When Arthur Conan Doyle created the Sherlock Holmes stories there was a massive effect of realism in them, which effected different people. This is because of his background, which came mainly from when he was at school. He attended a boarding school, which was connected to a Catholic Church. He attended church services although soon he became interested by spiritualism and even though he had this belief he still respected what he had been bought up to know in the Catholic Church.
A main influence in Conan Doyle’s stories was a teacher called Joseph Bell, he taught Conan Doyle and his classmates about observation and always paying attention. He used an example where he dipped his finger in some acid and then put that finger in his mouth. He would then ask the class to do the same. The observational part comes when he dipped his index finger into the acid and then without using any form of illusion would put his middle finger into his mouth.
This explains how Conan Doyle got his ideas, which seemed to make Holmes have super human observational powers like in the Speckled Band where when Helen Stoner is in Holmes’s Study, he describes her trip to see him by observing her. He said, “…I observe the second half of a return ticket in the palm of your left glove. You must had started early, and yet you had a good drive in a dog-cart, along heavy roads, before you reached the station…” This statement clearly shows that Sherlock Holmes’ character was very well created and made to sound so real.
In fact it seemed so real to people sometimes that they would believe that Sherlock Holmes was a real person because as any hero, he has his strengths and weaknesses. Conan Doyle created this sense of security for people by making Sherlock Holmes live in a local place, so he chose Baker Street, at the time this was a quiet, private house so people could believe this. Some people wouldn’t worry about things because they thought Holmes was there to help them. Another thing that made Holmes seem really real was Conan Doyle would describe places in London in great detail including descriptions of buildings and how he could see into the distance. When Holmes fell over the Reichenbach falls people believed he was dead so they wore black armbands.
One thing with Sherlock Holmes is that the criminal is always punished. It started in the Victorian and Edwardian times when people were confused about justice and then after Charles Darwin proposed the evolution theory, which made people thing God didn’t exist. They had doubts that sinful people would be sent to hell to be punished by God, so they would punish them themselves. So because Sherlock Holmes was so real for the people and he finds the criminal every time they felt safe. Also, there was a theory that the end of the world was close so Sherlock Holmes being this super-hero figure provided reassurance.
Sherlock Holmes is described in one of the stories as “the relentless, keen-witted, ready -handed criminal agent” He seems to have every skill a detective may need and he has “brilliant reasoning power,” which amazes the readers because he gains his short term conclusions for small observations. For example, when John Clay comes to see Sherlock Holmes in “The Red Headed League” Holmes observes his “worn, wrinkled and stained knees” and immediately gathers that he has been digging a passage to the bank. Another thing that is shown here is that Holmes is lonely without a family, which in return stopped readers from hating him for his investigative skills and take pity on him as he devotes his life to solving crime.
When the story progresses the author doesn’t necessarily give the reader enough clues to be able to make our own conclusions on the story, which I think makes the story seem more attractive and helps to get the reader interested. When Dr Roylott in “The Speckled Band” says “Don’t you dare to meddle with my affairs” it brings on a sub-conscious thought that he is the villain in this story and it is quite the same in “The Red Headed League” when Holmes asks whether John Clay’s “ears are pierced for ear rings” because if your ears were pierced back then you would be considered a well known criminal. There is a technique used here which keeps the reader interested right through the investigation and by guessing correctly would eventually make them feel proud of themselves.
Another of the reasons that this story seems so real is because Doctor Watson was the narrator in effect and because in those times a doctor was a very well trusted so what the doctor said happened. He is shown as lacking the amount of talent and skill that Holmes has in investigating, which helps the reader to form a close relationship with Watson as most of the time he only knows what the reader knows. The author also includes many references to foreign countries. He refers to many of the “Indian animals” in “The Speckles Band” and he talks about “The Chinese Tattoo” in “The Red Headed League.” This helped Sherlock Holmes’ popularity as Great Britain, known as the ‘British Empire’ back then owned these countries and the people wanted to know about them. Overall Conan Doyle was very imaginative in the way he structured his stories and created the excellent characterisation, brilliant plot which go to make Sherlock Holmes stories successful.