Crime Fiction

Sherlock Holmes – Personal Characteristics

As Dr. Watson narrates the stories, he reveals personal details about Holmes. He describes the detective as being eccentric and living outside the box, often doing unconventional things such as hiding his tobacco in the ‘toe end of a Persian slipper.’

Holmes displays a cold, unemotional exterior which Watson has, on occasion, seen a warm heart beneath. He comes alive when investigating a case, however, often even refusing to eat while it is still in progress. The detective’s flair for the dramatic is revealed as he sets elaborate traps to catch criminals, once he has figured out certain elements of the case.

Holmes also uses stimulating drugs, such as cocaine and morphine, most often when he is not working on a case. As a doctor, Watson is concerned about the effects of these drugs on his friend’s mental health and intellectual abilities, and describes it as his only vice. He attempts to stop Holmes from snorting cocaine, but admits that he is an addict in which the condition is only dormant, not permanently eliminated. Watson joins Holmes in his tobacco indulgence, however, with both gentlemen often smoking pipes, cigarettes and cigars.

The detective’s attitude towards women is one of skepticism and mistrust. He genuinely believes that they are the less intelligent gender. Throughout the stories his admiration for Irene Adler is revealed by his constantly referring to her as ‘the woman.’ Ms. Adler outsmarts the detective and slips away before his intentions are fulfilled. Even though she only makes one appearance in Holmes’ stories, Irene Alder has become a well-known and well-loved character for Sherlock Holmes fans everywhere.

Analyzing Evidence, Solving Cases

Holmes’ unconventional manner is also applied to the way in which he solves his cases. Watson admires the extents that he is willing to go to, to achieve the desired results. This includes ‘bending the truth’ and breaking the law. Throughout his career, Holmes has lied to the police, concealed evidence on behalf of clients and even resorts to breaking and entering when necessary. He is also a master of disguises and an amazing actor, transforming himself so convincingly that even Watson is unable to identify him.

Until Dr. Watson moved in with Holmes, the detective worked mostly by himself. He would occasionally employ agents, mainly informants, from the underclass of the city. A master at defending himself, Holmes possesses above average physical strength and used his cane as a weapon on more than one occasion. Both Holmes and Watson carry pistols with them, as many of their cases lead them into dangerous situations.

The Sherlock Holmes stories were written in a time when forensic science was in its initial stages, and fingerprint evidence and handwriting analysis were new tools to help solve cases. Holmes uses this evidence, and often refers to the contamination of the crime scene, which plays a significant role in police becoming more careful in real investigations. An analysis of Holmes’ reasoning capabilities and power of deduction, reveal that his IQ would be about 190. Arthur Conan Doyle truly created a genius.

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