Sherlock Holmes Essay
Sherlock Holmes emerged in 1893 as a fictional amateur detective. He had solved many cases and was able to find the villain using scientific evidence. When Sherlock Holmes came out into the open, Britain was a corrupt place as the police force was useless and people used to kill and steal just for the sake of it. “Jack the Ripper” is the best known pseudonym to date from that period. He used to kill women prostitutes from the slums and cut out their throats. He then sent body parts of his victims to the police showing his superiority. People thought of Sherlock Holmes as a hero because they thought he could protect them from paedophiles and murderers even though he was a fictional character.
The mastermind to Sherlock Holmes was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He based the super sleuth character on his fellow doctor, Dr Joseph Bell. He, like Holmes, was able to use the power of deduction to find out his patients occupation. Conan Doyle created this transcendent character because he was frustrated with other detective stories. Therefore he created a super human like detective who used scientific evidence to solve his cases unlike coincidence like the other detective stories. This made Sherlock Holmes a huge success story and when Doyle killed off the character, there was a public up roar and death threats were sent to his house. Because of this, Doyle brought back the character and his side kick Watson back from the shadows.
Doyle managed to keep his audiences interested in Sherlock Holmes by cleverly making a flawless idea. This was to release different stories every month instead of keeping one story and carrying it one month after month. This was a clever and successful philosophy because Conan Doyle knew that if he stuck to one story then people would lose interest because people who missed an issue wouldn’t buy the next one whereas if he made a new story every month then people would still buy the issue every month as they didn’t miss anything. This is why it became known as Sherlock Holmes adventures.
Sherlock Holmes adventures have a very unique structure. This is because it creates a story with in the story. It starts with the victim coming to Holmes about their problem(s). They then explain to him their problem(s). This is where Doyle creates a story within the story. Next, Holmes investigates and then sets out a plan. He eventually catches the villain. Parts of the structure can often vary. This is shown clearly in the story “The man with the twisted lip”. Instead of the victim coming to Holmes, they come to Dr Watson; Holmes’ right hand man. This shows us that Doyle is trying to vary his structure.
Another thing is that the victims mostly always seem to be of high class. This is not present in the Red Headed League as Jabez Wilson (The victim) is of lower class. Although he is of lower class and his case is a bit dubious (this is because he suddenly stopped getting ï¿½4 weekly from his secondary job as it just suddenly disappeared) Holmes was still determined to solve his case. This shows us that Holmes will take on any case no matter who his client is or how silly the problem was. A good quotation to support the matter is “the strangest and the most unique things are very often connected not with the smaller crimes”.
The characters that the stories revolve around vary from story to story. There are only two characters that are present in all the 3 stories that I have read (The Speckled Band, The Red Headed League and The man with the twisted lip). These two characters are the sleuthhound Sherlock Holmes and the wannabe detective Dr Watson. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle uses characters as a good device by showing the reader and audience that he has used the six rules of a good detective story.
* The crime must be significant
* The detective must be memorable
* The criminal must be a worthy opponent
* The clues must be available to the audience
* The suspect must appear early in the story
* The solution must be reasonable and possible
Because of these rules, Holmes appears to be supernatural to the naked eye but if looked at closer you would find that this mind-blowing character has an idiosyncrasy. This is because he smokes on a regular basis and takes drugs etc. The fact that he smokes is shown clearly in the quotation from the Red Headed League “Watson, I beg of you leave me for 1 hour. I believe this is a 3 pipe problem” This emphasises the amount that he smokes. “3 pipe problem” means he will have to smoke three pipes before he will get the answer which implies that it is a very difficult issue. This is because a determined and intellectual person like him doesn’t struggle with much.
The quotation in the paragraph above also shows us the way Holmes treats Watson. Holmes treats him like a child who doesn’t know much. Another quote to back up the matter is “My dear doctor, this is a time for observation, not for talk. We are spies in an enemy’s country”. This is when Holmes replies to Watsons question with an unclear answer. It shows us how disrespectful Holmes can be and that Holmes feels that Watson has a lot to learn.
Watson plays the role of the narrator and hooks the reader. Another role of his is the foil. He makes Sherlock Holmes look better. “You reason it out beautifully. I exclaimed in unfeigned admiration. It is so long a chain, and yet every link rings true.” This extract quoted from Watson, admires Holmes professionalism. It also highlights his deductive skills and scientific methods. Another thing Watson does is draw the mission to a satisfactory conclusion. This is also shown in the quote above.
Watson always goes with Holmes on day and night trips to offer protection since he has a revolver. This shows his bravery as he offers his life and limbs to protect Holmes and himself. He often goes voluntarily even after Holmes has told him his life may be at risk. This reinforces his indomitability.
Villains in Sherlock Holmes stories are always cunning and a good match for Sherlock Holmes. This makes the story more exciting and intoxicating as we don’t know if the villain will get away with his crime. The villains are always of high class which makes them harder to track down or suspect as most people wouldn’t question them. The villains in Holmes stories vary from classic villains or victims who are the villains. One classic villain is Dr Roylott.
He is of high class and and has one of the oldest families in Britain. Another thing is that he is a doctor who has gone sour. This is reflected in the clothes he wears. As he goes to confront Holmes, he wears a black top-hat, a long frock-coat, a pair of high gaiters with a hunting crop swinging in his hands. This shows us that for a high class man, he has no self-esteem and has probably lost his dignity in the process. This definitely makes him a classic villain as he has no alternative but to become a villain to keep what he has left.
All of this has an impact on the reader. It makes the reader second look Dr Roylott as they don’t think he is a criminal at first but then it makes them look back at that decision and reassess the matter before making a conclusion that Dr Roylott is the villain. After this hectic period, the reader is left on the edge of their seats to find out if he gets away or if Sherlock Holmes and his accomplice catch him in the act. It builds so much tension as they are an even match. It makes the reader want to keep reading to find out what happens. Tension starts to build as soon as Dr Royllott walks in through the door. It has an impact on the reader as they want to know who the strange man is and why he came.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle manages to paint a picture perfect image of the characters into our heads. Doyle does this by using short but powerful adjectives to describe every unique and common feature of their body. He gives the detail over 1 or 2 lines to make it short and snappy. Even though he does this, he is able to paint the picture in our heads to the very last detail. “A very stout florid-face elderly gentleman with fiery red hair” This quote backs up the fact that the writer uses 1 or 2 lines of detail and is still able to make you imagine what the character looks like. He uses words like fiery which are short and snappy yet effective. It is ideal to describe Mr Wilson’s hair colour. Florid is a good word as it lets the sentence flow and is still capable of using it to maximum effectiveness by describing Jabez Wilsons face.
Holmes’ determination is probably the most important part of all Sherlock Holmes adventures. It is shown in all the stories I have read and has helped solve all 3 of the cases. This is because he always perseveres through the tough and easy times. The most iconic out of the 3 stories I read was probably “The man with the twisted lip” This is because it took him so long to figure out who the criminal was. Instead of turning his back on the case, he persevered and solved the case. He did this with sheer determination. In the end, the criminal was the victim (Neville St Clair).
Overall, Sherlock Holmes is a magnificent character. This is because many people thought he was a real person. This shows how good Doyle’s writing was. Holmes also gave Victorian people hope as many murders and paedophiles lurked the streets. He even was a role model for the police force as trainee police officers were told to read them to show them how to catch criminals. Sherlock Holmes will be remembered for many centuries to come and his scientific way of thinking has been adopted by police forces. He will always be renowned as the greatest fictional and non-fictional detective the world has ever known. Baker Street also has a house where people post messages to Sherlock Holmes as that is where he is believed to have lived.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 November 2017
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