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Patricia Nguyen


World Lit. 3

13 November 2017

“The Man with the Twisted Lip”

Cracking cases since 1887, Sherlock Holmes is a famous detective who is known for his

superb skills in solving mysteries. Although he is famous, Holmes is not real; in fact, he is the

creation of Arthur Conan Doyle. Born in the year of 1859, Arthur Conan Doyle lived a bleak,

poor life, yet even with academic and financial problems, his parents were able to send their

17-year-old son to medical school in 1877. The University of Edinburgh became Doyle’s

sanctuary away from his violent father, and it also was where he met his inspiration for Sherlock

Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell. Similar to Holmes, Bell was a mysterious man, and his powers of

analysis intrigued those around him. In 1878, he solved the Chanterelle mystery, using his

method of deduction. Doyle was captivated by his mentor. After a year, Dr. Joseph Bell hired

him to be his assistant. While working with his boss, though Doyle received respect, he did not

receive warmth and affection. Ultimately, their relationship was critical in creating Sherlock’s

character. Graduating in 1881, the future writer opened his own practice, which did not support

him financially. When his career in the medical field failed, it prompted the entrepreneur to write

short stories to earn money. Later, in 1887, Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in ​A

Study in Scarlet​ and soon became a sensation. However, Holmes’ similarity to Dr. Joseph Bell

negatively affected his reputation because readers believed that Joseph Bell was as cold and

unemotional as the renowned sleuth. Even though the pattern for Holmes was not a fan, others
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were, which in turn led to Doyle becoming immensely wealthy. Arthur Conan Doyle in 1902

was even knighted by King Edward VII because he wrote a pamphlet that defended the actions

of British soldiers during the Boer War. Unfortunately, the author became bored of Sherlock and

attempted to kill the character, but fans forced him to resurrect the famous detective. During

1930, Arthur Conan Doyle died of a heart attack in Crowborough, United Kingdom. His legacy

is still lived through his notorious creation, Sherlock Holmes. ​Since the day that Holmes made

his debut, he has catched the attention of many readers around the world; being one of the

famed works of Doyle starring non other than Sherlock Holmes, “The Man With the

Twisted Lip” establishes the features of Detective Fiction.

One characteristic that define Detective Fiction is that the crime should be worthy

and significant of the attention it receives. In “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” Sherlock

Holmes is hired by a hopeful wife to find her missing husband. ​Mrs. St. Clair explains to him

that she saw a frantic Mr. St. Clair behind a window at the Bar of Gold, but when she brought the

police to find him, there was “no sign of him” in the room in which he was last seen (4). The

case is significant as no major clues is found at the crime scene, leaving Holmes with ​“nothing

to go upon”​ (3). Essentially, the lack of major clues affects Holmes’ power of deduction. It is

evident that the crime is worthy of Sherlock’s attention when he tells Watson, ​“Now, I’ll state

the case clearly and concisely to you, Watson, and maybe you can see a spark where all is

dark to me”​ (3). ​In the genre, one of the characteristics it must have is a worthy, clever

opponent that must be an equal match to Holmes, which results in a harder crime to

resolve. The well-known detective faces an intelligent man, Mr. St. Clair, who is able to

hide his other identity from Holmes.​ In the mystery, Sherlock Holmes is convinced that Mr. St.
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Clair is dead, using the few clues that he is given. Holmes, also, confesses to Watson that he

“cannot recall any case”​ that ​“presented such difficulties”​ (6). With Holmes struggling to

complete the case, Mr. St. Clair is a worthy, clever opponent of Holmes. Mrs. St. Clair attempts

to tell Sherlock that her husband is alive when she receives a letter from him. However, the

detective believes that it ​“is a clever forgery to put [them] on the wrong scent”​ (7). The letter,

written from her husband, confuses Sherlock, making the crime difficult to solve. ​Another

major characteristic of Detective Fiction is that the detective should explain the solution of

the crime, so that it seems logical and possible. In this case, Sherlock does not explain all

aspects; however, Neville St. Clair explains his perspective of the crime after being exposed,

exclaiming that the crime is not an accident.​ Afraid of his children’s thoughts on his

profession, St. Clair leads them to believe that he is still employed as a reporter and ​“would

have endured imprisonment … rather than have left [his] miserable secret as a family blot”

to his children (10). On the morning of the crime, he is shocked by the presence of his wife and

requests that Lascar to stop anyone from coming up, explaining why Mrs. St. Clair is prevented

from entering the room. Mr. St. Clair is given enough time to change into his “Hugh Boone”

disguise and accidentally injures himself in the process, causing the drops of blood seen by

Sherlock. When the police arrive, they suspect that Hugh Boone murdered Mr. St. Clair and

threw his corpse into the ocean due to the bloody sight. Surprisingly, the police and his wife

“could not pierce so complete a disguise,”​ resulting in the imprisonment of Hugh Boone

without the suspicion that it he is actually Neville St. Clair (10). Even if Sherlock does not

explain how the case is, Neville explains the events that took place, making the solution possible

and logical.
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Known to be the basis of a detective, Holmes is a character who famously uses his

powers of analysis to solve a mystery or crime. Inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, Doyle is able to

create his celebrated detective and the collection of short stories about Holmes. To Doyle,

he brings him wealth and boredom. To Bell, Holmes brings him unwanted popularity and

discontent. To the readers, Sherlock Holmes brings delight and hope.

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Works Cited and Consulted

"Arthur Conan Doyle." ​Contemporary Authors Online​, Gale, 2008. ​Literature Resource Center​,

0026717&it=r&asid=beaf63d8727c598a6cf990b88a7b7ce0. Accessed 9 Nov. 2017.

Cox, J. Randolph. "Arthur Conan Doyle." ​British Mystery Writers, 1860-1919​, edited by

Bernard Benstock and Thomas F. Staley, Gale, 1988. Dictionary of Literary Biography

Vol. 70. ​Literature Resource Center​,

0002740&it=r&asid=28032fc17c4f0047bd2a509f01f5ba7e. Accessed 9 Nov. 2017.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. “The Man with the Twisted Lip.” ​The Complete Sherlock Holmes Canon,

15 March 2014,

Holman, C. Hugh. ​A Handbook to Literature. ​The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1980.

Hutchinson, Mary Anne. "Arthur Conan Doyle." ​Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth

Edition​, January 2010, pp. 1-9. EBSCO​host​,


Sherlock Holmes: The True Story.​ Directed by Christopher Rowley, Produced by Cinenova

Productions, ​Discovery Channel,​ 2003.