The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Contrasting Regions: London and the Countryside Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Story.Paragraph)
Instead of making friends and exchanging visits with our neighbours, who had at first been overjoyed to see a Roylott of Stoke Moran back in the old family seat, he shut himself up in his house and seldom came out save to indulge in ferocious quarrels with whoever might cross his path (Band.25).
But if the city is a place of mass vice, the countryside is a place of individual nuttiness. Turn to "The Speckled Band" and check out Roylott: he's able, because he's got a lot of power in his village (and because he's really scary) to keep people from prosecuting him for all of his bad behavior there. The isolation of Stoke Moran, and especially of Helen Stoner in her stepfather's house, leaves Roylott's victims without many options for seeking help. Stoner has to travel all the way into London to find a guy to help her out: Sherlock Holmes.
"Yes, our little place is quite out in the country. It is a good seven miles from Eyford Station."
"Then we can hardly get there before midnight. I suppose there would be no chance of a train back. I should be compelled to stop the night" (Thumb.72-3).
"The Engineer's Thumb" presents another isolated house outside of the city of London, which happens to house criminals who are working relatively freely. The farther away the action is from London, the more likely that it involves long-term and secret criminal conspiracy that depends on isolation from other people to get done. Other examples include "The Five Orange Pips" and "The Copper Beeches."
All over the countryside, away to the rolling hills around Aldershot, the little red and grey roofs of the farmsteadings peeped out from amid the light green of the new foliage.
"Are they not fresh and beautiful?" I cried with all the enthusiasm of a man fresh from the fogs of Baker Street.
But Holmes shook his head gravely.
"Do you know, Watson," said he, "that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed here" (Beeches.90-2).
Holmes states his view on the country vs. city debate pretty clearly here. He warns Watson not to be fooled by appearances (not that Holmes is immune from that himself). The lovely farms they're driving past are far enough away from each other and from the police that they can hide terrible abuses, warns Holmes. This passage resonates with one that starts out "A Case of Identity," in which Holmes sounds really happy about the idea of peeling back the roofs of London's homes to explore the strange events behind everyday life. But everyday life that might seem welcoming to Holmes in London then appears threatening in the countryside. What are some factors that might make Holmes feel more at home in London? How do technologies of communication and transportation contribute to Holmes's London experience?