Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the “Sherlock Holmes” series of fictional stories between the years of 1837-1901 and the stories were based around the same time frame. During this time Queen Victoria was on the throne in England and under her reign Britain conquered many other countries all across the globe and developed a huge empire. At the same time as this the Industrial Revolution was in full swing and technology in the country was improving tremendously. Both of these things meant that Britain was one of the most powerful and well developed countries in the world with influences in basically every continent.
The stories are based around a well known detective called Sherlock Holmes and are written from the perspective of Holmes’ assistant Dr. Watson. The two main stories that give the best insight into the life and beliefs of Victorian Britain are “The Speckled Band” and “The Man with the Twisted Lip. ” “The Speckled Band” is about a man called Dr. Roylott, who murders one of his Stepdaughters and attempts to murder the second through the use of a poisonous snake, before Sherlock Holmes thwarts his plans and sends the snake back to kill Dr.
Roylott instead. “The Man with the Twisted Lip” is about a gentleman called Neville St. Clair who goes into the city every day and changes his appearance to become a professional beggar known as Hugh Boone. Doing this he earns surprisingly large sums of money, until Neville St. Clair disappears (thought to be murdered by Hugh Boone) and Hugh Boone is imprisoned as the main suspect. Sherlock Holmes, however, works out Neville St. Clair’s clever scheme and reveals the truth about his begging.
His good deeds in helping his clients with their mysteries mean that he would probably have been seen as a minor hero and the Victorians would have admired him for this. The Victorians held the class system in very high regard and had a fairly precise ideal for what a gentleman of the time should be like. A Victorian gentleman would have been polite and honest as well as being brave and reliable.
They needed to appear respectable wearing the fashionable clothes of the time e. g.a waistcoat; as this was a sign of how wealthy you were because a reasonably high income was an important part of being a gentlemen of the time, as was being quite intelligent, because they gave the impression of having a good background. The character of Sherlock Holmes fits these qualities of an ideal gentleman quite well. Firstly he is always perfectly polite and this can be seen in both stories as he addresses everyone with their correct title of, “Madam,” or “Sir. ” His politeness is even more noticeable in the way he speaks to women.
As in “The Speckled Band” he says to Helen Stoner, “I can only say, madam, that I shall be happy to devote the same care to your case as I did to that of your friend. ” This is a kind statement and I think he is trying to comfort Miss Stoner. Holmes also shows his bravery and strength in “The Speckled Band” when he says to Watson, “I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own. ” Here he is referring to Dr. Roylott and to prove his strength he straightens out the poker that the doctor had just bent.
I think this is a good show of his bravery because Dr. Roylott is a very big and dangerous man who has just threatened him, but Holmes stands his ground and doesn’t show any fear. His bravery is also shown in “The Man with the Twisted Lip” when he puts himself at risk in order to try to solve the case when he goes into the opium den, “Had I been recognised in that den my life would not have been worth an hour’s purchase. ” This shows that he is willing to put himself at risk in order to save others and the Victorians would have admired this.
Working on both cases he proves that he has plenty of brains as well as brawn in how he manages to deduce large amounts of information from the smallest of clues. In “The Man with the Twisted Lip” he deduces a lot of important details from a letter that Mrs St. Clair receives. “This man has written the name and there has then been a pause before he wrote the address, which can only mean that he was not familiar with it. ” He discovers all this just by looking at the colour of the ink and this shows that he is also quite observant.
He is again incredibly observant in “The Speckled Band” when he spots spatters of mud on Helen Stoner’s coat, “There is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and then only when you sit on the left hand side of the driver. ” This shows that he spots the smallest of details and then ties them together to come to a conclusion. It also proves he thinks logically and has a good general knowledge as well to know how a dog-cart throws up mud. Another characteristic of Holmes that would have been important in a Victorian gentleman is how he protects truth and morality.
In “The Man with the Twisted Lip” he tries to help Neville St. Clair because he sees that he hasn’t actually done anything wrong so it would be immoral to punish him. He also protects truth all the time because it is his job to uncover the truth when he solves his cases. However, in “The Speckled Band” he shows that he tells the truth even when it is not in his best interests, “In this way I am no doubt indirectly responsible for Dr. Grimesby Roylott’s death. ” This is a very risky thing to admit and it proves that he is very honest.
Closely linked to this is the fact that Sherlock Holmes is always very reliable. He gives all of his attention to a case until he has solved it and in “The Man with the Twisted Lip” he sits up all night focusing on the case until he thinks he has solved it and then immediately leaves to prove his theory. Holmes also tries his best to make society safe from villainy, and often puts himself in harms way to do it, which would have been seen as a very gentlemanly thing to do. In “The Speckled Band” he sends the snake back to kill Dr. Roylott so that he can’t kill anyone else and is no longer a danger to Miss Stoner.