Analyze the characterization of Sherlock Holmes. How do we learn about him? B: what do we learn about him?
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- Sherlock Holmes is ranked #9 on the greatest literary characters of all-time list according to the book The Fictional 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Characters in World Literature and Legend, Citadel Press (1998), written by Lucy Pollard-Gott.
- He is based on Inspector Dupin in Edgar Allan Poe's "Purloined Letter" detective story, 1844.
- Many critics believe the deductive nature of detective fiction lead to the spread of literary criticism: in short, Holmes' explanations in the denouement taught readers how to read his stories. As such, they would go back and re-read them more critically.
- Holmes first appeared in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, 1887. In it, Holmes tells Watson:
Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it [A Study in Scarlet] with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story...Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unravelling it.
- All of the Holmes stories are framed by Watson, his less imaginative doctor-friend and foil.
- Holmes is renowned for his deductive reasoning and powers of observation, which allow him to solve forensic cases that have baffled Scotland Yard.
- Holmes is a bohemian (a non-conformist), a master of disguises and weapons, and addicted to cocaine.
- Holmes' readers developed into a cult, and the series is an early predecessor to any comic series, serial (like Harry Potter), and fan fiction.
- Doyle had a love-hate relationship with the character that made him famous. He tried to kill him off, much to his readers' chagrin.
- Other essential facts, according to enotes:
- Sherlock Holmes was modeled after Conan Doyle’s mentor in medical school, Dr. Joseph Bell. Bell was said to be able to deduce a patient’s illness simply by looking at him or her.
- When Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes, subscriptions to The Strand, a periodical in which the author’s work was published, dropped by 20,000 almost overnight.
- King Edward VII knighted Conan Doyle for his literary support of England during the Boer War. Some, however, claim the king did it simply to bribe the author to write more Holmes stories.
- Feeling the pressure and needing the income, Conan Doyle yielded to the fan base and wrote The Hound of Baskervilles, a novel occurring chronologically before Holmes’ death, and he eventually “resurrected” the character in 1903.
- Conan Doyle’s dying words to his second wife were “the greatest and most glorious adventure of all—you are wonderful.”
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