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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Cunning and Cleverness

The very first paragraph of the first story in this collection, "A Scandal in Bohemia," includes the following line: "[Holmes] was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that...

Justice and Judgment

Sherlock Holmes is no Dark Knight: he's not zooming around London dispensing vigilante justice. But he is a private detective, which means that he too doesn't have to obey the rigid rules of police...

Foreignness and 'The Other'

Conan Doyle is writing his Holmes novels and stories at a time when money is pouring into the U.K. from its colonial territories. But with rising capital comes huge anxiety over the social effects...

Admiration

First of all, Sherlock Holmes basically has his own cheering section in the form of Dr. John Watson, a man who has devoted his literary life to following Holmes around and seeing what he does. That...

Drugs and Alcohol

There are two general threads that drugs and alcohol follow in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. First, there are lots and lots of examples of substance abuse ruining lives and destroying otherwis...

Women and Femininity

Women are incredibly vulnerable in Sherlock Holmes's world, from poor Helen Stoner's murdered sister in "The Speckled Band" to Miss Rucastle, locked up by her own family in "The Copper Beeches." Th...

Society and Class

Sherlock Holmes says time and time again that the status of the clients he serves is less important to him than the intrigue of the problems they bring him. And in fact, we see him interacting with...

Literature and Writing

Conan Doyle is an intensely self-conscious writer. Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes often squabble over the value of truth versus fiction and over the ways Watson represents Holmes's work. As a write...

Weakness

Basically, all crime stories are about moral weakness: giving in to temptation, giving in to rage, giving in to the desire for revenge – whatever. But even if weakness is a general theme of t...

Appearances

How many times have you been told not to judge a book by its cover? Well, Sherlock Holmes would say – no, totally, feel free to judge a book by its cover. Or a woman by her clothing (see Mary Sut...

Respect and Reputation

We've mentioned, in our "Character Analysis" of Inspector Lestrade, that the policeman makes a good foil for Sherlock Holmes because he works inside the law while Holmes is a free agent. Holmes get...

Contrasting Regions: London and the Countryside

Holmes loves the city: after all, it's "a hobby of [his] to have an exact knowledge of London" (League.148). The countryside? Not so much. In the scattered households of the countryside, Holmes see...

Technology and Modernization

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 tra...

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