting relationships. Sherlock Holmes has few hobbies and most of them keep him isolated from other people. What he enjoys, other than experiments, is playing the violin while he thinks about current cases he is working on.
Another hobby of his that his assistant Watson intimated is the use of narcotics. Watson suggests “On [some] occasions I have noticed such a dreamy vacant expression in his eyes that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic” (10) Not only is Watson his assistant, but he is the only true friend of Holmes. Likewise, the Doctors’ assistant, Donna, is the only one who remains with him. Theirs assistants are not just there, but they help the detectives solve problems. More importantly, they make Holmes and the Doctor not seem so out of place. Hyperactivity is another characteristic of the detective archetype that both Holmes and the Doctor share.
They constantly jump from one thought to the other. When the Doctor rambles on to himself about the time he spent during Charlemagne’s rule Christie questions, “but that was centuries ago.” The Doctor replies “I have a good memory” (Doctor Who) and moves on to his next thought. As the moment has passed he quickly shifts to the next thought on his mind. Similar to this, Holmes switches subjects rather frequently. In one instance Holmes was able to deduce a man’s background before Watson would even attempt to. To Watson he was merely a “fellow” “walking down the other side of the street.” Without even thinking about it Holmes replies, “You mean that retired sergeant of Marines.”
“The thought had hardly passed through [Watson’s] mind” (14) by the time Holmes had moved on. Higher intelligence, isolation from society, and hyperactivity are qualities that make Holmes and the Doctor fit the detective archetype. Higher intelligence is used by the detectives to deduce information from and interpret the problem. By separating themselves from society the two can meditate on where their focus should be. Hyperactive by nature, these individuals are perfect for their roles. Despite the negative connotations of some of these characteristics, they are able to use them for their benefit to be successful.