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Title: Sherlock Holmes as a romantic detective: A stylistic analysis of Holmes's Use of Language
Keywords: arthur conan doyle, sherlock holmes, detective fiction, literary stylistics
Issue Date: 19-Jan-2009
Citation: LU SHENGLI MARK (2009-01-19). Sherlock Holmes as a romantic detective: A stylistic analysis of Holmes's Use of Language. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Sherlock Holmes is often regarded as the embodiment of the materialist/positivist movement during the Victorian era. In using science and logic to solve what appear to be unsolvable crimes, Doyle seems to show how social order and truth can be arrived at through scientific and rational means. Critics have therefore argued that Holmes is, for many Victorian readers, a comforting figure because he validates the faith they have placed in science and logic. It is therefore not surprising that Holmes is described by readers and scholars as a Victorian hero and the perfect Victorian. However, in this dissertation, I argue against such a reading and instead suggest that Holmes be read as a Romantic detective: one who stands for and reaffirms the Romantic values of emotionality and the imagination in arriving at the truth (values which run counter to empiricismo?= s emphasis on emotional distance, and understanding the world primarily through physical data/evidence).
As yet, little research has been done on Holmes in relation to his use of language, the publishing culture during the late nineteenth century, and the way Holmes was illustrated, even though these significantly influence any reading of Holmes. I will therefore be suggesting that Doyle conceptualised Holmes as a romantic rather than a scientific hero by looking at these three areas. Chapters Two and Three will focus on Holmeso?= s use of language: through a linguistic analysis of Holmeso?= s explanations of the mysteries and their solutions, I will show how he first adopts a more scientific voice at the beginning of each story, but later poeticises the logicality and scientificity of his explanations through, for example, the frequent use of metaphors. Holmeso?= s use of both scientific and poetic language implies that his method is one that relies on science and art to arrive at the truth, rather than just the former.
In Chapter Four, I will discuss how the short-story and the serialised forms of the stories are arguably Romantic forms, and how the Strand magazine, which published all the Holmes stories, had a strong romantic slant. These suggest that Doyle perhaps conceptualised his stories as Romances. I will then examine the way in which the idealised illustrations of Holmes as an attractive figure may be seen as a way of endorsing his worldview. Lastly, I will argue towards a view of Sherlock Holmes as a critique of Victorian values in the way that it portrays materialism as a dehumanising system which is, by itself, incapable of truly bringing about social order. Rather, it is Holmeso?= s imagination, instinct and his quixotic sense of justice that enable him to solve crimes and compel him to restore order in society by bringing criminals to justice. Thus, contrary to the view that the Holmes stories reaffirm the values of materialism, I argue that the stories advocate a worldview that combines artistic and scientific modes of thinking as way to correct a society that, in Doyleo?= s opinion, has become o?= a little too scientific [that] it approaches to cold-bloodednesso?= (SS, 8).
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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