Was Sherlock Holmes an Archetypal Victorian Gentleman?

Categories: Holmes

This incredible ability to notice every tiny detail, paired with his deductive reasoning makes Holmes able to detect things that others would not have paid any attention to. Holmes presents himself as a man of technology and science who is not afraid to use new concepts and processes to aid his work. In “The Norwood Builder” Holmes uses an early form of fingerprint analysis to solve the crime. Such techniques were rarely used at the time and this shows that Holmes was ahead of his time and that he is happy to use cutting-edge technology if it aids him in his work.

Another example is in “The Empty House” when Holmes compares two bullets to see if they were fired from the same gun. The use of bullet comparison was also a rather untested and radical method. It shows that Holmes adapted his detective methods based on the latest science and was a “man of the future”. Victorian England was a time of great discovery and expansion, with the British Empire stretched across the world.

Therefore Holmes’ use of new technology and science supports that he is an “Archetypal Victorian Gentleman”. There is only one occasion in the stories where Holmes shows any romantic interest in a woman.

This can be found in a “Scandal in Bohemia” where a woman named Irene Adler is revealed. Though this apparent love is completely unrequited and never becomes anything, Holmes still describes her as “The woman”. Irene Adler appears to be the only woman who ever broke into Holmes’ heart and is an isolated case; Holmes’ general views of women were far from romantic.

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He generally deemed women hysterical and thought of them as having a far less complex intellect.

There are many examples of this, firstly in “Entirely to be trusted” Holmes says: “the motives of women…so inscrutable… How can you build on such quicksand? ” Another example is in the “Fate of an Artist”: “I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind”. These examples show Holmes’ apparent lack of regard for women and his belief that they are “second to men”. However, for the era of Victorian England these views were not uncommon. Women rarely worked in the same jobs as men and were thought of as “Angels of the Hearth”; objects of beauty, less intelligent and hysterical. Another important element of Holmes’ character is his addiction to cocaine.

This is hinted at in many of the stories, but is part of the actual story-line in only two. At the time, little was really known about the effects of cocaine; Holmes refers to it as a “stimulant for the mind”. An example of Holmes’ use of cocaine can be found in “The Sign of Four”, where Holmes says: “It is cocaine…. would you care to try it? ” Although Holmes seems to think that the drug is aiding his brainwork, it appears to in fact filter his vision; leading to what seems to be aspects of depression, when under the influence of the drug.

An example of this is: “Hence the cocaine. What else is there to live for? ” Holmes’ inability to see the effects the drug is having on him shows a flaw in his character. Although he can use his powerful intellect and reasoning skills to analyse those around him, he is not as good at applying these skills to his own situation. This shows that Holmes doesn’t just need Watson as a second opinion; he needs Watson to overlook him and make sure he is staying on the right path. This is evident when you see Watson’s response to this matter.

He disapproves of Holmes’ cocaine addiction from the start, describing it as his “only vice” and then later describing his attempts to slowly wean Holmes off the drug. Finally, Holmes shows signs of xenophobia on many occasions throughout the stories. In those days, the British Empire was extremely powerful; maintaining an often tenuous rule over many non-European lands. The non-Europeans were looked upon as inferior and uncivilised. It is therefore understandable why Holmes would portray such characteristics, seeing as it was pretty much the norm at the time.

An example of this xenophobia is in “The Sussex Vampire” When Holmes investigates a women of Peruvian background who is described as: “… very beautiful, but the fact of her foreign birth always caused a separation” I have reviewed the areas of the Sherlock Holmes Character which I believe are the most important. In answer to the question I have come to the conclusion that on the whole Sherlock Holmes displays many of the qualities which would lead us to title him an archetypal Victorian Gentleman. One of the key qualities I would mention is his interest in technology and science.

The Victorian era was a time of tremendous progress in much of science and technology and Holmes’ key interest in these areas shows that he was a man suited to this age of development. That said, there are few flaws in Holmes’ character, such as his addiction to cocaine which portray him in a different light. Overall I would summarise Sherlock Holmes as a Victorian Gentleman with a maverick streak. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Conan Doyle section.

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Was Sherlock Holmes an Archetypal Victorian Gentleman?. (2017, Oct 23). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/was-sherlock-holmes-an-archetypal-victorian-gentleman-essay

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