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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Term Definition
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a series of 12 books, authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This fictional series takes place in London, between the years of 1880 and 1914.

Introduction to The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a collection of short stories about the fictional Sherlock Holmes, an opium-smoking detective living at 221B Baker Street, London, from 1881 to 1904. The book is the third installment in Doyle’s series of books about Holmes, and the only one that is a collection of short stories instead of a novel. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a Scottish author and physician who graduated from the University of Edinburgh Medical School. The first and second Holmes novels were A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four. Both novels and the short stories in Adventures first appeared in magazines of the times. The events in the stories take place from 1880 until 1914. The stories and novels are mostly narrated by Holmes’ friend and roommate, Dr. John H. Watson, although some are written from Holmes’ point of view or in the third-person narrative style.

Themes and motifs of the story

Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was known for his cleverness and cunning, often being able to draw amazingly astute conclusions from the tiniest bits of evidence. 

Holmes’ sense of vigilante justice is also a prominent theme in the works of fiction, and he does not generally obey the same laws as policemen – which often leads to his solving crimes much more rapidly than the officers.

The movement of foreigners and money into and out of London are motifs that carry throughout Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, as well as characters’ strange and often unfortunate experiences when traveling abroad. 

Another motif and theme of the Holmes stories is opium use. Holmes smokes it incessantly, and seems to know where all the local opium dens are located when searching for unsavory characters in the books.

Women in Holmes’ and Watson’s world are very vulnerable and mistreated, from murders to imprisonment for no reason.  The female characters tie into the motif of society and class structure present in London in the 1800s. Jack the Ripper was a prominent figure in London at the time, assaulting and murdering women in the business of prostitution at will.

Details about Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle eventually killed the character of Sherlock Holmes in the short story “The Final Problem,” to devote more time to historical novels he was working. Public outcry eventually ground him down, and he published The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901, and Holmes reappeared explaining that he had faked his own death in 1903’s “The Adventure of the Empty House.”

Watson’s description of Sherlock Holmes uses the word “bohemian,” and his character was nothing if not eccentric. Order and tidiness are not Holmes’ strong points, although he is a stickler for personal cleanliness. Holmes was a collector of papers, and they were “stacked” un “every corner” of his residence. Holmes is known to avoid food while solving difficult cases, and smokes cigar, tobacco, and opium. 

Sherlock Holmes’ consistent use of opium was representative of the times in London. Opium became legal beginning in 1856 and was rampant in 1903. In 1909, opium was outlawed for importation into the United States, and 1910 saw the dismantling of the India-China opium trade due to high levels of addiction all over the world.

Watson notes uncaringly that Holmes hides the truth and conceals evidence from meddling policemen. However, Watson is offended if Holmes uses the manipulation of innocent people to solve a case. Holmes is portrayed as a genius, infallible, and arrogant detective, whose good works of crime-solving are usually attributed to the police. After word of mouth gets around London, clients as directly for Holmes’ help in sticky criminal situations instead of going to the police.

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