The Science of Deduction in Doyle’s The Sign of Four

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“Deduction” is the word Sherlock Holmes uses to describe the detection skills he possesses. Throughout Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, the reader witnesses his skills in crime solving via detecting, and shares the amazement John Watson feels every time these “deduction moments” occur. However, these moments are not as incredible as they seem, and that “deduction” have been practiced by people that engage in textual practice and close reading.
In order to understand the similarity between Sherlock Holmes’ deduction process and making a close reading, its steps must be examined. The word “deduction” is different than “detection”. “Detection” is the act of finding and discovering, whereas “deduction” is more about finding conclusions and looking for outcomes. This small difference helps reader understand Holmes’ insistence on using the word “deduction”, for which his own article presents and evidence by mentioning “The Sign of Deduction” –which is the name of the first chapter in The Sign of Four; in the first novel, A Study In Scarlet (Doyle 16). He doesn’t merely “detect”, he also calculates and reaches to a conclusion. Moreover, he uses the word “observing”, which is the first step in his deduction process. He observes, calculates and applies logic, then reaches to a conclusion, therefore deducting.
The first step of the deduction process, observing, has two sides as seen in Holmes’ and Watson’s cases. What is similar to the close reading is Holmes’s observing methods, which are more scientific and academically acceptable. As the narrator of the novel, what the reader reads is John Watson’s observations. However, his observing is more subjective than Holmes’ observing. Sherlock observes to gather information and inf...

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... story for this reason, to prove “a hypothesis which covers the facts” (173)to himself and the others. The progress functions the same way in close reading. The reader must present evidences for his inferences to make them more credible and academically acceptable.
As a result, Sherlock Holmes’ crime solving skills are very similar to making a close reading. They both have objective observation, logical appliance and deduction phases, and they both have to present evidences for their claims if they want them to be acceptable by other people.

Works Cited
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir. “The Sign of Four”. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories Volume 1.New York: Bantam Classics, 1986. Print.
Keep, Christopher, and Don Randall. "Addiction, Empire, and Narrative in Arthur Conan Doyle's" The Sign of the Four"." Novel: A Forum on Fiction. Brown University, 1999.
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