The King of Bohemia is about to enter an advantageous marriage, but he visits Holmes for help because an actress with whom he once had an affair, Irene Adler, has love letters and a photo with the two of them in her possession, and the king fears the damage that could be done with them. With the help of Watson and a gang of hired performers, and one of his disguises, Holmes stages a mini-crisis at Adler’s home to discover the hiding place of the items he wants to retrieve. Adler, however, manages to turn the tables on the detective, both in the disguise and strategy departments.
This tale has been a favourite with Holmes readers, for there is no crime, no murder, and yet a woman out smarts the great detective for once. ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’ is not as formulaic as the ordinary Sherlock Holmes stories; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has made some modifications. The reader will find that the basic concept of the story revolves round ‘Irene Adler’. In Victorian times women didn’t play much part in society it was a male dominated era, the reader will find that the story reflects on the attitudes of the century. Modern minded readers cannot help but cringe at the patronizing references that are made here about women.
” When a woman thinks that her house is on fire”, Holmes tells us” She always turns to the thing she values most… A married woman grabs her baby” whereas an “unmarried woman reaches for her jewel-box”. These references are quite humorous yet quite shameful. Holmes is outwitted by Irene Adler when he tries to get hold of the photograph, the writer is conveying the idea of inequality to women at that time and is trying to tell the reader that no one should be underestimated by their potentials no matter what sex they are. Sherlock Holmes is the central character, he is very intelligent and brilliant at his work.
He regards himself as superior to others, enjoys exercising his brain and therefore likes a challenge. Sherlock Holmes is well aware of how good he is at his job and likes to impress his colleagues. Dr Watson is Holmes’s friend and colleague, acts as a narrator to the story, he often fails to understand the case until Holmes explains, Is presented as foil to Holmes who treats his as inferior but in a friendly and caring way rather as one would a child. The King is a German King of a kingdom called Bohemia, is described as a ‘Hercules’ and his appearance being rich and handsome.
The reader doesn’t know much about the king however, all we know is that he has had an affair in the past with Irene Adler who has in her possession a photograph of them together, which he wants to get hold of because he believes that it may affect his reign and his upcoming marriage with a well known Scandinavian kings daughter. Irene Adler has the ‘face of the most beautiful of women’ and the mind of the most resolute of men’, she’s a retired opera singer and an actress. The story is dramatic and is made simply for entertainment purposes.
Doyle has put a bit of history inside it to make it more serious yet entertaining. The reader is to be shocked by the references made to women; it can be contrasted with modern day soap operas. Sherlock Holmes stories follows a similar pattern, a visitor comes to 221B Baker St. to consult Holmes, he listens and then visits the appropriate places, observes, questions appropriate people, in this case the king. He works out the situation in his mind although in this story it’s unorthodox there is no crime or murder involved moreover, it can be said that Holmes is the criminal here.
The fun of the story is trying to work out how Irene Adler knows of the ‘Incognito’. The structure of the story is in three chapters, the first is the introduction, which introduces the main characters and foreshadows the events, which take place later on in the story. The second chapter contains the main events e. g. Holmes disguise. The third and final chapter is the conclusion or the end result, the groom disguise; Irene Adler gets married and the finding of the photo but little did they know that Irene Adler has fled.
The style of the story is complex; the language that is used is very formal but out of date. Therefore in some parts it is hard to understand certain words, these are rarely used nowadays. It is narrated in the first person; everything is seen through Watson’s eyes although we learn little about him. There are very long sentence structures, which are typical 19th century; this suggests that the writer enjoyed using words in an elaborate way. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has made good use of direct speech, Watson doesn’t report what was said, and he quotes it exactly using speech marks.
The story is Plot driven more than character driven, the writer has concentrated more on the events rather than what is going on in the characters minds. This makes the story interesting and more enjoyable to read. Overall, the story is very intricate yet entertaining, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle twisted the tale a little to make the outcome more of a social drama rather than a crime mystery like his other stories. He has been successful by his use of plot driven events and the addition of 19th century history to keep the reader interested.