Sherlock Holmes has remained one of the most famous and enduring fictional detectives since his first appearance in 1887. Explain why you think Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories continue to appeal to his readers. When the Sherlock Holmes books were written, London was rife with croime. The slums, especially, were victims to prostitution, murder and drug abuse. Jack the Ripper was free on the streets, making many people scared. The police couldn’t catch him so the public resented the police force as they weren’t seen to be protecting them. I think that this is one of the reasons why the Sherlock Holmes stories were so successful.
The idea of a detective who solves every crime would appeal highly to a Victorian readership. Also, all the clues are given to the reader which invites them to solve the crime as well. To help me answer this question, I will refer to three Sherlock Holmes Stories; “The Speckled Band”, “Silver Blaze” and “The Cardboard Box”. These three stories are all very different, only two of them are murders. “The Speckled Band” is about a premeditated murder with the motive of money, whereas “The Cardboard Box” is a spur of the moment murder arising out of jealousy. “Silver Blaze”, however, is not a murder, merely an accident, although until the di??
nouement we are led to believe that it is. The relationship between Holmes and Watson is completely platonic. They live together but only in a professional partnership. This would not have been unusual in Victorian England. Dr. Watson gives all the narratives. In tradition doctors are a very trusted profession as they have the image of being saviours. I think that this is why we believe what he says and trust him. He is a more likeable character because he is nearer the level we, as a reader, are at, when it comes to detecting. He shows Holmes as a genius, the best in the business.
Watson is clearly totally in awe of Holmes; “the remarkable mental qualities of my friend. ” Holmes is, by far, the better detective, he has more imagination. Watson respects this, and has become accustomed to Holmes’ somewhat peculiar way of working. He also, never asks Holmes about his thought process during the investigation, because he knows that Holmes will tell him when he is ready. Modern detectives also follow this pattern with the main detective and the less talented, loyal “side kick” The three stories I have studied, although they have common features, are set in very different places.
“The Speckled Band” is set in Dr Roylett’s house. The physical description given by Conan Doyle gives an image of dereliction; “the windows were broken and blocked with wooden boards, while the roof was partly caved in, a picture of ruin”, with only one wing of the house with suitable living conditions. This supports the idea of money as a motif, because the house is falling apart, and Dr Roylett has not been able to do it up. “Silver Blaze” is set on the moors of Dartmoor. This isolated and eerie setting creates a fearful atmosphere. The crime was committed in a hollow out on the moor.
When Holmes and Watson are following the footprints we get the impression that they are totally alone, with nothing and no-one around for miles. “The Cardboard Box”, however, is set in a totally different location. The street to which the extraordinary parcel was delivered to is far more ordinary; “a very long street of two-story brick houses, neat and prim, with whitened stone steps and little groups of aproned women gossiping at the doors. “. This would echo the Victorian fear of crime in their own neighbourhood. Although settings are very important, we need villains within the settings that we can believe in.