View Full Version : A Scandal in Bohemia and Holmes' Character Flaws

01-04-2012, 09:10 AM
Hello everybody!

I stumbled over this forum while looking for an essay topic for an essay I have to write for college (I'm German and study English). Because I recently bought "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" I decided to write about the following question:

Which Tools Does Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Use in his Short Story “A Scandal in Bohemia” to present the reader Not Only a Brilliant and Omniscient Sherlock Holmes But to Give his Character Complexity?

I want to point out that Holmes of course is a brilliant detective but that he has also flaws that give him as a character in a ficitonal context deepness and complexity. I want to write about his drug consume, his opinion about feelings and his lack of social behavior respectively his lack of participation in society.

The main point on which I think about at the moment is this:
Because of his lack of freinds and participation in society he (Holmes) seems to be content with himself as an intellectual companion, which gives the reader several choices of interpretation: First Holmes could be overly arrogant who thinks himself above everyone else and doesn’t want to mingle with the common man. Second he could be incredibly alone because he is not capable to build a relationship solely based on sympathy respectively feelings. Most likely he simply doesn't mind beeing alone because he is more interested in logical coherence than in other people (which comes easily to the readers mind when he reminds himself of the fact that Holmes loves solving crimes).

I wonder how his childhood was. Why do you think Holmes is the way he is? Is there any reference to this topic in any of Doyles work's?
And isn't it strange that a person who loves coherence and clear thoughts consumes drugs? I don't get it. It doesn't matter that cocaine wasn't forbidden during that time, shouldn't the fact that drugs constrict the capability of clear thinking be a huge reason for Holmes not to take them? (sorry for this ugly sentence xD) He, who relys only on his power of observation? In which situations does he take drugs? There have to be times when he wants to forget about things otherwise I can't imagine why he should take them.

I'm looking forward to read your opinions!

08-21-2013, 07:27 AM
Svenja, German system of education is cool, if it allows you to write an essay on such an interesting topic. However, you must have already written it. But thank you for the questions, they are worth discussing.
1. To start with, Sherlock is able to build friendly relationships, Watson is his friend.
He doesn’t think himself “above everyone else” but different from everyone else..
2. Do you mean he doesn’t meet the man with similar intellectual abilities, a good interlocutor? Maybe. Friends usually share our interests, but not necessarily the professional interests. I mean, Sherlock needed a person as clever as himself, but not a detective.
3. I suppose, he is interested in people. He helps people not only because he likes untangling crimes, but because he sympathises people. He is worried when his clients are in danger.
One more reason: Life experience has made him distrustful. He might be afraid of future friend’s betrayal.
I suppose, in childhood Holmes wasn’t so smart. He was just gathering information, observing, reading. I guess, he didn’t tell people the results of using the deductive method. ;) If he did, poor his mates and teachers. ;)
When I read first this fact about drugs, I was shocked and surprised. Because to take drugs and to maintain physical health and mental abilities is just impossible. But it’s fiction, after all. The reason to take drugs is explained in “The sign of the four” ("My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants.”) But this explanation is not convincing to me. If he felt bored, why didn’t he entertain himself with art or science?

08-21-2013, 12:31 PM
Sherlock Holmes had a brother called Mycroft, who was even cleverer than he was. Maybe the developed their sleuthing skills together as children, but Mycroft decided not to continue when he grew up. Being of his class, no doubt Sherlock Holmes was sent to a private school, maybe as a boarder. Boarding schools of that age are often blamed for emotionally stunting boys, to toughen them up so they could run the empire. Someone told me he was a bit of a boxer. He would have done that at school. I expect his school years were rather hard.

Regarding his drug use, I expect he just regards them as recreational drugs which he prefers to alcohol. Which drugs does he use?