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Amber Capasso Professor Haas Writing 37 13 February 2014 The Partner in Crime The mystery genre is part of fiction literature, "where the plot revolves around a mysterious happening that acts as the driving question," with characteristics such as a genius detective, mediocre sidekick, and a tricky culprit (Mystery Fiction). These genres do not stay static, but develop throughout the four stages of genre development: primitive, classical, parodic, and revisionist. During the 19th century, Arthur Conan Doyle unknowingly established most of the notable genre conventions of mystery fiction that we still expect. Doyles most popular novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, sheds light upon another important convention of the mystery: the immense dependency Holmes and Watson maintain with each other; it is a reliance that cannot be successfully fulfilled by any other person. Although Holmes is the lead detective, he puts Watson in charge of collecting evidence and observing the details of the case in his absence. In addition, the short story "Silver Blaze" illustrates how Watsons knowledge is of value to him on the case of the missing horse. In The Final Problem, Holmess true feelings toward Watson are revealed when he gives himself up to Moriarty leaving only a letter behind. Holmes is depicted as emotionless man that perceives himself as superior to everyone else, but in an excerpt from the story, Holmess genuine feelings towards Watson are expressed. Since Holmes is the main character and lead detective in every story, readers typically do not realize the significance of Watson. However, Watson is the one who enables Holmes to be the greatest

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fictional detective ever. Watson may be the sidekick in this relationship, but he implanted the expected role that every sidekick now in days is supposed to represent. The relationship between Sherlock Holmes and his companion, Dr. John Watson, is a convention that still captures the hearts and minds of many to this day. Holmess and Watsons relationship is a bizarre one indeed, and their connection with each other is a mystery all in itself. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Watsons true value to Holmes comes into play. After correcting Watsons analysis of the walking stick left behind, Holmes tells him, It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are the conductor of light. Some people without processing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it (Doyle 71). When Holmes refers to light, this is a symbol for intelligence and wisdom, which is also a motif that is seen all throughout Sherlock stories. By telling Watson that he is not himself luminous, he is using a euphemism, merely trying to use a less offensive phrase to describe that Watson is not so intelligent when it comes to deduction. Although Holmes can be ill-mannered at times, this shows that he cares enough about his companion to monitor what he says to him. Conductor is a symbol for leader or director, which emphasizing that Watson directs the light (knowledge) to Holmes. Stating that Watson is the conductor of light is a metaphor, suggesting that Watson gives Holmes insight and allows him to generate necessary knowledge. Holmes has a considerable amount of respect and appreciation for Watsons intellect and talent even it is not as defined as his own. Watsons remarkable power is extraordinary and Holmes realizes that Watson is a key part in his process of solving cases. He needs Watson as a stimulant for putting the pieces of the case together and analyzing every aspect of evidence. It is apparent that Watson provides Holmes with knowledge in areas he lacks. In Silver Blaze after examining the knife found in the pockets of Straker, Holmes states it is a singular knife and requests Watsons

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expertise in order to specify the type of knife (Doyle 10). Without Watson, there is no doubt that Holmes would still be able to solve his cases, but he would be more likely to make mistakes and overlook details of evidence.

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Watson is given the rare opportunity to demonstrate his investigative abilities in the absence of Holmes. Before Watson departs to Devonshire, Holmes states, I will not bias your mind by suggesting theories or suspicions, Watson I wish you simply to report facts in the fullest possible manner to me, and you can leave me to do the theorizing (133). Holmes shows that he trusts Watson to use what he has learned from him and apply his skills. He understands that Watson may make some inaccurate judgments, but will use his eye for detail to collect the facts that Holmes needs to solve the case. With Holmes out of the equation for most of the story, Watson is left to do all the work. This gives readers an advantage because now we are able to jump right in and begin putting the pieces together for ourselves. As readers we know that The friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal from the reader any thoughts which pass through his mind, his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader (The Mystery Genre). This allows us to decipher Watsons false findings from the true, so we are usually one step ahead of him in solving the case. Holmes is depicted as a man with no emotions throughout Conan Doyles stories, but in The Final Problem we see a different side of Holmes in his letter to Watson: I am pleased to think that I shall be able to free society from any further effects of his presence, though I fear that it is at a cost which will give pain to my friends, and especially, my dear Watson, to you Indeed, if I may make a full confession to you, I was quite convinced that the letter from Meringen was a hoax, and I allowed you to

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depart on that errand under the persuasion that some development of this sort would follow. (Doyle 16-17). Since Holmes knew the only way to stop Moriarty was to give himself up, he did just that. The letter he left behind for Watson shows that he truly cares about him as a partner, but also a worthy friend. He allowed Watson to leave and assist Meringen so that he would be safe from Moriartys foul plans. Although it may cause Watson some pain to know that Holmes has lost the battle to Moriarty, Holmes knew it was the right thing to do in order to protect his dear friend. The relationship that Arthur Conan Doyle created between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is an important part of the mystery genre because it has established a foundation for what the detective-sidekick partnership is supposed to resemble. Holmes and Watson are essential to each other. Even though Watson is the sidekick, he is an important part of the story; as author Brenta Belvins says, Sidekicks perform a number of functions in the stories they populate, not just serving as the companions and assistants to the main characters. We as readers nowadays always expect a detective to be accompanied by a sidekick. This mystery genre convention is seen in many television shows today such as Sherlock, House, and Elementary.

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Works Cited Belvins, Brenta. The Role of the Sidekick. New Myths. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Hound of the Baskervilles. Higher Reader, LLC. 2013. Kindle Edition. Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Problem. Newnes, 1894. Print The Mystery Fiction. WGBH Educational Foundation. Masterpiece Theatre. PBS.org. 2005. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.