Analysis Of The Criminal Body By Ronald R. Thomas

1849 Words8 Pages
The Criminal Body Ronald R. Thomas writes about England’s national needs and interests in the 1890’s and how the literary detective was able to enlighten the nation with the truth about criminals and foreigners. As xenophobia was rising in the country, there was a lot more hostility towards foreigners who were conveniently being described as criminals based on anatomical observations. Havelock Ellis was able to identify who was a criminal with a system he used to study the anatomy of the body based on characteristics of the human body. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories, Doyle reiterated and expanded on many of the interpretations of Ronald R. Thomas and ideas of Havelock Ellis during the Victorian Era.
The first
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To support his claim that specific physical characteristics of a person can reveal his or her identity as a criminal, Thomas uses the plot of both “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Sign of Four” and writes, “The criminal is determined by the detective to be a foreigner by the bodily traces that the suspect leaves at the scene of the crime (a blood stain and a footprint, respectively)” (661). Thomas’s examples provide instances where Sherlock Holmes uses Ellis’ ideas of the study of physiognomy to discover who a criminal was.
Additionally, Thomas could have also explored the idea that not only do the Sherlock Holmes stories provide examples where the criminal is scientifically describable and recognizable, but they provide examples where Holmes uses his detective eye and knowledge of anatomy to identify criminals and victims in each case. For instance, in “The Cardboard Box,” when Holmes is explaining how he determined that the
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In the Sherlock Holme’s stories Eastern and American influence were seen as dangerous and this is shown in “The Man With the Twisted Lip,” when Watson arrives at the drug house and says, “As I entered, a sallow Malay attendant had hurried up with a pipe for me and supply of the drug, beckoning me to an empty berth” (114). The importance of this is Watson describes a sallow, jaundiced look of the Malaysian attendant. The negative connotation Watson uses to describe the Malaysian attendant is directly associated with his race and ethnicity. Furthermore, some of Doyle’s descriptions of foreign characters imply a xenophobic attitude that non-europeans are inferior and often act out of the English norms. For instance, in “The Noble Bachelor,” the noblemen describes his American wife, Miss Doran as, “what we call in England a tomboy, with a strong nature, wild and free, unfettered by any sort of traditions. She is impetuous - volcanic, I was about to say. She is swift in making up her mind and fearless in carrying out her resolutions” (4). In the plot of the Noble Bachelor, Miss Doran runs off on the day of her wedding, causing distress and conflict to the aristocratic groom, Lord Robert St. Simon. In most of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes remains unbiased when conducting an investigation, however the actual conflicts that Doyle wrote
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