illustration of Sherlock Holmes in profile surrounded by various items from his many mysteries

The Best of Sherlock Holmes

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Student Question

How does Sherlock Holmes utilize his keen observation in "A Scandal in Bohemia" or "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"?

Quick answer:

Sherlock Holmes is an expert in deduction, a skill that comes from careful observation of the physical world. The powers of observation are also called "observation" or "senses." In Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes uses his powers of observation to solve crimes. In this lesson, you will learn how observe and describe the world around you with these five senses: hearing, sight, taste, touch and smell. 1. Read silently and find examples of the five senses in the first paragraph below (hearing , sight , taste , touch , and smell ). Then, read out loud the second paragraph on page 638 in your text book (the Focus Question) 2.

Expert Answers

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In "A Scandal in Bohemia," the first story in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock shows off his powers of observation by telling Watson that he's gained weight, he's begun practicing medicine again, he's recently gotten himself very wet, and his servant girl is clumsy. He deduces these things from the smell of iodoform and the marks on Watson's shoes where the clumsy servant girl tried to scrape off the mud.

He receives an unsigned letter and deduces that the writer (who is coming to visit) is a rich German man from Bohemia and will likely wear a mask. When the guest arrives, Sherlock addresses him as "your Majesty," revealing his knowledge that the guest is the future king of Bohemia.

In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Holmes also shows his keen powers of observation to his client by lifting the lace on Miss Stoner's sleeve, uncovering bruises from her stepfather's abuse. Tactfully, Holmes does not say how he discerned this.

As Holmes investigates Miss Stoner's bedroom, he discovers that there is a useless ventilator that leads from Miss Stoner's room to the room of Roylott, her stepfather. Later, Holmes tells Watson that he already knew he was going to find this ventilator because Miss Stoner said her sister, Julia, had smelled Roylott's cigar smoke when she slept in this room the night before she died.

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