At the end of A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who can be considered the winner in the case?

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "A Scandal in Bohemia,the hereditary King of Bohemia has gotten himself into a pickle. He has fallen in love with an opera singer named Irene Adler, who presently has a photograph of the two of them together. The King is engaged to be married to a high-society woman, and if this photograph were ever to come to light, his reputation might be damaged. In the 19th century, photographs were an expensive luxury and were taken far more seriously with regards to content. A photo of the King and Miss Adler together, coupled with the letters he wrote her, would imply that they were quite serious in their romantic entanglement. The King fears that Adler might use the photograph to sabotage his engagement, and hires Sherlock Holmes to steal it away from Miss Adler.

Holmes and his companion, Dr. Watson, set out to "case" Miss Adler's home and suss out where she might be hiding this precious photograph. In the end, she figures out what they are up to. She packs up all of her belongings, photograph included, and leaves London. When Holmes and Watson return to her home to check the safe they believe to contain the photograph, they find a letter from Miss Adler explaining that she intends to keep the photograph and letters to herself rather than harm the King. 

I would say that this is a win-win-win situation-- the King is safe from blackmail and social ruin, Miss Adler gets to keep the mementos of her relationship, and Mr. Holmes was paid for at least resolving the case. If there were any one true winner in the matter, it would have to be Irene Adler. She has gotten to keep the photograph the King, a powerful man, wanted from her, and she has outsmarted Sherlock Holmes!

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A Scandal in Bohemia

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