Sherlock Holmes Essay

Reads: 8131  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Its an essay on how the author has either made Sherlock Holmes heroic and anti-heroic.

Did Arthur Conan Doyle create a hero or an anti hero in the character of Sherlock Holmes?
Arthur Conan Doyle invented a character named Sherlock Holmes. The first editions of the stories were published in 1887 and are representative of the Victorian period they were written in. Creatively, Sherlock Holmes is based on Conan Doyle’s professor Dr Joseph Bell. Conan Doyle was influenced by Bell’s use of observation to make diagnoses; the character of Holmes uses the same skill to solve crimes. Sherlock Holmes is famous for unraveling unsolvable mysteries and is a hero in many people’s eyes but in addition to his positive qualities, he also has many negative ones. I am going to examine if Sherlock Holmes is a hero as he continually makes himself seem anti-heroic.
In many of Conan Doyle’s stories, much of the appeal for readers is in trying to unravel the real mystery, the personality of Sherlock Holmes. Crucially, Conan Doyle has portrayed a villainous side to his creation. For example Holmes thinks he is above the law. This demonstrates in ‘The Blue Carbuncle’ where he declares “I suppose I am committing a felony, but it is possible I am saving a soul”. This shows a side of Sherlock Holmes that all his fans would be disgusted with but, also intrigued by. He acts as judge and jury to the criminals he catches. In the Victorian times, the police force weren’t highly thought of and somebody in Sherlock Holmes social standing would be encouraged to feel superior. Conan Doyle himself had contempt for the police and investigated two miscarriages of justice in his spare time. The character of Holmes offered him the opportunity to voice his opinions to a wide audience. However Conan Doyle’s opinion towards Holmes would be that he would think that Holmes is right in his attitude because he helps people and also he solves the mysteries which the police are unable to.
Another way to criticize Sherlock Holmes is that he is unemotional. Conan Doyle frequently shows a heartless and unemotional side of him. For example in ‘The Copper Beeches’  Watson explains “As to Miss Violet Hunter, my friend Holmes, rather to my disappointment manifested no further interest in her when she ceased to be the centre of one of his problems”. This highlights Holmes’s dispassionate behavior that is out of character with how people would normally expect a hero to behave. After Holmes and Watson’s investigation is finished, Conan Doyle has shown that Holmes has no interest in people. There is only one thing that Holmes cares for; his passion of solving mysteries. This would make the readers very disappointed in Holmes’s detached behavior also they are disappointed like Watson because of his unemotional act. However, I would argue that Holmes has to be unemotional in order to be a great detective, because he is a character that is independent and vigilant, Holmes has to be unemotional to build up his key heroic quality which is fearlessness. Without this, Holmes would be afraid and hide away from the mysteries that he loves so much. The fact that he is fearless means that he is not afraid of anything that is in his way. For instance in “The Red-headed league” Watson describes how “Holmes the slide across the front of his lantern, and left us in pitch darkness as I have never before experienced”. This gives an extraordinary, dramatic impact to the reader as Watson explains his horrifying experience. On the other hand, it demonstrates how Holmes’s unemotional side means that he has no fears, no emotions towards this particular event, even though Watson admitted that he was scared. Conan Doyle uses Watson to express how fearless Holmes is, this contrast between the characters makes Holmes seem extraordinary. Watson is the narrator in the stories because he is the person most close to Holmes so he can explain his odd behavior and techniques. Conan Doyle has done this because he wants to show the relationship between Holmes and Watson so the reader can be more intrigued.  However, despite this evident heroism, in Conan Doyle’s stories we find out that Sherlock Holmes takes cocaine which is a drug. This shows how Holmes can’t handle his addiction and destroys his heroic stance. For example in ‘The missing Three Quarter’ Watson thinks to himself “For years I had gradually weared him from that drug mania which had threatened once to cheek his remarkable career. Now I knew that under ordinary conditions he no longer craved for his artificial stimulus, but I was well aware that the fiend was not dead but sleeping.” This shows how Watson actually has the upper hand because Watson knows that Holmes should ignore his craving; apart from this Watson is relying on Holmes to act like a hero.
 However in Victorian times, addiction to cocaine was not considered a bad thing because it was not only Holmes that had a drug addiction. Many men and women had done the same. So despite the addiction to cocaine, viewed through the Victorian perspective, Holmes was still considered a hero. Nevertheless in the 21st century readers would now think differently, because of the development of knowledge, we know how bad cocaine is. Nevertheless, I personally think that through this flaw Conan Doyle cleverly makes the character of Holmes more human and appealing to the reader, Sherlock Holmes’s drug abuse puts the reader in the position of being smarter than the genius Holmes.
To further clarify the opinion that Sherlock Holmes is a hero, we can examine his generous side. Sherlock Holmes is shown not to care about money or fame; he only cares for the mysteries. For instance in “The Speckled Band” Holmes  said “As to reward, my profession is its reward, but you are a liberty to defray whatever expenses I may be put to, at the time which suits you best”. This shows the lighter side of Holmes heart. This also showed that Holmes would help anyone, because even though the victim is poor Sherlock would still help someone in need, which makes him seem even more heroic.
Sherlock Holmes is the sort of person that would treat everyone equally regardless of their social class. Holmes would help any class even though they might be a lower status to him. For example in ‘The noble bachelor’ Holmes delivers a line that demonstrates this “the status of my client is a matter of my less moment to me than the interest of his case”. This shows that Holmes acts like he is unaware that he knows their social class, even though he is a higher class he will still help those less fortunate.  Conan Doyle has made Holmes seem that he has no interest in who they are or their social class. In those times higher social classes would be disgusted with Holmes’s actions, but lower classes would have a different opinion. Normally in Victorian times higher class people would ignore the fact that anyone lower class was even in their presence. Because of this, Sherlock Holmes would seem unusual and enlightened, but in the 21st century he would be seen as a kind man who helps others.
In the exhilarating adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle has also shown the detective’s sensitive side. For example “Do you know Watson… I have really some scruples also to taking you tonight. There is a distinct element of danger.” This shows that Holmes at least cares for Watson because they have been working together for years. Conan Doyle has made Sherlock Holmes seem like a good friend not just a good inspector. This is to make the reader feel more trusting when dealing with Sherlock Holmes. Furthermore, as I have previously explained that Holmes is unemotional and has no interest in anyone, because he cares for Watson this makes the reader realize that he is not as unemotional that he makes himself out to be.
In conclusion I am convinced that Sherlock Holmes is a hero. This is because Arthur Conan Doyle created Holmes for the direct purpose of being a hero. It is true to say that Sherlock Holmes is a character that is arrogant, unemotional and takes cocaine. On the other hand Holmes treats everyone equally so this makes him fairer and wiser than everyone else. I personally think that no-one is perfect and everyone has flaws so Sherlock Holmes would be still classed as a hero.


Submitted: March 17, 2011

© Copyright 2022 MsDanyellow95. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

Other Content by MsDanyellow95