Watson appreciates the test from a chemical point of view, but fails to see any practical utilization of it. His doubts are quickly shattered by Holmes’s explanation of the test’s significance in a crime investigation as he points out that: “had this test been invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long ago have paid the penalty of their crimes” (Doyle, ASIS 16). Given the fact that branches of Forensics medicine such as blood stain pattern analysis or forensics toxicology arose in the second half of the nineteenth century (“forensic medicine”), Holmes is a fictional pioneer of such methods and encouraged their wider employment on practical fields. Watson, who is, as described above, a doctor of medicine and a strong moral authority, helped ‘legalize’ these ideas for the Victorian audience.
The crucial tools of Holmes’s trade are his outstanding observational and deductive faculties or, as he calls it, the Science of Deduction. Watson learns of the method through a monograph written by Holmes called “The Book of Life”. Initially, he finds it a “remarkable mixture of shrewdness and of absurdity” (Doyle, ASIS 30), but his scepticism about the method turns into a profound and genuine admiration as he sees Holmes putting the theory into practice. The real use of his methods is presented while investigated a Brixton murder of Enoch Drebber which becomes a centre plot of the book. By a detailed examination of the crime scene and its surroundings, focusing on all available traces such as footprints, appearance of the dead body or the ubiquitous presence of blood stains, Holmes is able to prove that the deceased arrived at the scene “as friendly as possible - arm in arm” (Doyle, ASIS 63) with a companion to fall victim to a deadly poison. His evidence-based and scientific conclusions are in sharp contrast to the groundless theory built by Inspector Tobias Gregson of Scotland Yard that implies that the victim’s death was a result of “a blow from the stick in the stomach” (Doyle, ASIS 100) after which the murderer dragged the motionless body of Drebber to the place where it was later discovered. Thus, Doyle offers a direct confrontation of Holmes’s rational judgment with an irrational and rather random assumption of the official police force. By endowing Holmes with almost inhuman abilities, Doyle is allowed to cast a shadow over the outdated crime investigation methods of the Scotland Yard. Scott-Zechlin asserts that: “his (Holmes’s) incredible rational mind entitles him to openly criticize the police in a way no average citizen ever would” (58). Not only does Holmes’s scientific approach bring the right man to justice, but it also saves the wrongly accused Lieutenant Arthur Charpentier from a death penalty.
The background of the Enoch Drebber’s murder case takes readers to the North American continent. In the second part of the book titled The Country of the Saints, Doyle tells a story of love and revenge closely connected to a religious group of Mormons. Jefferson Hope, an American silver explorer and a ranchman, dedicates his life to revenge of deaths of his beloved Lucy Ferrier and her father John who paid their lives for turning backs to the Mormon religion. Doyle depicts Mormons as oppressive villains and thus points out the danger of organized religious groups. More importantly, however, he signifies that the Brixton murder is only a tip of the iceberg while the roots of the evil come from a culture that is unknown to British citizens. Christopher Routledge states that: “Victorian readers living in many of Britain’s large cities were afraid of street crime, drunkenness, and seemingly random acts of violence, much of which was blamed on ‘foreigners’”. By extending the story beyond the Brixton murder, Doyle emphasizes the greater dangers arriving on Britain’s shores.
These dangers and threats coming from cultures and places alien to British citizens are also embodied in a use of poison as a murder weapon. The one that kills Enoch Drebber was “extracted from some South American arrow” (Doyle, ASIS 214). This theme re-appears in Doyle’s later Sherlock Holmes stories. It, for example, takes a form of a swamp adder, “the deadliest snake in India” (Doyle, TASH 67) causing terror in Stoke Moran in The Adventure of the Speckled Band or the deadly substance of the Devil’s foot root, an “ordeal poison used by the medicine-men in certain districts of West Africa” (Doyle, TADF 53), which is responsible for several seemingly mysterious deaths in The Adventure of The Devil’s Foot.
Thanks to addressing new threads and fears that the British society of the late nineteenth century struggled to face, Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet is much more than “just” a detective story. It introduces Sherlock Holmes, a man about town who guards the changing metropolis and lightens its dark and foggy streets.
4.3. Scarlet Turns Pink
Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat revived the famous detective in A Study in Pink which opens the first season of Sherlock TV series. The plot of the episode is loosely based on Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, but it also makes several allusions to other stories of Doyle’s original canon. The first scene introduces John Watson as a damaged young man suffering from nightmares following his duties in the War in Afghanistan. Up to this point, it clearly resembles its literary model, but the opening credits that follow manifest that Sherlock has moved in time. Viewers are exposed to images of London’s traditional landmarks such as Big Ben, Westminster or the Thames, but also the iconic 30 St Mary Axe skyscraper known informally as “the Gherkin”, London Eye or lights and screen of Piccadilly Circus. This, accompanied by heavy traffic, evokes an atmosphere of a modern, technology-driven city - London of the twenty-first century. The wind of time carried away the ‘Victorian fog’ with its dangers, but the ‘new’ London is not as safe and spotless as it might seem. The authors update the stories of Sherlock Holmes in an entertaining manner, but do not neglect to address topical social and political issues of the modern society.
The title of the episode derives from Doyle’s writing, but the ‘colour adjustment’ implies that Sherlock reincarnates to protect different values than his Victorian model. The colour pink, being a symbol of homosexuality, refers to the ambiguous relationship between Sherlock and John. Even though John occasionally dates women and Sherlock considers himself “married to his work” (ASIP), the possibility of the two being in a gay relationship is suggested throughout the whole series. In the scene where Sherlock explains his train of thoughts as to how he has come to a conclusion about John family’s ‘skeleton in the cupboard’ after a short examination of his mobile phone, he gets all things right except for the fact that “Harry’s short for Harriet” (ASIP) - John’s homosexual sister. The line is an allusion to Sherlock Holmes’s analysis of Dr. Watson’s watch from The Sign of Four by Conan Doyle. By altering the sex of John’s sibling and her sexual orientation, the authors present London of the twenty-first century as a heterogeneous place and support the British society’s increasing acceptance of homosexuality. Sherlock reacts to the flaw in his analysis by saying that: “There is always something” (ASIP) suggesting the idea of the ever-changing world he lives in. Anne Kustritz and Melanie E.S. Kohnen argue that: “people like Harriet defy even increasingly heterogeneous social norms and thus upset Sherlock’s carefully crafted idea of the world around him” (86).
In addition to the above mentioned acceptance of diverse sexual preferences, the series touches an issue of gender equality. The most shining example of that is a character of Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock and John no longer receive the hotel-like treatment as their Doyle’s predecessors used to enjoy as she becomes an owner of their Baker Street shelter. It frees her of any house-keeping obligations that were so characteristic of her original character. “I'm your landlady, dear, not your housekeeper” (ASIP), says she in a very convincing manner when the two move in, setting stern rules of their domicile. The authors also introduce ‘non-canonical’ characters such as Detective Sergeant Sally Donovan or a pathologist Molly Harper, both occupying positions that were strictly male in Doyle’s time. Thus, the female sex in Sherlock is not completely eclipsed and predominated by Irene Adler.
The reflection of the modern society is also noticeable in depiction of Sherlock’s vices. The drugs bust in Baker Street reminds viewers of his weakness for ‘stimulant substances’ and Sherlock’s initial reaction hints that the suspicions are well founded. The very next moment, however, he claims that: “I am clean, I don’t even smoke” (ASIP), showing his arm covered in nicotine patches. A three pipe problem of The Red Headed League becomes a three patch problem in A Study in Pink as it is “impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days” (ASIP) referring to a smoking ban in England that came into force in 2007. In this respect, the authors redefine Sherlock as a role model for his audience. On the other hand, the detective without his characteristic pipe symbolizes the reduction of civil liberties that comes as a drawback to restrictions such as the above mentioned ban.
Speaking of Sherlock and his vices, the series strongly accentuates his personality. In a sense, the “high functioning sociopath” (ASIP), as he calls himself, perfectly fits Doyle’s concept of the “the most perfect reasoning and observing machine” (Doyle, TASH 2). His great deductive and observational skills combine with a practical use of the latest modern technology such as smartphones and laptops. In contrast, he is completely lacking any social skills when interacting with people. Not surprisingly, Scotland Yard police officers call him “freak” or a “psychopath” (ASIP) as his strictly utilitarian approach to people does not necessarily make him a likeable character. Scott Zechling points out that, given Sherlock’s personality flaws, his massive intellect is “the only worthwhile thing about him”(60). Sherlock shows his anti-social behaviour shortly after his entrance into the series, when he cruelly disregards obvious hints of Molly Hooper’s affections. Later he introduces a skull as ‘his friend’ and his peculiarity peaks when he does not comprehend why a mother would still be upset about her daughter’s death when “that was ages ago” (ASIP). He has inherited the genuine fascination by crime from his Doyle’s predecessor, yet he seems to miss his sense for right and wrong. When told about the fourth suicide, he bursts with excitement: “Brilliant! Yes, four serial suicides and now a note. Oh, it's Christmas. Mrs Hudson, I'll be late” (ASIP), showing absolutely no respect to the victims. The authors of Sherlock emphasise that the detective’s incredible scientific rationality comes at the expense of his social skills. In other words, Sherlock is ‘too clever’ to live a ‘normal’ life.
The more Sherlock struggles with human interaction, the more he needs his Watson. John is the embodiment of professional skills, loyalty and bravery. As such, he lives up to the “strong moral principle” (ASIP) of Doyle’s model. He also happens to be a “very good doctor” (ASIP), who struggles to find a job. Thus, he can be seen as a symbol of the recent economy crisis and its side effects. Toadvine asserts that: “Given 21st century concerns of a difficult economy and returning from a war zone, John represents economic and emotional instability familiar to many in the audience” (55). Nevertheless, John’s role goes much further than simply being a stand-in and identifier for the audience. His new mission is to socialize Sherlock and restrain the absolute dominance of rationality in his behaviour. On one hand, he deeply admires Sherlock’s scientific mindset, but on the other, he suggests that there is more to life than chasing villains using his intellectual powers. His efforts are obvious, for example, in the following conversation during which John puts ‘real life’ against Sherlock’s ‘scientific universe.’
JW: In real life. There are no arch-enemies in real life. Doesn’t happen. SH: Doesn’t it? Sounds a bit dull. JW: So who did I meet? SH: What do real people have, then, in their “real lives”? JW: Friends? Or people they know, people they like, people they don’t like Girlfriends, boyfriends. SH: Yeah, well, as I was saying, dull.
John somewhat refuses the inferior role in the relationship as he guides Sherlock through the labyrinth of social interactions just as Sherlock guides him through the streets of the metropolis. Inspector Lestrade, too, clearly calls for a ‘more human’ Sherlock when he remarks that: “Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day, if we’re very, very lucky, he might even be a good one” (ASIP). By underlining Sherlock’s personality traits, mainly his social incompetence, the series proposes an idea that a pure reliance upon rationality and science might not be an impeccable concept after all.
A Study in Pink also shows the double-edged sword of the ever-present use of technology. It portrays Sherlock as a digital-native who express his intelligence by an enormously effective and extensive utilization of the latest technological advances. His main aid is, undoubtedly, a smartphone. Quite symbolically, Sherlock enters the series through a text message. Just after Inspector Lestrade claims that: “We are all as safe as we want to be” (ASIP), during a press conference related to a series of suicides in London, all participants received a text stating just “Wrong” (ASIP). This opening message presents Sherlock as a superior guardian of London as well as it shows his considerable skills in a use of smartphones and modern technologies in general. Later in the story, he employs his smartphone while examining the crime scene. By filtering and gathering available data, he arrives at conclusions so different from those of the Metropolitan Police officers. The absence of a mobile phone on the body helps Sherlock to figure out that apparent suicides are actually murders. Thanks to recovering the victim’s email account password, he is able to track the missing phone, of which he believes to be in the murderer’s possession. Again, the official force fails to see these links as Anderson, a member of the forensic team, remarks that: “So we can read her e-mails. So what?” to which Sherlock answers:” We can do much more than just read her e-mails. It’s a smartphone, it’s got GPS, which means if you lose it, you can locate it online. She’s leading us directly to the man who killed her” (ASIP). At the end of the story, John’s intervention saves Sherlock’s life. It is only thanks to the ability to track the stolen phone that John can locate Sherlock’s whereabouts when he drives off with the murderer. In this regard, such use of modern technology helps solve crime and saves lives. On the other hand, it brings up a concern about its impact on civil liberties as it clearly shows that technology allow us to track people’s movement.
The thin line between technology being a good servant and a bad master is even more apparent in the scene when Mycroft Holmes watches John’s movement with a help of CCTV security cameras, demonstrating that ‘anything’ can happen when the cameras ‘are not watching’. He also upgrades the surveillance status of John and Sherlock as he is concerned about their safety. Showing cameras as ‘eyes of justice’ watching over London advocates the use of technology in crime prevention and investigation. At the same time, however, the man in control of the surveillance is described as: “the British government, when he’s not too busy being the British Secret Service, or the CIA on a freelance basis” (ASIP). On top of that, Mycroft happens to be Sherlock’s ‘big brother’. Such allusions suggest that a prophecy of a nation under an omnipresent governmental surveillance from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four (1949) is being fulfilled.
Just as Doyle’s premier novel of the canon, A Study in Pink stretches beyond a simple crime story. It opens a dialogue about equality, importance of humanity as well as impact of technology on mankind. It meets Sherlock’s pure rationality at its best while at the same time it questions the importance of its absolute dominance.
5. The Rise and Fall of Sherlock Holmes
5.1. The Final Problem
In 1893, only six years after Sherlock’s ‘scarlet debut’ in The Strand, Dr. Watson breaks bad news to the growing fandom of Sherlock Holmes. “It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes was distinguished. (Doyle, TMSH 409). In the story aptly called The Final Problem, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson runs through the old continent before the former meets his destiny at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became tired of his famous creation. Therefore, he gave Sherlock Holmes his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, and closed the first chapter of his fruitful mission.
Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat bring their Sherlock on the edge of St. Bartholomew’s hospital roof at the end of Sherlock second season’s final episode called Reichenbach Fall. After making his last phone call to John, he throws himself into a street to solve his final problem. John bursts into tears as he mumbles that: “Sher, my best friend Sherlock Holmes is dead” (RF). While Doyle’s Holmes met his end for the sake of his creator’s higher writing aspirations, Sherlock’s supposed suicide is an ultimate sacrifice in a bid to save his beloved. This time, however, the authors assure their audience that Sherlock has not said his last word yet.
The following two subchapters analyze The Final Problem and Reichenbach Fall from the cultural and social perspective. They examine the characters of Professor Moriarty and Jim Moriarty, their roles in the stories and the dangers that these two characters define. Furthermore, this part of the thesis looks into the reasons and the aftermath of the detectives’ falls and tries to identify the symbolism of their apparent deaths.
5.2 Sherlock Holmes is Dead
In the context of the nineteenth-century literary world, Sherlock Holmes became Doyle’s Frankenstein, a monster that turns upon its creator. Holmes’s growing fame completely dwarfed Doyle’s other literary efforts. With this in mind, he wrote The Final Problem. Despite it being a short story, it is one of a significant importance. While Doyle was writing stories of Holmes between 1887 and 1927, spanning Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian eras, his famous detective is closely associated only with the former. Symbolically, The Final Problem is the last story featuring Sherlock Holmes that Doyle actually wrote in Victorian Era as the revival of the detective in The Adventure of the Empty House came in 1902, one year after Queen Victoria’s death. Doyle’s fictional Victorian London became clearly a better and safer place after Holmes’s last challenge, but the views of the author were not shared by many of the audience. The aftermath of the character’s withdrawal perfectly accounts for the popularity that Sherlock Holmes enjoyed at the time. “Popular outcry against the demise of Holmes was great; men wore black mourning bands, the British royal family was distraught, and more than 20,000 readers cancelled their subscriptions to the popular Strand Magazine, in which Holmes regularly appeared” (“Sherlock Holmes”). The huge public outcry the story caused is by no means the only reason of its prominence. The Final Problem also introduces the ultimate villain of Doyle’s work. Professor Moriarty, Holmes’s main antagonist, is a character that has become an indivisible feature of the original canon and its followers.
In two novels and twenty two short stories written prior to The Final Problem, Holmes has dealt with a vast number of villains, none of which has come anywhere near to match his mental powers – with a single exception of Irene Adler - let alone to kill him. That is when Professor Moriarty enters the scene. Doyle’s Moriarty is a mathematical genius, “a man of good birth and excellent education” that combines with “hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind” (Doyle, TMSH 414). By assigning the nature of Moriarty’s evil mind to heredity, Doyle underlines his support of the new scientific approach to genetics. Professor’s devilish personality fits perfectly with Holmes’s remark from The Greek Interpreter when he says that:” Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest form” (Doyle, TMSH 306).
Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty are referred to as “the foremost champion of the law” and “the most dangerous criminal” (Doyle, TMSH 442) respectively. They are two intellectual equals, with dissimilar moral qualities or, as Steven Doyle argues: “Whereas Holmes brings peace and safety to the world, Moriarty fills it with terror and tragedy” (129). The existence of one requires the existence of the other. When Holmes talks about Moriarty in The Final Problem, he explains that: “If I could beat that man, if you I could free society of him, I should feel that my own career had reached its summit, and I should be prepared to turn to some more placid line in life” (Doyle, TMSH 413). Thus suggesting that if the world is rid of Professor Moriarty and the evil he defines, there is no need for Holmes’s guidance anymore. By killing the two together at the Reichenbach Falls, Doyle makes sure that Holmes does not die by the hand of an inferior enemy as well as that London without Professor Moriarty will not suffer from Holmes’s permanent absence.
The augur of Holmes’s forthcoming redundancy is also apparent in the nature of his relationship with Dr. Watson. No longer is the latter the lonesome and confused gentleman who sought protection in A Study in Scarlet. Over the course of ten years since the two met, Dr. Watson left Baker Street to become a married man running his own medical practice. As he states in the beginning of The Final Problem: “the very intimate relations which had existed between Holmes and myself became to some extent modified” (Doyle, TMSH 410). Their constant companionship is reduced to a few cases a year. The vanishing need for Holmes’s presence in Dr. Watson’s life is a sign of his weakening importance for society. Two years after the Reichenbach Falls incident, Dr. Watson writes his reminiscence to clear Holmes’s name and disregard what he calls “an absolute perversion of the facts” (Doyle, TMSH 410), published in the public press. In the text he conveys the message of Holmes’s legacy: “I (Holmes) have not lived wholly in vain, the air of London is the sweeter for my presence” (Doyle, TMSH 434), summarizing Holmes duty as a guardian of London and its citizens. In The Final Problem, Doyle brings Holmes’s mission to a sudden and, perhaps, premature end. At the bottom of the Reichenbach Falls, the world loses its biggest threat as well as “the best and the wisest man” (Doyle, TMSH 442), whom Watson has ever known.
5.3. Long Live Sherlock
The closing episode of the second series of Sherlock starts off with John’s appointment with his therapist. Full of emotions, he can hardly find words to express his sadness over the loss of his companion. After the opening credits, authors take viewers back in time to account for what preceded John’s grief. Reichenbach Fall finds Sherlock in the limelight and shows him as a celebrity attracting attention of the tabloid press. Yet “every fairytale needs a good old-fashioned villain” (RF) and Sherlock’s ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ come to an end with a return of his nemesis. The title of the episode makes an obvious allusion to the place where Doyle temporarily ended the canonical life of Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem, but the circumstances of Sherlock’s fall differ substantially from those in the original text.
Unlike Doyle’s Professor Moriarty, who surfaces out of nowhere to terminate Holmes’s mission, his contemporary counterpart enjoys a wider attention as he plays a significant role throughout the whole series. In order to have a closer look on the character, it makes sense to take a brief trip back to the very first episode. At the end of A Study in Pink, Moriarty is vaguely introduced as a fan of Sherlock and a sponsor of serial killings. The following episode, The Blind Banker, suggests that he is a brain of a secret international organization of smugglers and only the final scene of The Great Game gives the name its bearer.
His enigmatic appearance throughout the first series leaves space for imagination as he is referred to as “more than a man” or “an organisation” (ASIP) while there is “never any real contact, just messages, whispers” (TGG). In fact, Jim Moriarty, who is played by a well-known Irish actor Andrew Scott, turns out to be a young, well dressed man with a genius mind and strong sense of aesthetics. His character combines the ruthlessness of Professor Moriarty and the decadent genius of Holmes. Ellen Burton Harrington argues that: “While Conan Doyle’s Holmes is a recognizably decadent figure, Sherlock’s Moriarty seems to resemble the fin de siècle aesthete more than Sherlock” (71). Through the Wildean depiction of Moriarty who thinks of crime as a form of art, the authors revive the aesthetic spirit of the original texts and subscribe to the view of Thomas De Quincey from his essay On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts that: “Like Aeschylus or Milton in poetry, like Michelangelo in painting, he (the great murderer) has carried his art to a point of colossal sublimity” (12).
Apart from Holmes’s aestheticism, Jim Moriarty also borrows his mastery of disguise. This allows him to drag Sherlock into his deadly game and yet put back their direct confrontation. In A Study in Pink, he wins Sherlock’s attention with a help from Jeff Hope, later in The Great Game, he seduces Molly Harper to make a first direct contact as Jim who “works in IT upstairs” (TGG). Ultimately, he speaks to Sherlock through voices of innocent suicide bombers. Images of these bombers in the streets of London resemble recent fears of terrorist attacks and allow authors to update Moriarty as a new a symbol of terror. The last scene of The Great Game shows John covered in explosives which, to paraphrase Harrington, suggests that John brings his wartime experience back to London (71). Just as Doyle’s Moriarty, the character of Jim gets another dimension and serves as embodiment of a greater evil and fears that the audience recognize and relate to.
The climax of Jim Moriarty’s plot comes in Reichenbach Fall when he attacks the very heart of Britain. He consecutively breaks into the “the three of most secure places in the country” (RF), the Tower of London, the Bank of England, and Pentonville Prison. The scene that shows “Irish born Moriarty – of no fixed abode” (RF), sitting on the throne, wearing the crown implies that the terror Jim Moriarty represents poses a threat to the fundamental values of Britishness. Sherlock is once again ready to restore the order, but the surprising twist in the following trial sets Jim Moriarty free and clears his path to bring imminent discredit upon Sherlock.
The press dubs Sherlock the ‘Reichenbach hero’ after his recovery of Turner’s masterpiece The Falls of Reichenbach. It also points out that he is “frequently seen in a company of bachelor John Watson” (RF). While Sherlock’s tabloid nickname gives a nod to the settings of Doyle’s original story, his connection with “confirmed bachelor” (RF), keeps the idea of the two being gay alive. The involvement of media in the final battle between Sherlock and Jim Moriarty is not a completely new theme as Doyle’s Dr. Watson wrote his reminiscence of the events that led to Holmes’s death at the Reichenbach Falls ‘only’ to rectify Holmes’s reputation damaged by a newspaper article. In Sherlock, however, the media takes even a greater role as they are directly responsible for Sherlock’ rise in fame while at the same time, they serve as a main device in Jim Moriarty’s plan for Sherlock’s fall. Kitty Riley, an investigative journalist, offers Sherlock her help in exchange for an exclusive interview: “There's all sorts of gossip in the press about you. Sooner or later, you're going to need someone on your side, someone to set the record straight” (RF). The “all sorts of gossip”, sustain the undertone of Sherlock’s possible homosexuality. Furthermore, it shows the great power of media. As Jim Moriarty puts it: “I read it in the paper so it must be true. I love newspapers”, Sherlock presents media as powerful opinion and influence makers.
Apart from the above mentioned themes that contribute to the overall message of the series, the strong focus of Reichenbach Fall is also on Sherlock’s personality. The more public attention Sherlock receives the more social interactions he gets involved in. This allows authors to expose both his intellectual powers and complete lack of social skills to the full extent. Sherlock seems to be trapped in his almost autistic rationality as his constant displaying of an extraordinary cleverness lets him down when dealing with people around him. It stars with seemingly small things as Sherlock cold-heartedly turns down gifts from grateful clients and it ends with his being put in jail for contempt of court during the ‘Moriarty case’. Sherlock’s words from The Great Game that he would be lost without his blogger fulfil as John actively continues with his socializing mission. He is always there to smooth over Sherlock’s social blunders and offer his guidance. The dynamics between the two are nicely captured in the following conversation that comes prior to Sherlock’s arrest:
Watson: Remember what they told you. Don't try to be clever.
Watson: and please just keep it simple and brief.
Sherlock: I'm confident a star witness at a trial should come across as intelligent.
Watson: Intelligent, fine. Let's give smartass a wide berth.
Sherlock: I'll just be myself.
Watson: Are you listening to me? (RF)
John’s voice becomes a call for ordinariness and his consistent and devoted presence distinguishes Sherlock from Jim Moriarty who lacks faith in humanity whatsoever. Moriarty is a bearer of the Victorian view that science and rationality as new metaphysics cannot coexist with faith while Sherlock with John on his side walks on the edge of restoring the balance between the two. Scott Zechlin assert that: “Sherlock has John Watson there to keep him human, with the doctor’s presence preventing him from turning into a similarly omnipotent figure, completely isolated from all human kindness” (63). In this respect, Sherlock’s final problem becomes a dilemma whether to stay alive and solve his biggest case or ‘die’ and protect those who cared about him. By choosing the latter option during the final roof scene, Sherlock exposes his weakness – faith in John – and decides to leave the world as a good man rather than live as a great one. He leaves the world just as he entered it, through a mobile phone. Sherlock make his last phone call to John: “This phone call – it’s, it’s my note. It’s what people do, don’t they – leave a note?” (RF) before he jumps off the St. Bartholomew hospital’s roof.
This time, there are no black armbands and people in the streets as the authors of Sherlock reveal that the detective only faked his suicide while John tells his last word to Sherlock at his grave: “I didn’t even think you were human, but let me tell you this: you were the best man, and the most human human being that I’ve ever known” (RF). Sherlock’s assumed death in Reichenbach Fall clearly does not terminate his mission as a saviour, but completes John’s duty of shaping the new Sherlock.
Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet reflects the state of the British society at the turn of the century tackling issues such as flaws in justice system, social injustice and the insufficiency of the official police force stressing out their outdated investigation methods and a complete reliance upon groundless assumptions rather than reason and science. As a detective story, it introduces new dangers and threats that came as a side effect of the increasing immigration into Britain. Sherlock Holmes steps in as a detective who is able to bring order to this period of change.
The spirit of the changing face of the British is captured by setting the novel as well as the majority of other Sherlock Holmes stories to its very heart, the streets of London. Doyle lets Holmes speak to readers through the voice of Dr. Watson who represents the Victorian moral authority and gaps the bridge between the readers and progressive ideas and views embodied in the character of Sherlock Holmes. Watson’s return from the war in the British colonies symbolizes the arrival of the unknown cultures and the dangers they represent at the shores of Great Britain.
The novel prefigures Holmes’s mission as a new restorer of order and the last instance of justice. In A Study in Scarlet and the stories that followed, Sherlock Holmes keeps guard over the metropolis bringing its villain to justice. His message of superiority of science and rationality paves the way for the era of technology that was knocking on Britain’s door. While Sherlock Holmes was able to offer a mental shelter to Dr. Watson and his fellow countrymen, he could not, eventually, escape a threat posed by his own creator.
The end of the famous detective comes in The Final Problem. To do away with Holmes, Doyle creates his evil twin Professor Moriarty, the dark side of the world that Sherlock Holmes lightens with his presence. The death of the two symbolizes the end of the turmoil in which the British society was thrown at the time of Holmes’s literary birth. On the one hand, The Final Problem closed one chapter of Holmes’s life. On the other hand, it catapulted him into eternal stardom thanks to numerous adaptations and pastiches that followed.
The BBC TV Series Sherlock updates Doyle’s characters for the twenty-first century. Although the series makes allusions and references to the original texts rather than strictly follow their plots, it manages to maintain the social and political subtext that is characteristic of Doyle’s writing. Sherlock as depicted by Gattis and Moffat has evolved with the world around him. He leaves the Victorian metropolis with its problems behind to enter the modern London to face up to the new threats and dangers. The new social norms of the society allow authors to develop and play with the idea of Sherlock and John being homosexual. Thus, the ambiguity of the characters becomes one of the major themes to the whole series. It also reflects the modern views on gender equality and the role of women in society. Thanks to the gender diversity of characters, Sherlock is no longer ‘men’s world’ only. Although they appear to be completely new themes, they, in fact, mirror the social injustice that Doyle accentuated in the canon.
Just as Dr. Watson in A Study in Scarlet, John in Sherlock symbolically brings the terror to London as he returns from the war campaign. The ideas of hijacking airplanes or images of suicide bombers in the streets of London disturbingly titillate the current audience as it enlivens the deep-seated fears of terrorist attacks that have become a constant threat for Britain of the twenty-first century. Sherlock updates the dangers as well as the greater power behind them and promote the character of Moriarty from a mere narrative device to the essential component of the series. While Doyle created James Moriarty to kill Holmes, Sherlock’s Jim Moriarty and his ceaseless presence in the stories play an important role in shaping the character of the detective.
Sherlock himself remains faithful to Doyle’s Holmes as he combines the scientific and rational mind and the use of the most modern technology. However, it is mainly through this character how the authors of Sherlock suggest that the absolute reliance on science, so much advocated for in Doyle’s work, seems to be reaching a dead end. This thesis argues that while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created his Holmes to offer guidance on the road to the era of technology, Sherlock shows us where the blind faith in science and technology may lead to. The message is conveyed not only by showing Sherlock as a social outcast but also by presenting the double edge sword of technology. The pure rationality kills humanity and while the omnipresent use of technology contributes greatly to the quality of people’s lives and their safety, it also jeopardizes their rights to privacy. It also points out that the concepts of greater good such as smoking bans or the camera system surveillance come with downsides as they reduce civil liberties.
A Study in Scarlet depicts the beginning of Holmes’s journey during which he shapes the world around him. His journey comes to an end in The Final Problem in which he dies as the wisest man who sacrifices himself for a better world. A Study in Pink commences the process of shaping a new Sherlock that leads to his revival in Reichenbach Fall in which Sherlock gets reborn as the most human being. In this respect, Doyle’s Holmes was born to create a better world while the authors of Sherlock use the character of the consulting detective to create a better man.
7. Works Cited
7.1. Primary Sources
“A Study in Pink.” Sherlock: Season one. Writ. Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis. BBC Worldwide, 2010. DVD. (ASIP)
Doyle, Arthur C. A Study in Scarlet. The Complete Sherlock Holmes and Tales of Terror and Mystery. The Complete Works Collection, 2012. Kindle ebook file. (ASIS)
---. His Last Bow. [Auckland, N.Z.]: Floating Press, 2009. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 17 Oct. 2013. (HLB)
---. The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot. The Complete Works Collection, 2012. Kindle ebook file. (TADF)
---. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The Complete Works Collection, 2012. Kindle ebook file. (TASH)
---. The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes. [Auckland, N.Z.]: Floating Press, 2009. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 17 Oct. 2013. (TMSH)
---. The Return Of Sherlock Holmes. [Auckland]: Floating Press, 2010. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 17 Oct. 2013. (TRSH)
“The Blind Banker.” Sherlock: Season one. Writ. Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis. BBC Worldwide, 2010. DVD. (TBB)
“The Great Game.” Sherlock: Season one. Writ. Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis. BBC Worldwide, 2010. DVD. (TGG)
“The Reichenbach Fall.” Sherlock: Season two. Writ. Stephen Thomson. BBC Worldwide, 2012. DVD. (RF)
7.2. Secondary Sources
Adams, Cynthia. "Chapter Four: The Birth Of Sherlock Holmes." Mysterious Case Of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1999): 32. Literary Reference Center. Web. 26 July 2013.
“Arthur Conan Doyle Biography.” Bio. True Story Web. 26 Jul. 2013
"British Empire." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 06 Oct. 2013.
De Quincey, Thomas. On Murder Considered As One Of The Fine Arts : And Other Writings. [Auckland]: Floating Press, 2012. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 26 Oct. 2013.
"detective story." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 26 Jul. 2013.
Doyle, Steven, and David A. Crowder. Sherlock Holmes For Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 30 Sept. 2013.
Ellis, Sian. "In the Trail of Sherlock Holmes." British Heritage 34.2 (2013): 28- 33.Academic Search Alumni Edition. Web. 26 July 2013.
"forensic medicine." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
Graham, Anissa M., and Jennifer C. Garlen. "Sex And The Single Sleuth." Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century: Essays on New Adaptations. 24-34. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 28 Sept. 2013.
Harrington, Ellen Burton. "Terror, Nostalgia, And The Pursuit Of Sherlock Holmes In Sherlock." Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom: Essays on the BBC Series. 70-84. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 26 Oct. 2013.
McCaw, Neil. Adapting Detective Fiction: Crime, Englishness And The TV Detectives. London: Continuum, 2011. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 28 Sept. 2013.
Panek, LeRoy Lad. Before Sherlock Holmes : How Magazines And Newspapers Invented The Detective Story. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2011. Discovery eBooks. Web. 23 July. 2013.
Pittard, Christopher. Victorian Detective Fiction: An Introduction. Crimeculture, 2003. Web. 23 July, 2013.
Rollyson, Carl E. Critical Survey Of Mystery And Detective Fiction. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2008. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 26 July 2013.
Scott-Zechlin, Ariana. "'But It's The Solar System!' Reconciling Science And Faith Through Astronomy." Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom: Essays on the BBC Series. 56-69. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 9 Oct. 2013.
Shpayer-Makov, Haia. "Revisiting The Detective Figure In Late Victorian And Edwardian Fiction: A View From The Perspective Of Police History." Law, Crime & History 1.2 (2011): 165. Associates Programs Source Plus. Web. 26 July 2013.
“Sherlock Holmes." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
“Sherlock Holmes Online.” The Official Web Site of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. Web. 15 Nov 2013.
"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 26 Jul. 2013.
"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." 2013. The Biography Channel website. Web. 26 Jul. 2013
Toadvine, April. "The Watson Effect: Civilizing The Sociopath." Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century: Essays on New Adaptations. 48-64. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 15 June 2013.
„The Era of Sherlock Holmes.“ Masterpiece Theatre. Web 20 June 2013.
"The Moonstone." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
Verevis, Constantine, and Kathleen Loock. Film Remakes, Adaptations And Fan Productions: Remake/Remodel. [Basingstoke]: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 29 Sept. 2013.
Appendix: List of Abbreviations
ASIP “A Study in Pink”
ASIS “A Study in Scarlet”
HLB. “His Last Bow”
RF “Reichenbach Fall”
TADF “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot”
TASH “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”
TGG. “The Great Game”
TMSH.. “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes”
TRSH“The Return of Sherlock Holmes”
Resume – English
This paper aims to offer an introduction to Sherlock Holmes, the most famous creation of the Scottish writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and to bring a comparative analysis of Doyle’s original texts and TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as John Watson.
The first part of the thesis presents a cultural survey of Doyle’s predecessors as it looks into the history of modern detective fiction and the social conditions that powered the development of the genre during the nineteenth century. Furthermore, it continues with an overview of the life and work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The rest of the first part is dedicated to the character of Sherlock Holmes, the basic premises of the Holmes stories, other essential characters and the most notable TV and film adaptations.
The second part of the thesis offers a comparative analysis of Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet and The Final Problem and Sherlock episodes A Study in Pink and Reichenbach Fall. The main focus is put on social and political subtexts in both Doyle’s stories and the Sherlock series. The thesis analyses and compares views on rationality and progressive ideas of science carried in the works in question. It also examines how Doyle’s texts and Sherlock reflect societies in which both Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock live.
Resume – Česky
Tato práce si klade za cíl představit dílo skotského spisovatele Sira Arthura Conana Doyla, obsahující postavu detektiva Sherlocka Holmese. Dále pak nabízí
srovnávací analýzu původních Doylových textů a televizního seriálu společnosti BBC Sherlock, kde hlavní role Sherlocka a Johna Watsona ztvárnili Benedict Cumberbatch a Martin Freeman.
První část této práce obsahuje kulturní přehled Doylových předchůdců, nahlíží na počátky moderní detektivky a zmiňuje sociální podmínky, které pomohly vzniku tohoto žánru během 19. století. Práce pokračuje pohledem na život a dílo Sira Arthura Conana Doyla. Zbytek první části je věnován postavě Sherlocka Holmese, základním prvkům Holmesových příběhů, dalším důležitým postavám a zásadním filmovým a televizním adaptacím.
Druhá část této práce obsahuje srovnávací analýzu Doylových příběhů A Study in Scarlet a The Final Problem a dvou epizod seriálu Sherlock, konkrétně A Study in Pink a Reichenbach Fall. Hlavní důraz je kladen na sociální a politický podtext v Doylově knižní předloze i její televizní adaptaci. Ve své práci se snažím analyzovat a srovnávat pohledy na racionalitu a vědecký pokrok v obou srovnávaných dílech. Dále pak zkoumám, jak obě díla reflektují společnost a dobu, ve které vznikla.