The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes Can be Classified as a Modern Day Hero. Essay
Heroes are made of extraordinary ingredients. The research focuses on heroes. The research further goes more into depth by discussion the different qualities or characteristics of being a hero. The resources are being questioned in term of the hero’s upbringing. Sherlock Holmes can be classified as a modern day hero.
Sherlock Holmes be called a modern hero Simon Williams (5) emphasized a hero is something that brightens another person’s day. The mother is the true hero of the child because he toils 24 hours a day to feed, clothe, and care for the child. The friendly classmate is a hero especially during times when class assignments have to be made.
The classmate can tutor another classmate on the way to solve a seemingly difficult math problem during the initial years of a growing child’s life. A hero is something who stays to comfort a person during one’s unwanted days or situations.
One of such situations is being stuck in the middle of traffic under the blistering heat of the noon sun or in the middle of a hailstorm with one’s girl being literally pummeled by several huge falling ice crystals. Sherlock Holmes has the brave qualities of heroes like Wagner of the Ring movie series. The hero stated in many hero stories have one major characteristic that cannot be commonly found in an average person. The characteristic is the ability to fight back under different scenarios in order not to be crashed by an approaching attack.
A hero during that time included has most of the qualities of other typical heroes have. One such trait occurs when one never gives up on a challenge when others have already called it quits. Likewise, the a hero is a person who can easily maneuver through each obstacle to achieving one’s goal, objective or simply assigned tasks.
Sherlock Holmes – The Red Headed League
In the case of the The red headed league, Sherlock Holmes is the hero of the story. Sherlock Holmes is our modern hero because he stood up against all odds to resolve the issue to how why he was hired for the job. The story shows that a London-based businessman, Jabez Wilson was made to believe that he was hired for a 4 pounds a week salary. Sherlock Holmes used his intuition, to uncover the true mission of the culprits.
The mission of the culprits was to hire Jabez Wilson to work on a day when nobody is in the bank and hiring Jabez Wilson to stay away from home during the entire time the robbers were stealing money from the bank. With Jabez Wilson at home, there was difficulty trying to steal the money because Jabez Wilson will grow suspicious of the robbers.
The robbers are Jabez Wilson’s person assistant Vincent Spaulding and another accomplish. What Sherlock Holmes uncovered was that Vincent Spaulding is not the real name of Jabez Wilson’s assistant. Instead of using his real name, the robber used the false name of Vincent Spaulding in order to disguise his true self to avoid being caught.
Upon discovery of their illegal act, they can for violating established car facilities to ability to read stands. To make the story more thrilling, the author of the book on Sherlock Holmes during a book specifically shows that the Jabez Wilson was falsely made to feel he was important to the hiring agency. In reality, Jabez Wilson was hired in order to vacate the premises to give the robbers enough time and privacy to steal from the bank. The Bank is located near the house of Jabez Wilson.
For example, Atara Stein (8) reiterated another hero, “Byronic hero, is an outlaw and an outsider who defines his own moral code, often defying oppressive institutional authority, and is able to do so because of his superhuman or supernatural powers, his self-sufficiency and independence, and his egotistical sense of his own superiority. He essentially defines and creates himself, like Wordsworth’s ‘unfathered vapour, ‘ that includes the ultimate development of the individual.
The hero is generally a loner who often displays a quick temper or a brooding angst, or both, and he lacks the ability to relate to others”. The historical account of the Byronic hero and his development in today’s current generation has been traced quite ably by Peter Thorslev, Walter Reed, and others. This chapter will pick up where such studies left off. It examines the particular traits of the Byronic hero that have been consciously or unconsciously adopted by contemporary producers of popular texts”.
In addition, Alan Edelstein (4) reiterated “The United States has run out of heroes. “Hero” refers to a national hero, a Universal American around whom we all would rally if called. The hero is the man–rarely the woman, a point to be considered later–who inspires children and adults, who reflects the finest qualities of the American people, and who is recognized by the American people as an inspiration and as someone who reflects those qualities”. It is generally accepted that the hero represents the average American citizen.
The occasion states that the majority of the American people are happy to have him as their representative. There are no places where the modern American hero can crop up. On the other hand, some of the locations where the Americans crafted paintings and other media arts are penciled, their past heroes have given rise had vanished into thin air, and the infrastructure of other fields that had been once sources of American heroes have been altered to the point of obstructing the drawing of new heroes.
In terms of sports heroes, Alan Edelstein (65) proposed “sports heroes In the United States today are only a single business consistently produces heroes, the business of entertainment in its various forms. The hero-entertainment connection is symbiotic. Entertainment produces stars, the current substitute for traditional heroes. The publicity surrounding a star feeds in part on his celebrity, the fact of his being a star, which in turn generates increased publicity”.
The high prices of goods and the star’s economic value, which again feeds the ido;his celebrity, which again feeds his publicity, aids in the continuing now continues until he is replaced by a new star. Thus, throughout his tenure, the star gets wealthier and more celebrated. There appears to be an endless cycle here, although any individual celebrity-hero, including here the sports hero, even the unusually talented sports hero, has a limited lifespan.
One of the appeals of both sports and show business, the two dominant entertainment fields, states those who have successfully tackled many major obstacles and will be successful in these areas. Consequently, the success will be converted into extraordinarily paid higher than normal salaries to excellent exceptionally well paid and afforded opportunities exclusive to members of celebrity circles.
There are several advantages of being able to sing, dance, act, or hit or throw a ball, places some entertainment heroes above the masses, and being above the masses means being above many of society’s rules. Likewise, business contracts can hold the parties at a “renegotiated” price at the ease and comfort of the hero (Edelstein, 2066).
Based on the above discussion, heroes are composed of extraordinary ingredients. Some people are heroes in their own rights or fields of specialization. The hero, especially Sherlock Holmes, has a set of relevant, valid, and useful tools the different qualities or characteristics of being a hero. The resources authenticate the concept that some persons, especially the male counterparts of the American government’s being, are being verified in term of the hero’s upbringing. Indeed, Sherlock Holmes can be classified as a modern day hero.
Atara Stein B. The Byronic Hero in Film, Fiction and Televison. Carbondale: University Press, 2004.
Edelstein, Alan A. Everybody is Sitting on the Curb. Westport: Praeger Press, 1996.
Williams, Simon P. Wagner and the Romantic Hero. New York: Praeger Press, 2655.
Is Sherlock Holmes Realistic? Conan Doyle’s Famous Character Term Paper
Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the character of Sherlock Holmes, was a Scottish writer from Edinburgh, Scotland. He was born on May 22, 1859, in a family of Charles Altamont Doyle and Mary Foley. His father was a chronic alcoholic, and his mother was well educated and a master storyteller. His mother greatly influenced Arthur, and he became a good storyteller too. He followed a career in medicine, whereas one would have expected him to pursue an artistic one due to family influence. He tried his hand in writing short stories. Later on, he started writing novels, and his first novel A Tangled Skein put him in the limelight as an author. His second novel, A Study in Scarlet, did very well. He introduced his audience to a timeless character by the name of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock becomes very famous across the world. Is Sherlock Holmes realistic? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created Sherlock Holmes, meant him to be a realistic character who has remained a very influential fictional detective.
Creation of Sherlock Holmes
A.C.Doyle succeeded in making Sherlock realistic because he did not just create a scientific detective, but he had to make the character very fascinating (Davies ix).
The character was extraordinary in that he captured the reader with his style of solving crimes. Sherlock Holmes is a detective character in Doyle’s work. Sherlock did not become famous instantly until Doyle started publishing The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a fiction magazine called The Strand that the fame of Sherlock Holmes catapulted.
Sherlock’s stories captivated the readers, and their appetite for more stories was insatiable. Doyle enjoyed the money that came with the publishing of the stories, but he was not very happy because the stories overshadowed his series works.
Fascination with Sherlock
Conan Doyle created the character of Sherlock Holmes as very realistic. His influence can be seen in movies, television, books, plays, among others. Sir Arthur managed to create the immortal character of Sherlock by making him a brilliant human being who taps into human aspirations and fears. The character uses his brainpower to come up with solutions to problems and analyze human behavior. He is a character the reader or audience can relate to hence makes him very inspirational.
The character appeared in four novels and fifty-six short stories. Sherlock can see people’s minds; he is a person that everyone would like to be or at least have by their side. He uses his powers and smart brain in a positive way, and many people come to him when they are in trouble.
The character makes things right, and thus he is very captivating. He is both a superman and a normal human being, and the following characteristic makes him realistic. For instance, in The Sign of Four, Sherlock is shown as a character that is very domineering and only concerned with finding solutions to problems. His friend Watson fears to upset him, thus giving him heroic characteristics.
Excellent Skills of Sherlock Holmes
Detective Sherlock is realistic because he solves issues that are ordinary, using his extraordinary skills in deductive reasoning. The author was able to create a realistic character in Sherlock by making him have traits that a normal human being has, for instance, he has flaws such as smoking cocaine in the novel The Sign of Four.
Moreover, the detective acts just as an ordinary human being would act in certain circumstances when he is trying to solve cases.
For instance, he bends the truth and at times, outrightly breaks the law by lying to the police and hiding evidence if he feels it is the right thing to do. More importantly, the author was able to create a realistic character by giving him an unimpeachable morality and excellent deductive skills (Gruesser 143).
Was Sherlock Holmes a Real Person?
The character Sherlock addressed issues that were happening in society, such as justice and life’s general concerns. The readers could identify with such problems. Doyle also mentioned in his novels places from real life, thus making it appear as if Sherlock was real. For these reasons, Sherlock seemed realistic to the readers (Redmond 139).
The author was able to create a realistic character because he provided people with novels that dealt with common issues and kept the reader guessing what was going to happen next. The books are very engaging, and the reader becomes very involved in the book such that some people have been unable to distinguish whether Sherlock Holmes is a real person or a fictional character. They keenly followed the life of Sherlock and his detective works.
To that effect, many studies have been done, and debate goes on whether Sherlock was real or not. Such an instance shows that Doyle created a realistic character in Sherlock such that when he killed him in the story work, The Final Problem, there was a public outcry as people protested the killing of their favorite character.
Some men put on black robes and matched in protest as they mourned the demise of Sherlock. Another case illustrates how realistic Sherlock was as A.C.Doyle talks of older men who would come to him and tell him that they had read about Sherlock Holmes in their childhood.
However, this could not have been possible because the stories had not been written by the time the old men were young boys (Dalrymple 1). Such an incidence could only have happened because the character was very realistic that those who read the stories felt like they had known about Sherlock all their lives. The stories appeal to the people
The hero of the novels Sherlock is a human being who comes to the rescue of the innocent. In many instances, the virtuous have no one to turn to because they lack economic or social means. However, Sherlock comes to the rescue of all and saves them. He does not care about money and often turns down cases of wealthy people to take on examples of people without means as long as they interest him.
He can solve crimes that prove difficult to the police. His ability to solve crimes that the police have failed to resolve makes him realistic to his readers because many times, the police are unable to solve crimes brought to their attention, and the matters remain unresolved.
Thus, if Sherlock can resolve such crimes and bring criminals to book, he becomes very important to the readers, and they believe in him making him a real character that everyone would wish lived in their community to solve problems. Also, he is a man who does ordinary things that his readers would enjoy doing, such as orchestral music. He also goes to the theater when he is not working.
Holmes as a Detective
Detective Holmes solves problems that are committed by ordinary people by unveiling their sources of evil and bringing them to justice. He solves the significant issues in the streets in the novel A Study in Scarlet by reconstructing and creating identity. He is a detective who understands that by living, human beings leave traces.
He uses these traces to solve crimes. He observes the things that are neglected, and by putting together marks, he can come up with clues that enable him to resolve mysterious crimes. More importantly, the detective is not guided by official guidelines, and he is free to work as he deems fit.
Dr. Watson Hall is a friend of Sherlock, and through him, we can learn more about Sherlock. Their relationship satisfies emotionally, and through it, readers see the possibility and beauty of platonic relationships.
The author presents Sherlock as cold and unemotional, and a person only interested in solving crimes. Supposedly a sociopath and a drug addict, Holmes had no wife and family. However, through his friend and sidekick Watson, the human side of Sherlock is revealed.
Sherlock’s Sherlock’s love and loyalty towards his friend Watson was revealed when Sherlock thought his friend had sustained severe bullet wounds as narrated by Watson in The Adventure of the Three Garridebs. Watson says that at that moment, he saw the love and loyalty that Sherlock had for him because he saw his lips shaking, and his eyes dim with concern.
Watson gives us an inside look into Sherlock’s Sherlock’s life and character, and we can learn a great deal about him, such as the kind of words he uses, cigarettes he smokes. Watson tells us that Sherlock was eccentric and did not take a significant concern in tidiness and orderliness.
For example, he kept his cigars in a coal scuttle and had unread correspondence in his room. Moreover, he was a hoarder and kept stacks of documents all over his place. He could also starve himself when working on a case by skipping meals.
The description shows that Sherlock was an ordinary man with a usual backstory. Through his friend, Doyle creates a real character as opposed to a perfect hero who the people cannot relate to by showing us his shortcomings as a human being. Through Watson, one can understand how the deduction is done, and hence one becomes involved in the detective work of Sherlock, making him more so realistic (Harper 70).
The reader is involved in the work of detection through participating in possible solutions to the crimes. Was Sherlock Holmes a real person? Scholars can not identify one person who inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes. Still, this fictional character becomes real to the reader who sees him or herself getting involved in the work of another human being.
Personality of Holmes
Sherlock is realistic because he is a character who does not stop in his quest for answers even when he encounters a dead end. He believes that knowledge must be found to solve a problem through clues and observation. He goes ahead and gathers clues, even without knowing whether they will lead to any outcome.
His desire to keep moving on and the idea of progress makes not only realistic but also appealing to the reader. The reader is encouraged to remain focused until they find a solution to whatever problem they encounter (Harper 70).
Different Detective Story
The detective story by Doyle is different from other detective stories written. The difference is notable in the lack of vulgarity. The author writes a new kind of detective through the character Sherlock and the stories though ingenious can appeal to those who like to read for pleasure as well as those who have an interest in detective work.
The author has written detective stories that can be read by people from different lifestyles, and each will find something appealing about a book such as A Scarlet Study. The story is intellectual and respectable (Harper 70).
The detective Sherlock is a calculating man. He is not like other detectives portrayed in previous detective works. The clues in some of the detectives written earlier on were so obvious that even an ordinary person could see the outcome without much trouble and would not even need to call the police to solve the crime.
Conversely, Sherlock, the detective, keeps the reader guessing because his clues are not straightforward and require deductive reasoning to solve. The deductive element in Sherlock’s Sherlock’s style of detection appeals to the intellect hence appears valid and real.
Humor of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock is a humorous man as when his friend brings it to his attention that the earth goes around the sun in A Study in Scarlet, he tells him that he will now have to forget that fact. He says so because he believes that our brains have a finite capacity for holding the knowledge, and thus by learning meaningless things, they take up space that would have been used to store useful information.
Through his admission that he did not know how the solar system works, we see he is an average person who does not know everything, even though he only seeks to understand things that might help him in his line of work.
He is a man who does not like to show off, and when they find a solution to a crime, he tells Watson that was elementary. Such a man is bound to appear real to people and form an attachment.
The creator of Sherlock was able to create such a realistic character throughout the story. The author created a mental picture in the mind of the reader of the man called Sherlock.
Moreover, the illustrations done for shylock have also helped to create a realistic character of Sherlock. The author describes the gestures that Sherlock makes when he is thinking, and they give Sherlock realistic appearance.
Who Inspired Doyle to Write Sherlock Holmes?
Dr. Joseph Bell inspired Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes. Doyle worked with Dr. Bell at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and it was during this time that the author got the inspiration for his famous character.
He says that Dr. Bell could conclude from observing small things that one would ordinarily ignore and make conclusions from them (Lycett 53-54). Sir Henry Littlejohn also inspired Sir Conan Doyle. Sir Henry taught forensic science, and thus, Doyle wanted to create a character that would use forensic science to solve crimes (Doyle 88).
Sir Henry provided Doyle with a base for combining crime detection and medical investigation, as seen through the detective Sherlock as he unravels murders. Another man who inspired Doyle to to write Sherlock Holmes was Dr. Bryan Charles Waller, his mother’s friend. He had studied at the University of Edinburgh, where Doyle later joined to undertake his studies in medicine.
The studies in medicine gave Doyle an opportunity to meet other authors such as James Stevenson and his teacher Dr. Bell (Brackett 121). The qualities of the people he met and especially those of Dr. Bell, are found in Sherlock (“Sir Arthur Biography” 1; Sherlock 1).
Doyle says that he was educated to be very critical in thought during his medical thoughts under Dr. Bell, who had a special gift in observation. He says that he observed Dr. Bell at work, and he could tell the illnesses that his patients had before they could even tell him anything. He was able to pick their ailments as well as their occupations and residences.
Thus, he developed an interest in reading detective stories, and he was fascinated by how results would be obtained by chance. He decided to write a detective story in which crime would be treated in the same way that Dr. Bell treated diseases using science (Davies viii).
The author was able to create a realistic character because he reflects his qualities. For example, when he dedicated The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Bell, he wrote to him and told him, “You are yourself Sherlock Holmes, and you know it” (The Sherlock Holmes 1).
Dr. Bell has been Doyles lecturer, and colleague must have seen that the author drew from his personal life and experiences in writing about Sherlock. Several writers have pointed out that Doyle may have drawn Holmes from Dr. Bell, but “the real detective was like himself “(Haycraft xvi). Thus, he was able to describe things carefully because he was drawing from real experiences hence made Sherlock seem real.
Furthermore, Sir Arthur, who came from an aristocratic Irish family, identified with the noble history. Doyle had received a good education, and even though he was struggling in his career, “he considered himself to be a gentleman and gave his fictional detective a similar status” (Harper 69).
A family environment influences a person’s life. The biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, especially his childhood experiences, definitely influenced his life and works. The kind of human relationships that one forms with the members of their family make a good source for the author’s materials. Doyle had a strong mother whom he says influenced her greatly. She was very strong, and he derived his happiness when communicating with her through letters.
On the other hand, his father was an alcoholic. He was not a positive figure in his life. The difficulty surrounding his family influenced him in writing stories that people could relate to because they addressed everyday issues and hence made them realistic.
In the novel The Sign of Four, the author addresses the issue of domestic violence. Domestic violence occurs in society even though some instances go unreported. He shows that greed can lead to domestic violence, and Roylott attempts to kill his stepdaughter so that he can continue to have control over her fortune.
He knew that stepdaughters would have control of their fortune once they got married. He is self-centered and materialistic and thus attempts to hold on to the chance. He kills Helen’s Helen’s sister, and when Helen becomes engaged, he tries to kill her, but fortunately, detective Sherlock saves her from the claws of death.
Sherlock sends the snake that Roylott had sent to kill Helen, and it ends up killing him (Haynsworth 469-470). The attention of the readers is captured by search an event because it shows that sometimes violence may recoil back to the violent. The fact that the issues that Sherlock deal with are relatable to the reader makes the character realistic and very appealing.
Doyle was a man who was both gentle and fierce. This nature may explain why Sherlock was at times very kind, especially when he showed concern for his friend and at times, ruthless as long as he uncovered crimes.
He was also tenacious and did not waver from a cause he believed in until he had found a solution. This character trait may have influenced him in writing about Sherlock, a detective who did not give up until he found answers to questions he had in his cases.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a timeless character who has lived through centuries. The evolution of Sherlock Holmes is shown in various artistic works, and though many people may not know about the original Sherlock, they have encountered him in one way or another.
Is Sherlock Holmes realistic? The ability of the author to create a realistic character is proved by its popularity that made science detection very famous, and the styles used by Sherlock are used today in solving crimes.
It is also ironical that the character that Doyle tried to kill at one point has carried his legacy thus far. Sherlock Holmes will always keep the name of the author alive through his appeal to readers and audiences. This story shows that a person’s work can outlive them.
Brackett, Virginia. Beginnings through the 19th century. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2006. Print.
Dalrymple, Theodore. “The eternal detective.” National Criterion, 24. 3 (2005), 4-8.
Davies, David Stuart. Shadows of Sherlock Holmes. London: Wordsworth Editions, 1998. Print.
Doyle, A. Conan (1961). The boys’ Sherlock Holmes, New & Enlarged Edition. New York: Harper & Row. Print.
Gruesser, John Culler. A Century of Detection: Twenty Great Mystery Stories, 1841-1940. North Carolina: McFarland, 2010. Print.
Harper, Lila Marz. “Clues in the street: Sherlock Holmes, Martin Hewitt and Mean Streets.”The Journal of Popular Culture, 42.1 (2009), 67-89.
Haycraft, Howard. The Boys’ Sherlock Holmes: A Selection from the Works of a Conan Doyle. New York: Kessinger Publishing, 2005. Print.
Haynsworth, Leslie. “Sensational adventures: Sherlock Holmes and his generic past.”English Literature in Transition, 44.4 (2001), 459-485.
Lycett, Andrew. The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. New York: Free Press, 2007. Print.
Redmond, Christopher. Sherlock Holmes Handbook. Ed. 2. Dundurn Press Ltd., 2009. Print
Sherlock Holmes. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Encyclopedia Britannica. 2011. Web. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Biography. Web.
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Sherlock Holmes Films Essay
Although we may not typically consider a trailer released months before the film’s debut or a quote from an interview as a part of an actual movie, these do serve significantly to shape how we approach our viewing of the film for the first time as well as how we reflect upon it while viewing, after viewing, or upon revisiting it.
To many diehards of Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch appears to be the definitive figure in this contemporary work. Playing Arthur Conan Doyle, Jeremy Brett complicates the detective in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes up to 1994. On the other hand, most viewers observe that Benedict has honored the great man who defined Holmes for the current generation.
Although Genette discusses the paratext in reference to literary works in particular, the concept can easily be applied to the filmic text. Cumber batch provides a writer’s eloquence in relaying Brett’s impression.
A literary paratext might include a book’s cover, title page, preface, or even reviews about a book, whether quoted upon its jacket or encountered by a potential reader in a magazine. In the analysis of this paper, a film paratext could be a movie trailer, DVD cover, title sequence, reviews from the press, or interviews with the writers, directors, and cast.
Brett Jeremy and the Holmes Audience
Sherlock’s creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, anticipated an international audience of newcomers as well as a homegrown Holmes fan base. This is amid Brett’s public battle with a bipolar disorder that almost ended his career in acting.
The first episode’s title is a variation of A Study in Scarlet, Conan Doyle’s 1887 novel that introduced Sherlock Holmes to readers; it is an appropriate choice for the episode that introduces 21st century Sherlock to television audiences in Britain. Brett’s death in 1995, after a heart failure, was a major blow to other members of the cast.
The murdered “pink” lady reflects not only a color and story connection with the original text but twists the tale into a modern commentary about eye-catching colors for women working in the media and the victim’s need to be perfectly groomed and color coordinated in order to be acceptable for her job and her lovers (Aumont 38).
Even her accessories, such as a mobile phone, are in, as Sherlock refers to them as being of an alarming shade of pink. In every version of this episode, whether broadcast in the U.K. or internationally, in edited or full format, the story begins not with Sherlock but with Jeremy Brett, who becomes the character with whom the audience is expected to identify and thus is an appropriate entry character to get viewers involved with the story.
Brett’s flashback to an Afghani war zone, also appropriate to the original Watson’s war record (another plus for traditional Holmes fans), makes him a sympathetic modern character who might be a returned veteran like someone viewers know in real life.
The news-style flashback modernizes Watson’s pre-Sherlock experiences, as does his visit with his therapist and comments about writing a blog.
His final line before the opening credits, “Nothing ever happens to me,” may be appropriate for the couch potatoes watching this episode; vicariously, their lives, too, are about to change as they enter the world of Sherlock’s adventures (Aumont 29). The opening theme immediately follows this line, overlaying the rush of London traffic and pulling Benedict Cumberbatch, and the viewers, into the story.
They, walking alongside Watson, become pulled into Sherlock’s world, learning a lot about the detective’s “science of deduction” as well as his personal history within the scope of the first episode. This Victorian setting in England brings forth Downey Robert Jr. as Holmes opens up to the 21st Century tales of sensibility (Aumont 34). Beyond the television series, new viewers can also “play Watson” by visiting Sherlock’s website, The Science of Deduction, which appears the same as on television.
Betrayal of Holmes
Appropriating Ritchie’s initial vision for the films, Downey has on multiple occasions promoted the adaptations as potentially homoerotic. During the first film’s production, his suggestion to the press that Holmes and Watson would wrestle and share a bed attracted critics’ and audiences’ attention.
On the other hand, Brett’s appearance in the 41 episodes of Holmes from 1984 to 1994 allows the audience to comment on his betrayal of Holmes. They observed that He would have continued with such line of action had he not died at the young age of 61 (Aumont 42).
Although Ritchie has never declared Holmes as gay-rather, he has elaborated “while these guys are sort of in love with each other,” they are “a hetero-sexual couple that at moments could seem gay” (Aumont 46). Downey’s inferences have dominated, serving as the defining paratext for the films.
Genette’s theory of paratextuality posits seemingly external materials as an inextricable part of a text, with the prefixpara- at Once denoting that which is “separate from or going beyond” while also serving as “analogous or parallel to,” according to the OED (Aumont 48).
Aumont James. L’Analyse des films/Analysis of Film. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988. Print.
BBC’s “Sherlock Holmes”: The Medium is the Message Case Study
It is not easy to interpret or embrace Marshal McLuhan’s assertion that “the medium is the message” (Logan, 2010). It is a struggle to accept this statement at face value. The difficulty lies in the conventional way people interpret the meaning of medium. Crack open a Webster’s dictionary, and one can find that the word “medium” is defined as the messenger’s tool. If one takes away the message, the medium is nothing more than an empty receptacle. If one takes away the message, the medium is like a deaf and mute child.
There is a clear dividing line that separates the medium from the message. McLuhan’s idea of merging two distinct entities seems implausible. It is easier to disprove McLuhan’s claim, especially when viewed from the context of simple communication systems. However, McLuhan’s idea makes sense when viewed from the context of mass media and social media platforms. In simple communication systems, such as written notes and public speaking, it is easy to separate medium from the message. It is not the same conclusion when it comes to mass media and social media platforms.
In mass media communication systems and Internet-based communication platforms, the medium affects the message (Long & Wall, 2014). For example, TV commercials are produced with a 30-second run time in mind. Ads placed in newspapers were created with space constraints in mind.
McLuhan’s perceptive mind understood the interaction between medium and message. Nevertheless, he went further when he declared that the “medium is the message” (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003). He pointed out that a particular medium produces a certain product. For example, a one-paragraph monologue, describing a person’s frustration with the government will generate a certain type of reaction when posted on a school’s bulletin board.
However, it will generate a different type of activity and reaction if the author made arrangements with a local newspaper to publish the same message. Therefore, in the context of mass media and social media platforms, the message is dependent on the medium. The message requires the amplification power of the medium, and this was the intended message of Marshall McLuhan (Logan, 2010).
The Case Study
In this particular case, the medium is the BBC, and the message is the 21st century adaptation of Sir Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. BBC’s history stretches back to the 1920’s and will celebrate its centenary in 2022. A cursory glance at the historical timeline reveals the evolution of the BBC’s tools and format, from radio broadcasting to digital BBC TV channels.
It is impossible to discuss 20th century British history without discussing the impact of the BBC on people’s lives. The BBC was the first broadcasting company to begin a regular TV schedule in 1936 (Porter, 2012). The BBC changed the way people perceive radio broadcasting when reporters made live commentary on location during World War II (Porter,2012).
The BBC went changed the history of television when it broadcast the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. In 1958, BBC launched a children’s TV program called the Blue Peter. It is one of the longest-running shows in TV history. In 1995, BBC’s broadcast of the Princess Diana interview was seen by 15 million people. In other words, the BBC is not an ordinary broadcasting company in the eyes of many people.
Applying the Theory
It is important to highlight the history and accomplishment of the BBC mass media conglomerate in order to see its power to change people’s perspective on a particular subject matter. BBC’s power to transform the message is evident in the 21st century adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. It must be pointed out that millions of people around the world are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes character. People are aware of the basic characteristics of the great detective, and they are familiar with the basic plot of the story. In their minds, Sherlock Holmes is a middle-aged detective and the best sleuth in England. London’s famous Scotland Yard – Metropolitan Police Service turns to Sherlock Holmes if the detectives in its employ are unable to solve a difficult case.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the Sherlock Holmes character (Porter, 2012). Fans of his novels imagine Sherlock Holmes as an elderly gentleman who loves to smoke a pipe (Vanacker & Wynne, 2013). In the 21st century adaptation, BBC’s “Sherlock” is a three-part television series. In the BBC version, Sherlock Holmes is a young detective that uses nicotine patches in order to kick the smoking habit.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays the character, and at first glance, he does not seem to look the part. He does not only look young, but he also looks effeminate. It is difficult to imagine the officers of the world-famous Scotland Yard knocking on the door of Cumberbatch’s apartment because they needed his help. Avid fans of the Sherlock Holmes novels are expected to make known their displeasure.
It can be argued that the irreverent depiction of the fabled detective could translate to a colossal failure. It is, therefore, a risk that no prudent investor should undertake. However, BBC’s “Sherlock” is one of the most popular TV shows in the United Kingdom. Therefore, television viewers embraced the radical characterization of Sherlock Holmes. It can be argued that the TV viewers who subscribed to the said show are consuming a new product, something that is very different from the original.
BBC is technically the medium. However, its history, leverage, influence, and reach enabled it to manipulate the original message of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this example, the medium exerted its power to interfere with the intended message (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003).
On August 8, 2010, BBC broadcast the third episode of the said TV series (Porter, 2012). The name of the episode was “The Great Game,” and in one scene, Holmes ripped off Watson’s clothes in a darkened swimming pool. Watson told Holmes that he was glad no one saw what happened, because he was afraid of what people may say with regards to their relationship. It is interesting to note that the BBC did not attempt to hide the gay references in the said TV series.
The company is able to do this because of how it is perceived in the present time. The BBC is known for its liberal views. Thus, it is allowed to present controversial ideas like the hidden undercurrents in the relationship between Holmes and Watson (Porter, 2012). This is another example of McLuhan’s theory that the medium dictates the outcome or the impact of the message (Logan, 2010).
The running time for “The Great Game” was clocked at 89 minutes. In a show that runs under two hours, Sherlock Homes was required to solve a series of complicated problems. He solved all those problems in quick succession. It was a distorted view of real-life detective work. BBC did not intend to create an unrealistic version of real-life detective work. However, the company created products based on the target audience and the type of product that they want to consume (Long & Wall, 2014). In this regard, they needed to create a show with a fast-paced narrative. They needed a storyline wherein the hero provides a resolution to the conflict at the end of the show. The inadvertent effect was to plant a false idea into the minds of the TV viewers, that criminal cases can be resolved in a few days.
It was difficult to understand McLuhan’s aphorism, that “the medium is the message,” especially if the mind was conditioned to separate these two entities. However, McLuhan was correct when he said that there is no need to dichotomize the medium from the message. Based on the study of “The Great Game,” one can argue that this show is another evidence to support McLuhan’s claim. His claim is true, especially if viewed in the context of modern mass media communication processes.
The BBC is an example of a modern mass media platform, and its manipulation of the original Sherlock Holmes storyline supports the idea that the medium has the power to shape and affect the outcome of the message. The BBC created a new character based on the needs of the 21st century audience. It also altered the way people view the crime-solving process. Thus, McLuhan was correct when he said that the medium affects the form and consequences of the message.
Logan, R. (2010). Understanding new media: Extending Marshall McLuhan. New York: Peter Lang.
Long, P., & Wall, T. (2014). Media studies: Texts, production, context. New York: Routledge.
Porter, L. (2012). Sherlock Holmes for the 21st century: Essays on new adaptation. NC: McFarland & Company.
Vanacker, S., & Wynne, C. (2013). Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle: Multi-media afterlives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wardrip-Fruin, N. (2003). The new media reader. MA: MIT Press.
“The Woman”: How Multiple Texts Failed Irene Adler
Critical responses to Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” an installment in the Sherlock Holmes series, have been dramatically varied. While some hail it as a work of feminist fiction ahead of its time, others condemn it as one of many examples of Doyle’s inability to write a rounded female character. Irene Adler, who makes her first and only appearance in “A Scandal in Bohemia,” is the subject of the controversy, regarded both as an empowered woman and a product of misogyny. The most striking aspect of Irene’s story in retrospect, however, is how thoroughly riddled it is with missed opportunities. The text itself seems to dance around the possibility of a strong female presence before solidly undermining its own potential. One would expect contemporary adaptations to seize this potential and give Irene the depth and autonomy that she was cheated out of in the original, but unfortunately this has not been the case, especially in the televised BBC series Sherlock. The same flaws that plagued “A Scandal in Bohemia” are present in the episode “A Scandal in Belgravia,” and their new iterations may be even more distressing.
In the original text, the same gesture towards progressiveness is the one that illuminates its failure to be an empowering narrative: Sherlock’s constant reference to Irene as “the woman.” Watson explains, “I have seldom heard [Sherlock] mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex” (Doyle). These are among the opening lines of the piece, and thus Irene’s accomplishments are downplayed as soon as she is introduced; she is simultaneously stripped of her individuality and reduced to an exception. Doyle makes it impossible for any of Irene’s strengths to reflect well on all women, as she is presented as a lone outlier. While Doyle may have intended for Sherlock’s awe at Irene to be indicative of her cunning, it instead reflects more on Sherlock’s misogyny. Even as Irene defies gendered assumptions, the whole of her identity is still equated to her womanhood. This prompts a modern-day reader to question: would Irene still have been able to outwit Sherlock if he hadn’t underestimated her intellect from the start? Her dehumanization through the use of the title “the woman” suggests otherwise.
Within this contradiction lies what might be the most glaring missed opportunity in Doyle’s text, which is one for Sherlock’s development as a character. Though the use of a female character as a narrative device to alter the beliefs of a male protagonist is still problematic, Irene could have served to inform Sherlock’s future relations with women and left a lasting, constructive impression on him. Though Watson notes that Sherlock ceases to “make merry over the cleverness of women” (Doyle) following Irene’s appearance, it is clear in subsequent installments that his sexist philosophies are still very much intact. In the story “A Case of Identity,” which follows closely after Irene’s, Sherlock opts not to inform a female client that she is being conned by her own stepfather, quoting a woefully misogynistic adage: “There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman” (Doyle). Irene has not, as Watson suggests, enlightened the detective as to the intellect of women.
Despite this lack of continuity, Irene’s exceptionality still could have resurfaced in the series as a means of creating tension and conflict. As the only character who canonically bested Sherlock, she easily could have been his final opponent, eschewing the need for the hastily-introduced Moriarty. She only makes one appearance in the original text, however, and Sherlock’s assumption that her contentment with her new beau would prevent her from engaging in further mischief proves to be correct. Irene is not arrested or killed like many of Sherlock’s other antagonists, leaving her available for an additional storyline, but this opportunity is missed as well.
Works of adaptation, whether across mediums or within the medium of the original text, can offer fertile revisionary spaces for problems like the ones in “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Often, adaptations are used as a means of salvaging a text that is rapidly becoming outdated, selecting the successful elements and omitting those that may be dragging the text down and preventing it from surviving in the evolving media. These kinds of adaptations provide an opportunity for remediation; creative authority can be used to update antiquated texts, rewriting moments that may have been informed by racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, or other such limitations. Because Arthur Conan Doyle’s female characters adhere to a consistent pattern of victimhood and fixation on the men around them, it naturally follows that many modern adaptations would seek to shed more light on these characters (or even in the case of the American TV show Elementary, to explore the possibility of a female main character in place of the previous male one) and access their untapped potential. BBC’s Sherlock flirts with this sort of remediation, but ultimately fails Irene just as Doyle did.
In “The Naked Truth: The Postfeminist Afterlives of Irene Adler,” Antonija Primorac addresses the many misfires of Irene’s adapted reincarnations. Primorac focuses in particular on a scene in the BBC episode in which Irene appears naked in order to disarm Sherlock and prevent him from analyzing her. This, like her gendered title, is a gesture towards empowerment that proves to be greatly counterproductive. Her status as a femme fatale seems to be her identifying strength, and even this trait does not carry her to her final objective in the episode, as Primorac notes:
“The ‘updating’ of Adler as a dominatrix and a sexual woman gives her only the temporary power of the female body as fetish and a very ‘Victorian’ narrative destiny. As soon as she ‘over-reaches’ her limits of agency as a sexualised body, Adler promptly falls/fails, is humiliated and punished.” (103)
Her sexualization thus functions as a form of pseudo-feminism, and this eventually is not enough, as she must seek out Moriarty’s assistance. Surprisingly enough, this modern remediation does not even allow Irene the triumph that she enjoyed in the original text, as Sherlock breaks her code and foils her plan by the end of the episode. This is just one of many failures of the BBC adaptation to update and empower Irene. Whereas Watson dismisses any romantic connotations regarding Sherlock and Irene in the original, the BBC Irene’s attraction to Sherlock betrays her and leads to her defeat.
Irene is not even given the dignity of disappearance in the episode, as it ends with a scene in which she is – as Primorac puts it – “reduced to the most oppressed image of the female body in Western media: that of the hijab-wearing (Muslim) woman, waiting either to die or to be rescued by a male hand” (103). This alteration also results in the omission of one of the most culturally interesting moments in the original, which is the scene in which a crossdressing Irene bids goodnight to the oblivious Sherlock. Primorac notes that this is a refreshing demonstration of autonomy on Irene’s part (however unintentional it may have been), as she is able to manipulate her appearance and defy gender performance norms to her own advantage. This blurring of the gender binary would have been a prime opportunity for expansion and remediation in a 21st century visual adaptation like Sherlock, but instead it is bypassed entirely in favor of a sexualized, stereotypically feminized character whose primary weapon is her naked body rather than her wit.
Primorac theorizes that the inability of many adaptations to effectively remediate Arthur Conan Doyle’s work is not a coincidental one. Its status as a Victorian series, she argues, makes it highly susceptible to oversexualized re-imaginings as contemporary authors resist the conspicuous sexlessness of its original canon. The focus on Sherlock’s virginity in the BBC series and the envisioning of a dominatrix Irene conveys this need for neo-Victorian media to fill in the perceived gaps, and often – particularly in the case of “A Scandal in Belgravia” – to overcompensate to a fault. Female characters suffer the consequences of this practice almost exclusively; the traits that should be fleshed out in contemporary works end up shouldered aside to make room for the sexualization that, rather than liberating these characters from social convention as intended, instead simplifies and objectifies them. Their center-stage male counterparts retain the screen or page time necessary to make them somewhat rounded, while the women lose their most memorable characteristics.
One can hope that future adaptations will give Irene Adler the attention and agency that she deserves, but as Primorac points out, this is difficult to achieve without a critical awareness of the strained relationship between neo-Victorian and Victorian media. Female characters like Irene are most at risk in the production of these adaptations, and unfortunately this is telling of contemporary gender biases. Ideally a remediation would devote time to developing Irene’s defiance of gender divides as a crucial part of her character, regardless of the chronological setting of the work. She would derive her independence from this fluidity and from her formidable intelligence, which would make her arc more satisfying and less problematic. A successful re-imagining would free her, with finality, from the bonds of the title “the woman.”
Works CitedDoyle, Arthur Conan. “A Case of Identity.” London: n.p., 1891. N. pag. Print.Doyle, Arthur Conan. “A Scandal in Bohemia.” London: n.p., 1891. N. pag. Print.McGuigan, Paul (dir.). 2012. “A Scandal in Belgravia.” Screenplay by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Sherlock, BBC.Primorac, Antonija. “The Naked Truth: The Postfeminist Afterlives of Irene Adler.” Neo- Victorian Studies 6.2 (2013): n. pag. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Sherlock Holmes’ Mentorship of Christopher Boone
Living in a world surrounded by people who function in a disparate way could cause one to feel neglected, but finding another person, fiction or non-fiction that shares similar characteristics can help one feel valuable. In Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Christopher Boone, a seemingly autistic child, is caught in the middle of both an alcoholic father and a mother disjointed from the family. One way he finds inspiration and motivation throughout the novel is through Sherlock Holmes. Christopher relies on fictional character Sherlock Holmes as a mentor due to the lack of congruence he has with the people around him. Christopher finds similarities in thinking patterns, personality traits, and social skills that help him to relate to Sherlock. Christopher uses Holmes as his incentive to both solve the death of Wellington and travel to London to find his mother.
Throughout the novel, Haddon incorporates special insights into Christopher’s brain that help the to reader understand the way Christopher thinks. By doing this, the reader can see a clear difference between Boone and his father. The way he processes events and approaches situations is different than the average person. When Christopher finds Wellington he “decide[s] to do some detective work” to figure out what happened (30). Similar to Sherlock Holmes who, when on a case, looks to find all the detail needed to solve his mystery. Holmes and Christopher both use the unique qualities within their brain, which result in them both approaching situations from a different, but similar angle.
Christopher states that his “memory is like a film” and that he can “simply press Rewind and Fast Forward and Pause like on a video recorder” when he wants to remember something (76). He then mentions how if he doesn’t know something he will search his mind to see if he has seen or heard it before. An interesting point in regards to Christopher’s brain is that the average brain works similar to this film analogy but Boone has figured out an organized way of understanding it. He does not understand the use of metaphors or the idea behind telling a lie. He says he “[does] not tell lies… [he] can’t tell lies” and this is because it is hard for him to comprehend the idea of only one thing that didn’t happen (19). He says that if he “think[s] about something which didn’t happen [he] start[s] thinking about all the other things which didn’t happen” and this ends up confusing him, this contrasting how his father views the use of lying (19). Christopher’s father uses lying to mask a situation that is hard for Christopher to understand, whether it be the absence of his mother or the death of Wellington. Christopher’s father admits to Christopher that “maybe [he] [doesn’t] tell the truth all the time” but relies on the use of lying to help communicate with his son (121).
Sherlock Holmes, similar to Christopher’s film analogy, has a famous quote where he compares the human brain to an attic. He states that “a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and [one has] to stock it with such furniture as [they] choose” (A Quote from A Study in Scarlet). He then says that “the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic” to which he is referring to himself and other intelligent people (A Quote from A Study in Scarlet). Sherlock is said to have an “uncanny ability to gather evidence based upon his honed skills of observation and deductive reasoning” that helps him come to a conclusion (Willson). During the novel, Christopher references a point where Watson states that “the world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes” to where Boone states that Sherlock “notices them, like [he] does” (73). Here being one point where Christopher shows his admiration for someone, though fictional, who sees the world in a similar way to him. Another instance is when Christopher explains his correlation to Sherlock and how he “doesn’t believe in the supernatural” where as, he then explains his hatred toward Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Holmes) and his belief in supernatural beings (74). Showing how Christopher seems to relate to a fictional character more than a real human. Holmes doesn’t use lying and is able to pick up the fine details that Christopher can relate too unlike Boone’s father who does not see the world in the same way.
Christopher and Sherlock share a similar narcissistic personality that is caused by their belief that they are smarter than those around them. Christopher is aware of his intelligence and knows that though he goes to a special school, he is not any less bright than the other students. In comparison, Sherlock Holmes is a very conceited person and chooses to display his intelligence to everyone he encounters. Christopher, like Sherlock, knows the people around him are not as intellectually apt as he is; so with the help of Sherlock, he is able to express his intelligence and is able to see what he is capable of succeeding.
Christopher starts his story stating, “[his] name is Christopher John Francis Boone. [He] know[s] all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number to 7057” (2). This quote shows all of the random information Christopher knows, but also helps the reader get an insight on his character. He states that he is going to “prove that [he is] not stupid” and to do that he expresses the knowledge he has (44). He wants to prove to the people who bully him for his differences, that he can do anything he puts his mind to. He is very confident in the way he talks about his intelligence. He explains his desire to be an astronaut and how he would make a good astronaut because “to be a good astronaut you have to be intelligent and [he is] intelligent” (50). His father acknowledges that Christopher’s personality is different but is shy of understanding him. For example when Christopher wants to investigate the death of Wellington, he says Christopher should “just try and keep [his] nose out of other people’s business” not understanding how important solving the mystery was to Christopher. Where Sherlock would understand Christopher’s want to solve the mystery, his father doesn’t (20).
In one of the many stories containing Sherlock Holmes he states “[his] name is Sherlock Holmes…[and] it is [his] business to know what other people don’t know” (Steiner). He, similar to Christopher, states what he wants people to know about him. Watson claims, “[the] fellow (Sherlock Holmes) may be very clever… but he is certainly very conceited” (A Quote from A Study in Scarlet). Sherlock always attempts to make it a point to prove that he is dexterous. Throughout the novel, Christopher lacks people in his life who share his love for mysteries and his want to prove people wrong; if anything he is surrounded by people who want to hide other’s wrongdoings to keep him safe. So by having Holmes to look up to, he is able to express his love for those things and feel as though he is supported.
Christopher and Sherlock Holmes share distinct social skills that truly set them apart from the people Christopher is around every day. Christopher and Sherlock both enjoy being alone and neither shows empathy toward any situation. Christopher struggles to pick up on people’s emotions and has to carry a note card around to help him identify emotions. Sherlock Holmes deals with death on a daily basis and has yet to discover the correct way to react in that type of situation. Both Christopher and Sherlock do not prefer to interact with strangers and are similar in the struggle of talking to people they don’t know. This is Christopher’s biggest difference from his father, yet his strongest similarity to Holmes. Christopher’s father would be unable to comprehend how Boone is unable to read emotions because he can, in fact, understand emotions. But Sherlock can’t, which allows it to be easier for Christopher to relate.
Christopher understands that he is able to comprehend things in a unique way and knowing this, he does not like the fact that he is alone in that sense. This realization only adds to his apparent social awkwardness due to the fact that he knows he is different. At one point in the story he talks about how he wished that “eventually there [would be] no one left in the world except people who don’t look at other people’s faces… and these people are all special people like [him]. And they like being on their own” (199). This quote includes people like his mother and father but not Sherlock Holmes. There is a point in the story where Christopher’s mom is crying and he says “she made a loud wailing noise like an animal on a nature program on television. I didn’t like her doing this because it was a loud noise, and I said ‘why are you doing that’” (193). This incident is just one that pertains Christopher and his lack of empathy. Christopher and his mother do not correspond well with each other at some points of the story. There was a point where his mother wants to hold hands with him but due to his social skills and personality he was unable to let her do that saying “I don’t like people holding my hand” (194). Actions like this cause Christopher to realize just how contrasting he is from his mother and parallel he and Sherlock are.
Sherlock Holmes, like Christopher, enjoys being alone and supports that when he says “alone is what I have…alone protects me” (Sherlock (TV Series)). He too feels that it is hard to be around people who are not like him. In his case, the people he is accompanied by don’t mentally move as fast as he does. His brain figures things out at a more rapid pace than those around him. He goes on to make fun of this by saying “dear god, what is it like in your funny little brain… it must be so boring” (Sherlock (TV Series)). He, similar to Christopher, does not show empathy. He is never affected by what he sees on a case and therefore does not always act in the appropriate manner. This similarity between Christopher and Sherlock is beneficial to Boone. He is able to see how his differences are not always a burden. He sees that though Sherlock lacks empathy, he is able to have a successful job. He also is witness to the fact that being similar to Sherlock, he could pursue one of his dreams and live alone one day.
At the end of the story, the reader might look back on Christopher and not understand why he chose to bring Sherlock Holmes into the story. Throughout the novel, Christopher finds constant guidance through what Holmes had taught him through his books. It gives Christopher motivation to become an astronaut and travel to London on his own. Sherlock was an example to Christopher that one with similar characteristics to him can still be successful and do what he desires. The comparison between Christopher and Sherlock helps show the reader that Christopher has someone he can relate to in his life, though that person is not physical. It helps build sympathy and hope for Christopher to grow up and do what he loves, not letting any type of disability hold him back.
With Holmes in Mind: Christopher’s Extended Allusion
Living in a world surrounded by people whom function in a different way could cause one to feel left out, but finding another person, fiction or non-fiction that shares similar characteristics can help solve that issue. In Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Christopher decides to write a mystery novel while trying to solve the mystery of his mom and the death of Wellington. While writing the story, he explains his love of Sherlock Holmes and their many compatible qualities. Though Christopher can be viewed as having unique characteristics, he finds comfort in comparing his individual traits with those of the fictional character Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Christopher share similar thinking patterns, personality traits, and social skills that set them apart from the average crowd.
Throughout the novel, Haddon adds different moments that help the reader understand the way Christopher thinks. The way he processes events in his life is different than the average person. Also, the way he approaches a situation is unique to him. He goes around the situation, figuring out everything about the things involved and then deals with the problem. This is similar to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock uses his brain in a different way than his assistant Dr. Watson. Holmes deals with circumstances similar to Christopher where he takes in all the information he can before he comes to a conclusion.
Christopher states that his “memory is like a film” and that he can “simply press Rewind and Fast Forward and Pause like on a video recorder” when he wants to remember something (76). He does not understand the use of metaphors and is unable to comprehend the topic of supernatural. He states “Sherlock Holmes doesn’t believe in the supernatural, which is God and fairy tales and Hounds of Hell and curses, which are stupid” (74). He relates to Sherlock on this level because neither of them can believe that there is something that can exist but can’t be explained or physically seen. Christopher then mentions a time when Watson was talking about Holmes and he states, “the world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes” to where Christopher comments that Sherlock “notices them, like [he] does” (73). Christopher can relate to Sherlock because he can understand why Sherlock thinks the way he does better than he can understand the average person and how they comprehend different things. Sherlock Holmes has a famous quote where he compares the human brain to an attic. He states that “a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and [one has] to stock it with such furniture as [they] choose” (A Study in Scarlet). He then says that “the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic” to which he is referring to himself and other intelligent people (A Study in Scarlet). This comparison to the brain is very similar to Christopher. Christopher and Sherlock both take the time to analyze how their brains work in comparison to other people, where Christopher’s is like a VCR, Sherlock’s is like an attic. Christopher at one point states that he “had to be like Sherlock Holmes and … detach [his] mind at will to a remarkable degree” (132). This showing how Sherlock thinks and how Christopher is referencing him at a tough time to help him through a situation. They appear to approach a situation in the same way.
One major thing about both Christopher and Sherlock Holmes is their distinct personality. Sherlock Holmes is known for his narcissistic personality where Christopher is very similar to that. Both believe that they are very smart to a point where they are almost smarter than the people that surround them. Christopher is very reserved and does not enjoy talking to strangers. Part of his growth through out the book is his confidence talking to strangers. Where Sherlock Holmes is a very conceited person and people find it hard to be around him due to his attitude toward them. Both share similar personality traits, which help Christopher to find Sherlock a relatable character.
Christopher starts his story with “my name is Christopher John Francis Boon. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number to 7057” (2). This quote shows the personality of Christopher and the immense amount of information he knows. He states that he is going to “prove that [he is] not stupid” (44). He wants to prove to the people who don’t believe in him that he can do anything he puts his mind to. He is very confident in the way he talks about his intelligence. Though confident, Christopher is very shy around strangers. He “[does] not like strangers because [he does] not like people [he has] never met before” (34). Before his adventure to London, he had never been in a situation that required him to talk to strangers. This combination of confidence and shyness is what creates the personality of Christopher similar to the personality of Sherlock Holmes.
In one of the many stories containing Sherlock Holmes he states, “my name is Sherlock Holmes…it is my business to know what other people don’t know” (The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle). He, similar to Christopher, states what he wants people to know about him. By Sherlock stating this, he is openly showing his confident, narcissistic personality. Watson claims, “this (Sherlock Holmes) fellow may be very clever… but he is certainly very conceited” (A Study in Scarlet). Sherlock always attempted to make a point to prove that he was smart. This being similar to what Christopher wanted to do. Christopher wanted to prove his intelligence similar to the way Holmes does. Sherlock Holmes, parallel to Christopher, is not an adherent people person. He enjoys his alone time and is not ashamed to state it.
Christopher and Sherlock Holmes share similar social skills when it comes to having empathy or communicating with other people. Christopher and Sherlock both enjoy being alone and neither shows empathy toward any situation. Christopher struggles to pick up on people’s emotions and doesn’t know how to react when someone is feeling sad or angry. Sherlock Holmes deals with death on a daily basis and has yet to discover the correct way to react in that type of situation. Both do not enjoy the act of talking to strangers and try to avoid it best they can.
Christopher picks up on the fact that he is different from the people around him. He understands that he is able to comprehend things in a unique way and knowing this, he does not like the fact that he is alone in that sense. At one point in the story he talks about how he wished that “eventually there [would be] no one left in the world except people who don’t look at other people’s faces… and these people are all special people like [him]. And they like being on their own” (199). Christopher states that he would like this because he is unable to clearly pick out what emotion a person is feeling. It would be easier for him if the people around him were the same way and he didn’t have to worry about trying to figure it out. There is a point in the story where Christopher’s mom is crying and says “she made a loud wailing noise like an animal on a nature program on television. I didn’t like her doing this because it was a loud noise, and I said ‘ why are you doing that’” (193). This incident is just one pertaining Christopher and his lack of empathy. Instead of comforting his mother, he tells her to stop: this being very similar to Sherlock and how he handles different situations.
Sherlock Holmes is very similar to Christopher when it comes to social skills. Sherlock enjoys living alone and states that when he says “alone is what I have…alone protects me” (Sherlock TV). He too feels that it is hard to be around people who are not like him. In his case, the people he is with don’t move as fast as he does. His brain figures things out at a more rapid pace than those around him. He goes on to make fun of this by saying “dear god, what is it like in your funny little brain… it must be so boring” (A Study in Pink). He understands that other people are not as intellectually gifted as he is but he has a hard time slowing down for them to catch up. He, similar to Christopher, does not show empathy. He often says what comes to his head and does not use a filter or think about what he is saying before. Because of this, the people he works with are always skeptical of having him around. His coworkers are often annoyed to have him on a case due to the way he treats them. This similar to Christopher who says that if he doesn’t understand something he will either “ask them what they mean or [he] walk[s] away” (3). Showing how difficult it would be to world with either of them.
At the end of the story, the reader might look back on Christopher and not understand why he chose to bring Sherlock Holmes into the story. It seems though that with out Sherlock in the story, the reader might not understand why he chose to write his story as a mystery. He had said that he ‘like[s] Sherlock Holmes and [he] think[s] that if [he] were a proper detective he (Sherlock Holmes) is the kind of detective [he] would be” (73). Sherlock adds to Christopher’s personality and helps to expose more of what he enjoys. Sherlock was an example to Christopher that one with similar characteristics to him can still be successful and do what he wants. It gives Christopher motivation to become an astronaut and travel to London on his own. The comparison between Christopher and Sherlock helps show the reader that Christopher is capable of more than what has access to at the beginning of the book. It helps build sympathy and hope for Christopher to grow up and do what he loves, not letting any type of disability hold him back.
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band”: The Peculiarities of the Genre
The genre of the detective story is one of the most remarkable categories of short fiction. The Sherlock Holmes stories are genuine masterpieces created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the usage of the detective stories elements has contributed to their popularity. In “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” the author employs the opportunities of the genre in order to provoke readers’ interest and keep them thrilled till the end of the narration. Considering the key components of the story, namely, characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution, it is possible to trace specific techniques that add up to creating the atmosphere of mystery in this case.
To begin with, characters play a pivotal role in the context of a short story. In this respect, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” is not an exception. The particulars of the genre are confirmed: the main characters are the criminal (Dr. Roylott), the possible victim (Helen), and the detective (Holmes). The figure of the criminal is prominent since it is the engine of the development of the events. Describing Dr. Roylott, the author introduces another popular technique of detective stories: some secondary characters may try to throw the main character and the reader off track. Helen provides some important information about her stepfather: “He had no friends at all save the wandering gypsies, and he would give these vagabonds leave to encamp upon the few acres of bramble-covered land.” One may consider the gypsies to be another criminal-like character of the story because they are suspected to be responsible for Julia’s death. However, it is a wrong speculation, and this technique is an effective instrument to lead one astray.
Further, the main victim character is Helen because her life is in danger. Although her sister Julia also becomes the victim, little is known about her, and the narrator emphasizes that solving this mystery is more about saving Helen. Indeed, the expected menace harm can be prevented at the moment, and it becomes the priority of the characters’ actions. Apparently, a detective story should picture the person who will solve the problem as the main character. Just as in all Sherlock Holmes stories, the duo of Mr. Holmes and Mr. Watson is in the focus of readers’ attention, and they not only solve the mystery but also manage to save Helen Stoner. Still, Watson is a more peripheral figure since his function is to narrate and assist Holmes rather than be an active participant in the investigation. Overall, the characters of the story agree with the image of typical detective stories characters.
Another indispensable element of a detective story is the setting. This feature pertains to the location of the action which the author is expected to describe in such detail that readers can picture the scene. It becomes especially interesting when the environment is ordinary because the contrast between the secret and the presumably harmless circumstances adds up to the lack of understanding. Detective stories may be subdivided into several types, and the story under discussion pertains to the locked-room mystery subtype. As the term implies, it involves some criminal events that occurred in a closed setting. The only explanation of the events relates to the actions of the present characters, and the figure of the detective opposes the closeted homosocial environment. Thus, this type is notable for a limited room for criminal action.
In the context of the story, the home environment is given. The locked room mystery is classic: “…the door had been fastened upon the inner side, and the windows were blocked by old-fashioned shutters with broad iron bars, which were secured every night. The walls were carefully sounded and were shown to be quite solid all round, and the flooring was also thoroughly examined, with the same result.” Doyle displays the rooms of the house, the weird whistling, and the clanging sound. Taken together, these details are small steps toward the denouement. By the end of the story, the setting becomes the central object of consideration because it determines the detection of the crime.
The plot is about the actual story with its structure that ideally consists of a clear beginning, the middle part, and the ending, all necessary descriptions, and details included to make it even more interesting. The detective story genre implies that some secret becomes a linchpin of the plot, and little by little, the story heads to the climax where the criminal is revealed. However, the detective genre has never simply been about “who-did-it?” – it but has to do with reflecting the society and places. As a result, the plot serves as the external instrument to shape the story and, at the same time, the point of internal reference when a reader reflects on social matters and phenomena.
All these features are traced in the Sherlock Holmes story. The beginning of the story is distinguishable because Watson deliberately makes an introduction in which he expresses his opinion about unique cases Sherlock worked on. The central element is the chain of weird events: Julia’s death, the beginning of repairs at Helen’s house, and whistling sounds at night. The story also gives some food for thought concerning the social order because one may start thinking about money matters and marriages, unusual hobbies and cold calculus. Watson’s comments and rhetorical questions are also a valuable instrument of reflection: “How shall I ever forget that dreadful vigil?” The ending of the story is a kind of contemplation because the ethical issues related to the death of the criminal are discussed. Thus, the plot of the story is typical of the genre.
The next element of a detective story, problem, is understood as the actual secret that needs to be solved, usually who committed a crime and why. In this respect, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” is based on the problem of the mysterious threat that turns out to be a swamp adder. One can argue that there are two aspects of the problem in this story: while the former is about Julia and her strange words before her death, the latter involves Helen and her life. It would be wrong to treat these aspects as separate phenomena because actually, they refer to the same venomous snake. Thus, the problem of the story is binary, and it only stimulates readers’ interest. It is notable that a reader is supposed to become a partner of the detective and make an attempt to solve the problem or at least find out the right direction. The genre demands that the clues must be plainly stated and described, and the author does precisely so when he pictures the first meeting with Helen. Together with Mr. Holmes, one examines the house and sees what pushes them to understand: the fastened bed, bell-ropes, and ventilators. The ambiguous word “band” deceives both the detective and the reader. Therefore, the feature required by the genre tradition is present to its full extent.
Last but not least, the proper solution is an integral part of the detective story. Logically, the final element must pertain to the solution or the way the action is resolved because it attributes meaning to reading the story. It is probably one of the most challenging moments for the author. In detective stories, the ending must be believable and corresponding to the previously pictured events, otherwise, a reader will be disappointed. However, Doyle’s explanation involves whistling as the way to summon the snake. In 1892, it was believed that snakes were deaf, so Doyle may have made a mistake. As a result, the zoological peculiarities can cloud the overall impression of a reader. Other facts and their interpretation seem to be more concise. Watson briefly describes what happened to Helen and to what conclusion the police arrived when they found Dr. Roylott dead. Only at the end of the story, Mr. Holmes gives a chance to monitor how he was developing his ideas. He presents the same information that a reader received earlier in such a way that all the facts finally make sense.
To sum up, the expressive power of detective short stories is considerable. Although writers sometimes go against the conventional particulars of the genre, they still serve as the necessary elements that help readers orientate themselves within the story and identify its genre. “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” is a good example of the classical detective story. The author operates the critical components of the story, namely, characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution. His choices agree with what modern scholars consider to be the characteristics of the detective story genre. The only exception is the solution because it is hardly believable in the zoological context. Nevertheless, the majority of the genre characteristics are confirmed, and it makes this story is a classic example of a detective locked-room mystery.
The Role of the Family in Conan Doyle’s Fiction
Sherlock Holmes can be defined as a special character in all the aspect; he is loved by the readers due to the outstanding personal features and intelligence. The plots of the short stories about him can be defined as the extremely attractive due to the way how Doyle understood people and their relations. The role of the family cannot be determined as a central one in the short stories devoted to the detective activity of Sherlock Holmes in London. At the same time, it can provide a lot of additional information both about the personality of the main character and about the specificity of people of the particular epoch. Despite the fact that each story is individual in the aspect of characters, ties, and plot, it is possible to define the tendency in the way how the author introduced the family ties in his fiction. The way how Holmes perceived the notion of family might be contrasted with the common one, and this contrast was the other way to emphasize the uniqueness of this character.
A typical way of perceiving a family as the indispensable attribute of the happy life did not work for Sherlock Holmes, and it made him different even from his best friend. At the same time, the author did not detract the role and importance of the family in general, for instance, Watson was happy in his marriage. To begin with, it is necessary to take into consideration the particular role of family for the main character to understand the contrast. The readers do not have a lot of information regarding the parents of the great detective, and it is possible to define that the emotional attachment to the close relatives is extrinsic for Holmes. He did not have the wife and children; moreover, he insisted that he had not ever been in love. Even Irene Adler was not able to melt his heart enough to make the great detective think about family life, there was a rather accurate observation of doctor Watson in the story “I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind.” (Doyle). Lack of romantic ties and lack of desire to have a family can be regarded as the result of the special intellect of the great detective, the attitude to life and other people was based on the rational analytic approach, while the emotional attachment implied irrational background.
The great detective perceived the family ties apprehensively. The author demonstrates that they were not in priority for him, as the Sherlock Holmes substantially estimated his skills and abilities “”Love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.” (Doyle 173). Moreover, even the relations with the best friend and companion became worse because Watson was happy in his marriage. The men moved away from each other completely, and the author was able to emphasize their difference using this fact. In some sense, Holmes was the prisoner of his intelligence to admire the family life in the same way as Watson did. It is also possible to consider the other aspect of the issue, Holmes had a chance to investigate so many cases of the murders within a family that it might have destroyed his faith in it and might have provided him with the idea that even being tied by affinity people are able to betray each other.
To the contrast, the family ties for the minor characters were rather meaningful in the ambivalent sense of this word. From one point of view, as it had already been stated, relation to the same family did not prevent people from committing crimes against each other, like in the story “A Case of Identity” (Doyle). From one point of view, the typical respectful Victorian attitude to the family and the parents is demonstrated in the story by the main character, Mary Sutherland. The young girl demonstrated the elevated attitude to the institution of marriage. From the other point of view, she was betrayed by her stepfather who did not estimate the family ties at all. The same can also be defined in the story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (Doyle) in which the girl was killed by the stepfather. It is possible to find the stories that demonstrate the positive aspect of the family relations, the author did not concentrate exclusively on the dark side of them.
Conan Doyle probably understood the controversies of the human nature in an accurate way, and he was able to demonstrate that people are able to act against each other even being closely connected. He also defined that Sherlock Holmes understood that the presence of family and emotional attachment to it makes a person weak, and that is why the great detective preferred to avoid it. It made him different from the other people and it was the author’s way to demonstrate his uniqueness.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. Sherlock Holmes–The Ultimate Collection. 1st ed., LA, Enhanced Media, 2016,.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes. 1st ed., Sai Epublications, 2016,.
Reading Dracula as Twisted Victorian Detective Fiction: Van Helsing and Seward vs. Homes and Watson
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” — Conan Doyle
The fin de siècle was an era wrought with anxieties brought about by emerging modernity — vast technological innovation paired with new scientific knowledge. New enlightenment understandings prompted an existential crisis as to what extent the scientific method and modernity can result in empirical “certainty” and “truth” — a classic question we still grapple with to this day. The emergence of Victorian detective fiction in the 19th century has been attributed to this “Victorian desire for social and epistemological order.” (Pittard 1). In “We Must Have Certainty” J. K. Van Dover writes “The detective story implies, as part of its essential generic contract with the reader, that in the world of the narrative there will be baffling appearances, and that, in the end, these bafflements will be exorcized.” (Dover 2). In essence, the detective story is supposed to alleviate gothic fears. A detective restores justice and order using modern empirical scientific understanding as a positive good, creating optimism for a modern future and eschewing ignorance and uncertainty.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula contains many elements of Victorian detective fiction in the context of the fin de siècle as a gritty crime thriller, and like Victorian Holmesian detective fiction, it contains many elements of the gothic. However, Dracula intentionally perverts and distorts the classical Holmesian detective story – Abraham Van Helsing and John Seward function as a twisted Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson. Rather than exposit pure cold modernity in their forensic deduction, they undermine modernity by seeking truth in a way which allows the horrors of the gothic to exist and seep into reality, demonstrating accrediting these uncertainties’ existence is necessary to overcome them. This contrasts Holmes and Watson, who alleviate gothic fears by proving such horrors exist only in the realm of temporary misunderstanding of modern empirical science.
When reading Dracula as a work of detective fiction, the Helsing and Seward dynamic functions as a warped Holmes and Watson archetype. Parallels between Holmes and Helsing abound. Both are the eccentric loner as a separate “other,” both are bachelors, academics, and revered scientific experts commanding the leadership role. In their detective work, as Theresa Jamieson describes in “Working for the Empire” both are masculine, as is required in such a dangerous profession, and both serve morality in truth and justice. Both even employ similar middle-class fluidity in their personal interactions. However, Van Helsing clearly differs from Homes in his motivations, strong emotions, and detective methods (view and use of modern science and technology). In Dracula’s larger narrative, Helsing differs in his existence in a warped gothic version of the very real world. Dracula is filled with “baffling appearances” which are not in fact ever fully resolved or understood by science and modernity.
Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson are the quintessential public epitome of Victorian detective fiction. “The Great Detective” himself is world renowned as the ultimate denizen of cold, logical, modern scientific deduction. In The Hound of the Baskervilles Holmes is “the hero-detective acting specifically as the champion of empirical science, facing its crucial challenge, the challenge of the seemingly supernatural… to dispel magic and mystery, to make everything explicit, accountable, subject to scientific analysis.” (Clausson 62). Holmes represents that Victorian-era search for certainty amidst chaos. “A character like Holmes could grow to full stature,” says Christopher Clausen, “only in a time when [. . .] science was viewed by its enthusiasts as a new force crusading for progress against ignorance and unreason.” (Clausson 62). Holmes actively prevents emotion from marring his work. “whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things…Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science…and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner.” (Doyle 116).
In the Sherlock Holmes stories, Watson is an ironic apprentice to Holmes. Not only is Watson older, but being a university educated combat medic he should have the same if not more forensic police detective acumen than Holmes. However, the duo’s dynamic is very much novice seeking to emulate master. Holmes teases Watson to use his cold, logical intuition – and free himself of his emotions. Holmes implores Watson to lose his functional fixedness and expectations of what is possible to solve puzzles Holmes already has completed due to his mastery of said tactics. “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” (Doyle 83). But vitally, it’s never outside the modern empirical scientific method Holmes thinks, and thus, constrains Watson to think inside of. These detective stories reward this way of thinking by proving following the scientific method to pierce through superstition is the single, correct path to unraveling even the most baffling, inexplicable, and seemingly unnatural of crimes. Finally, all the Holmesian detective stories serve to uphold the scientific status quo. “Holmes is not only the voice of scientific detection but also the preserver of the political and social status quo: Holmes is rarely or never threatening […] because his potentially corrosive intellect never questions the basic assumptions of his society.” (Clausson 62).
In Dracula, detection is flipped nearly on its head in the Helsing-Seward duo dynamic. Again, mirroring Watson, Seward is the ironic apprentice – Seward is a well-respected psychologist and denizen of science; he should have everything well in hand. Seward is even akin to Holmes in his tactics, he never thinks outside of empirical science, as Helsing points out “Seward cannot recognize the evidence of vampirism because he is “prejudiced” about what can be true.” (Jann 274). Seward even does drugs, a nod to Holmes’ cocaine use. Yet, the problem of occult Dracula leaves Seward helpless. In Dracula Seward is the apprentice learning from Helsing “a scientist, philosopher, metaphysician…one of the most advanced scientists of his day.” (Jann 274). Like Holmes, Helsing implores Seward to follow his methods. Yet crucially, Helsing’s methods are nearly the exact opposite of Holmes — he teaches with tools that are superstitious and unscientific, but which work just the same.
Unlike Holmes, Helsing battles the status quo – from breaking into property, traveling abroad, and being one who accepts vampires’ existence (and much more) in the face of disbelief. Helsing’s Dutch heritage ties into his connection with the supernatural foreign East. Contrarily, Holmes’ deeply British roots prove no threat to modern British empire or status quo scientific institutions. As a detective, Helsing delves into what modernity cannot tackle. Helsing attacks the science Holmes’s methods are founded on and encourages his fellow detective to do so. “It is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it can explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.” (Stoker 272). Helsing implies men like Holmes would fail miserably to combat threats like Dracula. “In this enlightened age, when men believe not even what they see, the doubting of wise men would be Dracula’s greatest strength.” (Stoker 348). Indeed, “What Dracula’s implacable enemy Professor Van Helsing teaches is that the confidence of modern empirical science and rational skepticism is misplaced, that Victorian naturalism has blinded itself to the continuing terrible powers of the supernal and the supernatural worlds. Beliefs dismissed as primitive superstitions carry vital truths we have forgotten, and this is a core element of the gothic’s constantly restated criticism of modernity.” (Luckhurst xiii). Yet, Helsing does not eschew modernity entirely. He ensures the group utilizes modern tools; pistols, time measurement, typewriters, cameras, phonographs, and much more. “We have on our side power of combination – a power denied to the vampire kind; we have resources of science” (Stoker 222). Seward presents a hybridized view of modernity which undermines the absolute version Holmes lives by. Helsing criticizes modernity for missing crucial aspects of our world because modernity ignores them out of an ironic ignorance of certainty, rather than to explore or combat such uncertainties as needed.
Ultimately, while Helsing and Seward mirror Holmes and Watson in that by the end they still “solve the crime” of Dracula, the way they accomplish this feat of detection is far from the optimistic positivist method made famous by Homes and Watson. In his detective methods, Helsing invokes emotion — like Holmes Helsing’s detective quest to defeat Dracula comes from his motivation he is in the right. But while Holmes sense of righteousness stems from his prided infallible logic, Helsing’s comes from supernal divinity: God. “For if we fail…to us forever the gates of heaven shut; for who shall open them to us again? We go on for all time abhorred by all; a blot on the face of gods sunshine; an arrow in the side of him who died for man.” (Stoker 221). In addition to his emotive to protect those he cares about. “my true friend…I swear it” (Stoker 151). Helsing’s motives are for the good of all. “We have self-devotion in a cause, and an end to achieve which is not a selfish one.” (Stoker 222.) This attacks Holmes atheist, selfish simple motive “I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession.” (Doyle 67).
Beyond motivations, in his work Van Helsing uses archaic, unscientific methods – ironically the only methods which can solve the problem of Dracula. “these things – tradition and superstition – are everything.” (Stoker 222). Garlic, crucifixes, and holy wafers are required for a gothic monster like Dracula, methods that defy scientific logic – but align with the logic of superstitious lore. Helsing uniquely presents these gothic horrors and archaic detection methods as a part of modernity. “A year ago, which of us would have received such a possibility, in the midst of our scientific, skeptical, matter of fact 19th century?” (Stoker 222). Helsing and Seward existing in a world where such gothic monsters like Dracula exist and threaten our modern world in itself mocks the Holmesian detective story, which never contain any such threats it is necessary for Homes and Watson to overcome. “The phantasmagoric imagination of the gothic actually begins to provide many of the metaphors for how we conceive of our modern subjectivity.” (Luckhurst xiii). Dracula’s larger narrative aligns with yet actively undermines the Victorian idea of the detective story grounded in uncovering the unknowable undesirables of the world (crime) using modern methods and non-modern methods.
In the end of any detective story in Holmes’ modern selfish, cold, and calculating search of truth, he eventually reveals to investigators the correct explanation for a crime, using empirical facts and data investigators were unable to logically align. Such an ending is the opposite of Helsing’s conclusive solving of Dracula. “We want no proofs. We ask none to believe us!” (Stoker 351). Helsing doesn’t require a burden of proof from anyone. In fact, Helsing seeks truth in a way which doesn’t require the backing of modern empirical science. Helsing uses the methods necessary to get the job done, modern or archaic and unscientific. The narrative of Dracula itself is not a clear-cut narrative told by a certain detective as a linear timeline, instead it is a subjective pastiche of documents filled with uncertainties; missing events, time, and objectivity. Like Helsing’s detective methods, the narrative is full of emotion and uncertainty.
Stoker’s employment of detective fiction in Dracula is crooked in that empiricism and the scientific method never solves or understands the crime of the Dracula in the modern world. Dracula suggests the limits of scientific deduction and, thereby, the optimistic view of modernity. Helsing and Seward as detectives in Dracula suggests we need to keep an open mind and indulge in uncertainty, not cast it away as nonsense – ironically the opposite of what empirical science seeks to do in the first place. “It is that the chief proof of man’s real greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness.” (Doyle 90).
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Cottom, Daniel. “Sherlock Holmes Meets Dracula.” Elh, vol. 79, no. 3, 2012, pp. 537-567.
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Hogle, Jerrold E. “The Gothic at our Turn of the Century: Our Culture of Simulation and the Return of the Body.” The Gothic. Edited by Fred Botting. Brewer, 2001.
Jamieson, Theresa. “Working for the Empire: Professions of Masculinity in H. G. Wells’s the Time Machine and R. L. Stevenson’s the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.” Victorian Network, vol. 1, no. 1, 2009, pp. 72-91.
Jann, Rosemary. “Saved by Science? the Mixed Messages of Stoker’s Dracula. “Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 31, no. 2, 1989, pp. 273-287.
Page, Jeremy, et al. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I. Oxford University Press, 2014. Pittard, Christopher. “Victorian Detective Fiction: An Introduction.” Crimeculture, University of Newcastle, 2003, www.crimeculture.com/?page_id=135.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Van Dover, J.K. We must have Certainty: Four Essays on the Detective Story. Susquehanna UP, 2005. ProQuest, https://login.ezp1.lib.umn.edu/login?qurl=https://search.proquest.com%2fdocview%2f43184271%3faccountid%3d14586.