The Roles of Sherlock Holmes in The Speckled Band and The Cardboard Box
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Examining the roles of Sherlock Holmes in two short stories. ‘The
Speckled Band’ and ‘The Cardboard Box.’
I am going to compare both ‘The Speckled Band’ and ‘ The Cardboard
Box’ which are Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle.
‘A Study in Scarlet’ was Arthur Conan Doyle’s first novel, introducing
both characters Holmes and Watson and including how they met. ‘A study
in Scarlet’ was written in three weeks in 1886 and published in 1887.
A.C. Doyle based Sherlock Holmes on Dr Joseph Bell, a surgeon and
teacher he had studied with while attending Edinburgh University. Sir
Henry Littlejohn, who taught forensic medicine to Doyle also made a
large impression and contributed to the development of Holmes’s
character. Dr John Watson a fellow Southsea doctor who served time in
Manchuria received the honour of having Holmes’s partner named after
him. The Strand Newspaper newly founded in 1890 published a series of
short stories called ‘The adventures of Sherlock Holmes.’ From that
point on the public could not get enough of Holmes and his always
reliable, confident, John H Watson, a retired military doctor.
Sherlock Holmes was one of the first fictional detectives ever
created. By 1893 Doyle had tired of Holmes in ‘The Final Problem.’ In
the story Holmes meets Moriarty at the fall of the Reichenbach in
Switzerland and disappears. However public demand brought the return
of Holmes with stories appearing until 1927. A C Doyle gave Sherlock
Holmes 221B Baker Street as his address in the stories which actually
is a real address and is still visited by tourists today.
Sherlock Holmes has a unique way of solving the crimes. He seems to
spot things that others miss “Brown paper with a distinct smell of
coffee.” No one apart from Holmes has yet noticed this, not even
Watson. Holmes has excellent observation skills “You have been cruelly
used said Holmes. The lady coloured deeply and covered her injured
wrist.” Holmes is always looking for clues to unravel the mysteries.
“… A portrait group of three ladies upon the mantelpiece. …Others are
so exceedingly like you that there could be no doubt of the
relationship” here Holmes had observed that the people in the portrait
could be family members making this Miss Cushing the wrong Cushing
In these short stories about Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle tries
to get across the fact that Holmes is better at solving hard mystery
crimes. Holmes came to hear about the cases many ways one of which is
through the Police. When the Police get a case they cannot solve they
go to Holmes for help. “..Our friend Lestrade. I had a note from him
this morning.” Lestrade is a Police Inspector with Scotland Yard and
needs help from Holmes with this case. Holmes only like’s cases which
challenge his intellect “this case is very much in your line” this is
contained in the note sent by Lestrade. Sometimes the cases come to
Sherlock Holmes by past clients “it seems that a young lady has
arrived in a considerable state of excitement.” Here the person
involved has come straight to Holmes so he can solve the mystery
The relationship between Holmes and Watson is strange. To begin with
the readers are under the impression that it is a partnership but this
quickly changed by a few hints “insists upon seeing me.” The person
the client wishes to see is Holmes and not both Holmes and Watson
together. The relationship is also unbalanced as you always hear
Watson go on about our great Holmes is “I had no keener pleasure than
in following Holmes in his professional investigations, and in
admiring the rapid deduction, as swift as intuition.” Here Watson even
said to himself “following Holmes” and that he admires Holmes as well.
Again here “remarkable mental qualities of my friend Sherlock Holmes”
Watson is relaying how much he looks up to Holmes.
Another relationship Sherlock Holmes has is one with the police. This
is also an unfair relationship as Arthur Conan Doyle tried to get
across that Holmes is better than the police “fancy his having the
insolence to confound me with the official detective force!” here
Holmes is a bit concerned with people associating him with the normal
police force and unworthy crimes. “I should prefer that you would not
mention my name at all in connection with the case, as I choose to be
associated only with those crimes which present some difficulty in
their solution.” Here Holmes feels that this case was easy and he
would rather people did not know he solved such a case and humiliate
the police force.
What made Sherlock Holmes so successful was the fact that he did not
work with the police force and the way the police and detectives
actually came to Holmes for help also his characteristics that made
Holmes attractive to the readers were his integrity, sensibility,
rational decisiveness, lack of emotionalism and intellectual
superiority which were measured and reported by Watson. The
relationship between Holmes and Watson are similar to detectives
today. Take Inspector Morse and the relationship he has with Lewis, it
is obvious that Morse is in charge and Lewis is his side kick in a
similar way to Watson. I think that Sherlock Holmes has a unique way
of solving mystery crimes but if the stories were to be brought out
today the crimes would need to be more intense and not so easy to
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