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You have shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm which has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so many of my own little adventures.

In a number of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the great detective criticizes his friend Dr. Watson for "embellishing" actual events. Holmes uses other terms to express his opinion, but it is clear that what he disapproves of is the emotional element which Watson takes the liberty of inserting into the narratives. Here are two examples:

Holmes shot the slide across the front of his lantern and left us in pitch darkness—such an absolute darkness as I have never before experienced. The smell of hot metal remained to assure us that the light was still there, ready to flash out at a moment's notice. To me, with my nerves worked up to a pitch of expectancy, there was something depressing and subduing in the sudden gloom, and in the cold dank air of the vault.

It is natural for Holmes to think that Watson puts too much dramatic detail into his stories. Holmes is always portrayed as unemotional, strictly intellectual, and analytical. Watson, on the other hand, is always portrayed as a person with strong feelings. He wouldn't get involved with so many of Holmes's cases if he didn't relish the thrill involved as well as the intellectual challenge. The Sherlock Holmes stories often have titles that begin with the words "The Adventure." Arthur Conan Doyle knew that some readers would appreciate the "ratiocination" involved in the mystery, while others would get more fun out of the emotional aspect. Both "The Red-Headed League" and "The Speckled Band," have a strong mixture of deduction and suspense.

Holmes and Watson make a good pair for the storyteller's art. Holmes provides the analysis, deduction, induction, and ratiocination; Watson provides the more "human" element of curiosity, excitement, fear, wonder, amusement, and triumph. Together, the two characters weave intellect and emotion into stories that have remained popular for over a hundred years.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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