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Themes

There would be no Sherlock Holmes without technology and modernization: without the telegraph service, how would Holmes send his messages in "The Five Orange Pips?" Without trains, how could he travel across the country consulting on cases like "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and "The Engineer's Thumb"? And without modern ocean liners, how would all the travel in these stories – to Australia, to New Zealand, to India, to Mauritius – be possible? Even Holmes's frequent chemical experiments show Conan Doyle's commitment to all that is new-fangled. What's more, the whole idea of the detective is a pretty contemporary notion: looking for clues as a basis for logical reasoning is a concept rooted in modern scientific method.

Questions About Technology and Modernization

  1. How are new communication technologies represented in Conan Doyle's stories? What contributions do they make to the action?
  2. How do new transportation technologies feature in Conan Doyle's stories? How do these developments make Holmes's detective work possible?
  3. In what sense is the detective story a distinctly modern development?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Without modern developments like the telegraph, the train system, and even the London Underground, Holmes would be unable to conduct his cases.

Many of the crimes conducted in the Holmes stories, including "The Five Orange Pips," "The Boscombe Valley Mystery," and "The Speckled Band," come about as a result of improved methods of transportation that have made international travel easy for numerous people.

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