Questions and Answers for The Sign of Four

The Sign of Four

How is the relationship between Holmes and Watson portrayed throughout the story?

The relationship between the legendary detective and his loyal assistant is largely unequal. In terms of intellect, logic, and powers of deduction, Holmes is unequivocally Watson's superior. Yet...

Latest answer posted October 31, 2018 9:07 am UTC

3 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Arthur Conan Doyle present Sherlock Holmes as a detective throughout The Sign of Four?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle presents Sherlock Holmes as a particularly fine detective. This starts right in the first chapter, when Sherlock makes deductions about a watch held by Watson. As Holmes says...

Latest answer posted May 23, 2020 7:49 pm UTC

5 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Conan Doyle present London as a mysterious and sinister setting for a mystery in The Sign of Four? 

In Chapter 3, "In Quest of a Solution," of The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, his steadfast companion, Dr. John H. (for "Hamish," the Scottish version of...

Latest answer posted September 21, 2019 9:48 pm UTC

3 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Arthur Conan Doyle present Watson and Holmes as very different people?

Dr. Watson's romantic attachment to Mary Morstan is crucial here. We simply can't imagine, in a million years, that someone as coldly logical and rational as Sherlock Holmes would ever give his...

Latest answer posted April 26, 2019 10:07 am UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Doyle build tension in Chapter Ten of The Sign of Four?

Doyle effectively builds tension in chapter 10 by creating a sense of anticipation in the reader. In this chapter, we anticipate that Holmes and Watson are finally going to catch Jonathan Small,...

Latest answer posted May 9, 2018 8:11 pm UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How is the theme of home and abroad explored in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four?

The theme of home and abroad is explored in The Sign of Four by providing contrasting views of England and India; England is the familiar, and India is juxtaposed as the fantastic, a place where...

Latest answer posted February 27, 2019 5:12 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How is the relationship between Dr. Watson and Mary Morstan potrayed in The Sign of Four?

The beautiful and pure Mary Morstan is a single woman in her late 20s who comes to Sherlock Holmes for help in solving a mystery. She and Watson fall in love. Watson thinks Miss Morstan is quite...

Latest answer posted April 11, 2019 4:29 pm UTC

3 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How is Thaddeus Sholto presented?

In chapter 4, Thaddeus Sholto is introduced as: a small man with a very high head, a bristle of red hair all round the fringe of it, and a bald, shining scalp which shot out from among it like a...

Latest answer posted May 13, 2019 10:28 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What are the key events in The Sign of Four?

The Sign of Four is a fascinating addition to the Holmes stories, giving us fresh insights into each of the characters and their stories. Here are some key events that add layers to the series as a...

Latest answer posted April 27, 2018 7:46 pm UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

What mistakes or errors did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle make in the Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of Four?

Identifying errors in the Sherlock Holmes corpus is a well-established fan activity. Arthur Conan Doyle read widely to find obscure information that Holmes was likely to know and use in his...

Latest answer posted January 31, 2019 6:39 pm UTC

3 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Conan Doyle use language techniques to portray Sherlock Holmes as eccentric in the first 311 words of...

In this passage, we are presented with a description of Sherlock Holmes injecting himself with a syringe. Watson, who is disapproving, asks the detective which drug he is using -- morphine or...

Latest answer posted October 6, 2016 5:07 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How does Arthur Conan Doyle present the character of Thaddeus Sholto?  

Thaddeus Sholto is an eccentric, complex, fearful, and rather unpleasant person whose actions set the story in motion. Initially, he is guilty of conspiring to keep a fortune away from its rightful...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2016 11:11 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How is Watson portrayed throughout the novella (include quotations)?

From the very beginning of the story, Watson is portrayed as having enormous respect for Holmes. The Sign of Four starts with Holmes injecting himself with cocaine, as is his normal habit. Yet, no...

Latest answer posted January 3, 2018 1:17 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

Please give a character review of Mary Morstan in The Sign of Four.

We have to remember that our account of Mary Morstan comes from Watson, who is in love with her. He describes her as a sweet and refined young woman, saying of her when he first meets her at...

Latest answer posted June 15, 2019 9:54 pm UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Conan Doyle present Holmes as a complex and unusual character in the first two chapters of The Sign of Four?

As mentioned in the other answer, we find out that Sherlock Holmes uses cocaine. Watson, as a doctor, is alarmed by this habit: [It] involves increased tissue-change and may at last leave a...

Latest answer posted May 25, 2018 2:35 pm UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How are Watson and Holmes presented as different male characters?

At the beginning of The Sign of Four, it is clear that Sherlock Holmes intimidates John Watson. Although Watson is a doctor and a war veteran and quite accomplished in his own right, Holmes's...

Latest answer posted July 5, 2018 9:35 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What are the key events of Chapter Seven in The Sign of Four?

In chapter 7, several key clues are provided that foreshadow the solving of the crime. First, and most importantly, Holmes and Watson discover several small footprints left when one of the...

Latest answer posted October 23, 2018 5:34 pm UTC

3 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How do Thaddeus Sholto's surroundings reflect his character? 

When Arthur Conan Doyle describes Sherlock and Watson's first impressions of the house, he writes: We were all astonished by the appearance of the apartment into which he invited us. In that sorry...

Latest answer posted February 18, 2019 10:10 pm UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Arthur Conan Doyle present Sherlock Holmes throughout The Sign of Four?

Sherlock Holmes is the iconic detective who is depicted in The Sign of Four and many other works by Arthur Conan Doyle. He is brilliant but socially awkward and eccentric. Some recent writers have...

Latest answer posted October 17, 2017 12:36 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How is Mary Morstan presented as a character in chapter 11?

Watson, looking at Mary Morstan through the eyes of love, finds her quite beautiful in this chapter but also thinks she seems sad: She was seated by the open window, dressed in some sort of white...

Latest answer posted April 25, 2019 10:59 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

In the second chapter of The Sign of the Four, what observation and what inference has been made?

Watson makes an inference about the client, and Holmes makes an inference about the letter writer’s handwriting. An inference is a guess based on evidence. When you make a guess you almost know...

Latest answer posted September 16, 2015 10:19 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How is the relationship between Holmes and Watson presented in the first chapter?

In chapter 1, the relationship between Holmes and Watson is presented as mostly a friendly one, but with some less friendly feelings of irritation and insensitivity. It's important to remember that...

Latest answer posted May 23, 2019 10:09 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How is Mary Louise Pratt's definition of a "contact zone" represented in The Sign of Four? What might these...

According to Mary Louise Pratt, contact zones are spaces where different cultures meet. Often there is a significant power differential in a contact zone, which influences how the contact takes...

Latest answer posted October 31, 2020 11:59 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How is the relationship between Watson and Holmes presented throughout the novella?

Watson is a foil, or contrast, to Holmes throughout the novella. Watson's own inability to puzzle out rationally what is going on with the mystery highlights the power and logic of Holmes's...

Latest answer posted December 27, 2017 5:41 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

Should the reader feel empathy towards Jonathan Small?

In Chapter Eleven of "The Sign of Four," the reader meets Jonathan Small for the first time. While Holmes had made it clear that Small has played a pivotal role in the murders, one cannot help but...

Latest answer posted March 7, 2016 1:59 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How old is Mary Morston in The Sign of Four?

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's second novel, The Sign of Four, published in 1890, we are introduced to Miss Mary Morstan. Miss Morstan entered the room with a firm step and an outward composure of...

Latest answer posted August 4, 2019 5:06 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What is the difference between how Holmes and Dr. Watson view Miss Morstan?

Both Holmes and Watson see Miss Mary Morstan in a positive light as a woman of refinement and vulnerability. Watson, however, falls in romantic love with her, which colors his view of her. Being in...

Latest answer posted February 8, 2020 2:04 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What links does Arthur Conan Doyle make to life in London (1880-1925) in "The Sign of Four"?     

In "The Sign of Four," Doyle makes numerous references to life in London during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. First of all, Doyle's references to fog are very representative of life in...

Latest answer posted February 25, 2016 9:39 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

Why is Dr. Watson angry with Thaddeus Sholto in The Sign of Four?

The answer to this question lies in chapter 4. In that chapter, Miss Morstan, Holmes, and Dr. Watson meet Thaddeus Sholto. Thaddeus is about thirty years old and is the son of Major Sholto. We...

Latest answer posted June 17, 2019 9:27 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How does Major Sholto's house represent 19th century society?

"Major Sholto's house" is Pondicherry Lodge. In what way does do this residence evoke themes representative of 19th century society? In answering this question, I will focus on elements of the home...

Latest answer posted October 21, 2016 8:35 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What are the significant historical events of 1880 to 1925 that form the contextual setting of The Sign of Four by...

The Sign Of Four was written against the backdrop of the Sepoy Rebellion or Indian Mutiny of 1857. By the 1850s, the East Indian Company ruled India on Britain's behalf. In this system, the Sepoys...

Latest answer posted December 7, 2015 6:07 pm UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

In Conan Doyle's Sign of Four was the bull's-eye lent to Holmes by the Sergeant a type of eye glass?

In many stories of Sherlock Holmes, we find a reference made to the "bull's eye." The bull's eye is not a type of eye glass, but is actually a kind of lantern. This lantern was widely used by...

Latest answer posted December 27, 2010 2:34 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How does the author of The Sign of Four depict cultural difference? More specifically, are foreign cultures presented...

The Sign of Four is, according to modern standards, a racist book. The only other cultures explored to any extent outside of the British are native cultures of Indians; Indians are portrayed as the...

Latest answer posted March 10, 2020 12:18 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How can Sherlock Holmes can tell that the window was not opened from the outside in The Sign of Four?

Sherlock Holmes can tell that the window was not opened from the outside because it is bolted from the inside and because it is not the type of window that a man with a wooden leg could have...

Latest answer posted December 10, 2020 12:12 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How are Thaddeus Sholto and his home described in The Sign of Four? What is the purpose or possible effect of this...

Thaddeus Sholto is presented as a strange little man, ingratiating and formally polite, but almost too polite, indicating perhaps that he's putting on some kind of an act. It's noticeable that...

Latest answer posted December 6, 2019 9:35 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

Can Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four be classed as a hybrid work that mixes genres and writing styles? Why?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four is a detective novel. This is a genre which evolved in English literature out of certain elements of the sensation novel. While The Moonstone (1868) by...

Latest answer posted April 22, 2019 10:17 am UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Watson change throughout the novella? How does Conan Doyle structure him?

Watson has always been more romantic and emotional than Holmes. Doyle highlights this difference between them in the opening of the novel. As Watson, a physician, expresses concern over Holmes'...

Latest answer posted February 16, 2020 12:17 am UTC

3 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How are Thaddeus Sholto and his home described in The Sign of Four? What is the purpose or possible effect of this...

At the end of chapter three, Holmes and Watson arrive at what the author calls a "questionable and forbidding neighbourhood." Watson describes a line of dark brick houses, most of which are...

Latest answer posted December 6, 2019 11:27 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How is Watson presented as the perfect crime partner?

In some ways, Sherlock Holmes is a solitary figure, capable of almost miraculous feats of detection based on encyclopedic knowledge of relevant information, strong observational skills, and a...

Latest answer posted August 22, 2018 10:32 pm UTC

2 educator answers

The Sign of Four

How does Doyle present India/the "Orient" with reference to to idea of the "other" and Britain's colonial attitudes...

The chief way Doyle creates an "Oriental other" is through the mysterious character of Tonga, a tiny Pygmy-like man from the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, near India. Tonga's description is...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2018 6:52 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

Which two items did Holmes leave on his chair?

It's evening and Dr. Watson has just left Camberwell. By the time he gets to Baker Street it's completely dark. Watson notices that Holmes' pipe and book have been left by his chair, but the man...

Latest answer posted October 25, 2019 9:11 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What does this quote mean: "we were driving to an unknown place, on an unknown errand"?

These lines appear in chapter 3 of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel. As in all his Sherlock Holmes books, the narrator is Dr. John Watson, Holmes’s loyal friend, assistant detective, and chronicler of...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2019 7:02 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What is Watson's relationship like with the other characters in the novel?  

Dr. Watson is the narrator of The Sign of Four, and we are left in no doubt through his narration that he is a loyal, faithful companion to Holmes. Watson appears at times to be almost in awe of...

Latest answer posted June 12, 2018 7:33 am UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

How does Conan Doyle present Holmes as unique?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced readers to Sherlock Holmes, the masterful detective skilled in the art of deduction, in his first novel, A Study in Scarlet. Doyle’s second novel, The Sign of the...

Latest answer posted January 5, 2020 8:14 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What views did people have on people of different races in 1888?

In The Sign of Four, there are many references to people of different races. To modern readers, some of the phrases used to describe them, like "savage" and "monkey-faced," may appear racist and...

Latest answer posted March 7, 2016 2:17 pm UTC

1 educator answer

The Sign of Four

What themes are portrayed with Watson? How does Conan Doyle achieve this?

The dynamic between Sherlock Holmes and Watson places Holmes in the dominant position in their partnership; he is eccentric, brilliant, and so blunt in his dealings with others that his behavior...

Latest answer posted January 14, 2018 11:36 pm UTC

1 educator answer