The Heroes Curiosity in She and The Sign of Four Essay

The Heroes Curiosity in She and The Sign of Four Essay

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The Heroes Curiosity in She and The Sign of Four


The hero cannot progress without curiosity.  However, curiosity can turn into a dangerous obsession.  There are many good examples of this throughout Victorian literature.  Literary works such as She by H. Rider Haggard and The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for example, reflect the curious mind at work using scientific exploration to achieve the goal of solving the mystery, but attempting to solve the mystery poses dangers to the protagonists that, at first, they are unaware of.  The curious mind, seeking discovery, eventually sees the dangers but does not turn back.  The mystery has become an obsession to the curious mind, and for the curious mind, solving the mystery has become more important than self-preservation.  However, without the obsessive curiosity and without the danger that follows that curiosity, there would be no heroes in the story and, therefore, no story.  

            There is one immensely popular figure in Victorian literature that uses scientific deduction to solve criminal mysteries, and his curiosity to solve mysteries has become his obsession.  However, he is so cool and distant from his own emotions that he does not care if the obsession leads to his destruction, as long as he solves the mystery to appease his voracious mind first.  The only thing that truly excites him in a passionate way, the one thing that causes any emotion within his cool demeanor, is his curiosity, which is his addiction, for solving mysteries.  He is the hero of the story The Sign of Four, and his name, of course, is Sherlock Holmes.

            Sherlock Holmes is a character that is confident, maybe even arrogant.  He always makes it back after the mystery ...


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...help and protect his adopted son.  These characters, in their seemingly mad obsessive curiosity, show also bravery and nobility in uncovering mysteries.  They do what they do not only for themselves, but for the benefit of others as well, and this is what makes them literary heroes and not mere protagonists.  Another Victorian character who is also driven by curiosity but who is not brave or noble is Dr. Jekyll.  He was obsessively curious about the duality of good and evil in the human soul, but all of his research was for his selfish gain, which ended in his death.  Sherlock Holmes and Ludwig Horace Holly, who at times act selfishly, also do things unselfishly to help others.  That is why they are heroes, and that is one of the reasons why they are popular to this day.  In their case, their curiosity, which turns into dangerous obsession for them, is worth it.  

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