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Disorderly Men and Their Muse

  • Date Submitted: 02/08/2012 05:56 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 62.5 
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Disorderly Men and their Muse                
In “The Case of the Great Detective,” Stephen Knight remarks that the Holmes stories exhibit the “Fear that women tempt men to be disorderly, that they offer another path to the abyss.   And just as that fear is realized, so is there a force to contain it – Sherlock Holmes himself” (377). What is unique about the “Case of the Great Detective” is not simply that the author Doyle creates a situation in which a woman triumphs over a man. Doyle writes a story in which Holmes is vanquished by a woman who uses the qualities usually ascribed to him; cunning thought, intuition and intellect. In “A Scandal in Bohemia”, Irene Adler asserts both power and intellect in her dealings with the King and Holmes, while they both make careless mistakes in their interactions with her.
The King of Bohemia comes to Holmes to ask him for help, because he is in an awkward position. An old lover of the King’s has a compromising photograph of the two of them, and is threatening to expose it to the world on the day that the King announces his engagement to another woman. Holmes notes that the King behaved foolishly with this woman named Irene Adler, and jeopardized his throne: “Oh, dear! That is very bad! Your Majesty has indeed committed an indiscretion.” The King responds that when he was with Irene he “was mad-insane.” Holmes chastises the King that because of this woman, he has potentially weakened the power of the throne: “You have compromised yourself seriously.” (39)
Sherlock Holmes actions are also disorderly because of Irene Adler. His sleuth work involving her is sloppy, and his reasoning abilities are severely compromised because of her. This is first evident when Holmes stalks out Irene’s home. He observes her with a man, engrossed in animated conversation. When the man leaves, Holmes chooses not to follow him even though this might have provided him with clues or insight onto Irene’s character. This choice to not follow him...


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