This helped give his stories a feel of accuracy and thoroughness, which appealed to the Victorian readership. The modern day reader would probably find this element of the stories exhaustive, being accustomed to more fast-paced plots. Because the stories were written over one hundred years ago, the language used appears old-fashioned and formal compared to that of modern day. Even Holmes and Watson, who are close friends, address each other with every formality. ‘”If you would have the great kindness to get rid of that Scottish friend of yours, I should be exceedingly glad to have a little talk with you. “‘
The Man with the Twisted Lip This language is clearly very different to the language used today, but it offers something for the modern reader to enjoy – comedy. Unwittingly, Conan Doyle created something which the modern reader can be genuinely amused by. ‘”Very sorry to knock you up, Watson,” said he,”‘ The Speckled Band ‘”What? ” he ejaculated wildly,”‘ The Boscombe Valley Mystery Both are examples of phrases of which the meanings have changed completely over the years. “Knocked up” meaning to be woken up, and “ejaculation” meaning to cry out, are now a source of sexual innuendo and humour for the modern day reader.
The main thing which attracts all readers to the Sherlock Holmes stories is the character Holmes himself. I will now analyse the different characteristics which draw readers to him. Holmes has a passion for mystery. It is this which motivates him to solve crimes, not money. In fact, his desire for justice is subsidiary to his love of solving crimes. ‘”This is more interesting than it promised to be; quite dramatic, in fact. “‘ The Noble Bachelor His untiring enthusiasm for the mystery of the cases is very endearing to a reader.
A man who solves crimes with unique fervour as a hobby is much more exciting than a detective who is paid to do the same, and does it with less passion. In “The Man with the Twisted Lip” Holmes is fascinated by and attracted to the case as it is so unusual, and appears impossible. There are no obvious clues or criminals like there are in other stories like “The Speckled Band”. ‘”It seems absurdly simple, and yet, somehow, I can get nothing to go upon. “‘ The Man with the Twisted Lip Holmes often finds the “simple” cases to be the ones with the most mystery, and this is what attracted him to the case of Neville St.
Clair (the man who disguised himself as a beggar). In contrast, what attracted Holmes to the case of the “Noble Bachelor” was the fact that the police, and his rival (but clearly lesser) detective, Lestrade, were failing completely to find anything. ‘”Mr Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, is acting already in the matter, but he assures me that he sees no objection to your co-operation, and that he even thinks it might be of some assistance. “‘ The Noble Bachelor The fact that the police and Lestrade can’t solve the case means Holmes has a chance to prove his genius to them all when he does.
One of his less endearing qualities is that he enjoys showing off when he has solved a case. However, it is undeniable that the character is made more engaging by his “thirst” for mystery and his matchless motivation for solving crime. Holmes’ clients, or rather people who come running to him for help, all have one thing in common. They are at their wits end and are completely clueless as to what has happened. Their problems are serious and they have no other option than to come to Holmes when they have tried everything else. In other words, they are extremely troubled.
In “The Speckled Band” and “The Man with the Twisted Lip” Holmes is visited by a woman. In both cases the woman is presented as weak and submissive; she is upset and scared. This is the way almost all women were portrayed by Conan Doyle. ‘We could see that she was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all drawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes,’ The Speckled Band Despite the fact that these women are terrified, Holmes manages to soothe and reassure them, usually by showing off his skills. ‘”You know me, then? ”
“No, but I observe the second half of a return ticket on the palm of your left glove. “‘ These little tricks impress his clients and help win their confidence, however they are rarely necessary, as the clients have already heard of his brilliance. In “The Speckled Band” his client has heard of his talent through a friend (whom Holmes helped). In “The Man with the Twisted Lip” the client knows of Holmes through Watson – who better than to spread the word of his expertise? In “The Noble Bachelor” Holmes is written to by his client, who has heard from a “Lord Backwater” that he can be of use.
In all three cases, the clients have heard of Holmes simply through others who have benefited from his talent and now respect him because of it. This accentuates the greatness of Sherlock Holmes – he has no need to advertise himself, others who admire him serve that purpose. Not only is the superiority of Holmes reinforced by his clients, but also by the villains he defeats. In “The Speckled Band” Dr. Roylott (the murderer) confronts Holmes. ‘”I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here. ” He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands……
“He seems a very amiable person,” said Holmes, laughing. ‘ Holmes is not afraid of the fearsome man and faces him with humour. This shows how brave he is, and how he will not be intimidated by the most violent of men. He is also able to get the better of the cleverest villains. ‘”There is no doubt that you have detected and defeated in the most complete manner one of the most determined attempts at bank robbery that have ever come within my experience. “‘ The Red Headed League Holmes manages to conquer skilful villains that the police force is unable to catch.
Not only does he show bravery when faced with danger, but he is cunning enough to outwit mastermind criminals. The failure of each of these criminals helps to strengthen Holmes’ superiority. Holmes has an interesting approach to investigating cases. His main one is to study everything – every minute factor, question every witness or person possibly involved with the case, and find out everything about the place in which the crime was committed. He takes note of the smallest detail and remembers it, and it invariably helps him later to solve the case.
He is also skilled at piecing details together, for example, he is able to look at a person and deduct exactly what they have been doing. ‘”The left arm of your jacket is spattered with mud in no less than seven places. The marks are perfectly fresh. There is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and then only when you sit on the left-hand side of the driver. “‘ The Speckled Band His uncanny ability to observe and calculate everything around him is seen as unbelievable in today’s society, and would be met with incredulity, but a Victorian reader would be much more willing to believe Holmes.
In modern day we have the technology to do what Holmes has done, and we know for sure that a mere mortal could not be capable of those skills alone. However, the Victorians did not know anything about crime detection and certainly had no special technology for it, and especially since their own police force was so poor, they were impressed by the character of Holmes and trusted him. Moreover, Sherlock Holmes has more than just skills. He has eccentric habits that attract the interest of any reader. In “The Man with the Twisted Lip”, he decides to dress and act like a tramp.
‘His form had filled out, his wrinkles were gone, his dull eyes had regained their fire, and there, sitting by the fire, and grinning at my surprise, was none other than Sherlock Holmes. ‘ The Man with the Twisted Lip In this section of the story, Watson is astonished to find Holmes in disguise. This practical joke is an example of some the unexpected, peculiar things the sleuth comes up with. Holmes’ character is also made more interesting by the fact that he is not perfectly behaved; on the contrary, he smokes incessantly.
‘”I reached this one by sitting upon five pillows and consuming an ounce of shag. ” The Man with the Twisted Lip This cheeky response shows not only Holmes’ sense of humour, but one of his less clean habits which makes him all the more remarkable . Holmes also seems to be an expert at anything that crops up, for example, in “The Man with the Twisted Lip” he turns out to be brilliant at driving a dog cart, which proves useful when he and Watson need to make a fast journey. ‘He flicked the horse with his whip, and we dashed away. ‘
The Man with the Twisted Lip In “The Speckled Band” he has an opportunity to display his encyclopaedic knowledge by identifying a snake immediately. ‘”It is a swamp adder! ” cried Holmes “the deadliest snake in India. “‘ His bountiful knowledge means that the character of Holmes never ceases to surprise the reader – when will he next gift us with his expertise? I think the most endearing eccentricity of Holmes is his sudden, unanticipated behaviour and quirky movement. ‘For two streets he shuffled along with a bent back and uncertain foot.
Then, glancing quickly round, he straightened himself out and burst into a hearty fit of laughter. ‘ The Man with the Twisted Lip We see through Watson’s eyes that Holmes is an exciting and entertaining person to be with, and we can picture the animated man clearly. ‘Suddenly, Holmes threw himself to the floor like a bloodhound on a scent trail. ‘ The Red Headed League Animal imagery is used to give him even more interesting characteristics. These are attention-grabbing to the modern day reader, but even more so to a Victorian reader, who would have been brought up to behave in a much more self-contained manner.
Holmes also loves to show off and be dramatic. He often mentions past cases. ‘”Ah yes, I recall the case; it was concerned with an opal tiara. I think it was before your time, Watson. “‘ The Speckled Band Although he says this in a flippant manner, it is clear that he enjoys reminding the people around him of his past triumphs, and quietly basks in his own success. When congratulated on a case, he plays at mock-modesty. When flattered and thanked profusely on his actions at bringing a criminal to justice, he replies;
‘”I had one or two little scores of my own to settle with Mr. John Clay, “‘ The Red Headed League Holmes changes the subject and makes out that his deeds were minimal, but it is clear he actually holds himself in very high esteem. He places himself in situations in which he can receive plenty of attention, and enjoys pretending to dislike it. A modern reader may find the character of Sherlock Homes unrealistic. His encyclopaedic knowledge and unwavering skills would seem clichi?? d in modern day society, and perhaps they are, but I think that Holmes set the clichi??
of the “unstoppable detective”. He was the first, and Conan Doyle created something original and different. Although I find the long descriptions tedious and the predictable endings incredibly boring, Holmes does charm me. He is a character incomparable to any other – his eccentric habits and humour, intriguing mysteries and thoughts are loveable, even if they are out of place in today’s world. I also think that most of the other detective characters we see today, on programs such as “CSI” and crime films like “Di?? ji??
vu”, are simply recreations of Sherlock Holmes, albeit altered to fit into the advanced, technological and critical world we live in. They solve every crime, and have extensive knowledge, and although we hate to admit it, we really do wish they actually existed, even though we know it is probably not possible. In conclusion, I will say that although I enjoy very little about the stories, being interested in more challenging, thought-provoking literature, I find the character of Sherlock Holmes wonderfully creative and understand his enduring appeal.
His charm, eccentricities and skill at crime-solving captivated the Victorians and still entertain readers today, because he is a truly unique character. Each of the stories I have analysed follow a structure that is predictable, but also satisfying and providing of moral reassurance. Conan Doyle’s winning formula will continue to impress readers long into the future. We are yet to see a better fictional detective created through the pages of a book.