Sherlock Holmes is initially interested in the king's case because he thinks there will be a lot of money in it. Why, then, does he only ask the king for Irene's photograph as payment for his...

Sherlock Holmes is initially interested in the king's case because he thinks there will be a lot of money in it. Why, then, does he only ask the king for Irene's photograph as payment for his services?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of "A Scandal in Bohemia," Sherlock Holmes asks the king for Irene's photograph as payment for his services. Holmes wants this photograph because he values it more highly than the money offered to him at the end of Chapter One. 

The reason for Holmes' change of mind comes as a result of his relationship with Irene Adler and, specifically, the intense admiration that he develops towards her. In his pursuit of the photograph, Holmes uses a number of techniques to ascertain where Irene may have hidden it. He follows her around town, for example, and twice disguises himself to get access into her home. In a clever move, however, Irene calls Holmes' bluff by using these very same methods to outwit him and maintain her possession of the photograph. She even taunts Holmes by dressing as a man and bidding him a good evening outside of his home on Baker Street. Holmes has no idea that it is Irene and she is able to escape England without giving him the photograph.

For the first time, then, Holmes has been completely outwitted and this is why Watson speaks so highly of Irene in the opening paragraph of the story. Because of her abilities, Holmes believes that Irene is a woman who "eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex." She has transfixed Holmes and that is why her photograph is worth more to him than money. 

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A Scandal in Bohemia

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