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Tashin Naidoo 11I Miss Judge

24 March 2013 Literary essay

Topic: „These protagonists were often gentlemen possessed of such admired
traits as scientific knowledge and superior intellect, and they elicited much
enthusiasm among nineteenth-century readers‟.
Sherlock Holmes is a man of great depth and complexity, with only certain
subtle elements of his character becoming apparent as one learns more about
him. While being a demented sociopath, he uses his keen powers of
observation; his brilliant mind and his flair for mischief to solve crimes.
Despite his lack of boundaries, he is valued because his tricks, ruses and
mind games close cases. His reasoning techniques; relationship with Dr.
Watson; and disregard for protocol defines him as the unique detective he is.
Sherlock Holmes is a man of great ability, who is able to use his keen sense of
surveillance to solve cases. Holmes is able to use deductive reasoning to
solve cases by starting with a broad spectrum of information and synthesising
it into a more specific conclusion. This method is often referred to as the „top
down‟ method by detectives. Holmes first formulates a theory or many
theories, each having valid points regarding the dilemma at hand. From here,
this information is tapered down into more explicit hypotheses which can be
analysed. The hypotheses are then narrowed down even further when
observations are collected to test the hypotheses. Ultimately, this leads to
Holmes being able to test the hypotheses with specific data, and thus lead to a
confirmation, or not, of the original theory and arriving at a conclusion.
Regarding his methods, in A Study In Scarlet, Holmes elucidates to the
fervent, bemused Watson and says: "In solving a problem of this sort, the
grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful
accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In
the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the
other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for
one who can reason analytically...Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most
people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result
would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from
them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if
you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner
consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is
what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically." This shows
that Holmes‟ uncanny observational skills as well as his use of deductive
reasoning play an important role in his ability to solve crimes, as well as
portrays him as an intellectual protagonist to inferior beings.
Dr. Watson is Holmes‟ best friend, as well as his partner who aids in a great
number of cases which Holmes has to undertake. They both have a
relationship which is very unique as both are dependent on each other.
Holmes, especially, relies on Watson to help portray himself as a superior
being. Watson was created to be on the same wavelength of the reader, thus
promoting Holmes portraying him as being „better than everyone else‟. His
effortless deductions make Watson (as well as the reader) seem inferior and
stupid. Holmes is known for being a rude, sociopath who relishes the idea of
proving his superiority over Watson. In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,
Holmes deduces that Watson had put on weight since the last time he had
seen him, and makes a disparaging comment. This incenses Watson, making
him feel inferior. In A Study In Scarlet, the first time in which Watson meets
Holmes, he is known for saying: “‟This fellow may be very clever.‟ I said to
myself, „but he is certainly very conceited.‟” This shows that without Watson,
Holmes would not have been portrayed as consummately as he is. Watson
compliments his character and highlights Holmes‟ positive aspects, thus
rendering the Sherlock Holmes series a „hit‟. Readers were able to relate to
Watson, and this made it popular in the nineteenth century.
Sherlock Holmes is well known for using his mind-boggling observational
skills to solve mysteries and crimes. In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,
Holmes presses the fact to Watson that he only “sees but does not observe”.
Holmes is also known for saying: "Once you eliminate the impossible,
whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. "This type of
attitude results in Holmes not conforming to the norm, but pushing his
boundaries to do whatever is necessary in order to prove his statement to be
correct. He used a vast array of methods, some even considered illicit by
today‟s standards. Holmes was known for using recreational drugs such as
cocaine, heroin and morphine in order to achieve a mind state in which he was
in absolute thought. The drugs aided him in being able to see things, people
would often overlook. Holmes was also known for never working directly with
the police, when presented with cases. He preferred to ponder in isolation, and
when he believed it was time to act, acted alone with the exception of Watson.
This shows that by Holmes refusing to conform to the norm, he was able to be
a more successful detective and was able to identify his strengths and
weaknesses. This was able to encapsulate the interest of people during the
nineteenth century, making him popular.
In conclusion, Sherlock Holmes is one of the greatest detectives of all time,
largely because he is a complex character and flawed character who was able
to earn the respect of many.