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‘The Sign of Four’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Introduction

'The Sign of Four' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Chapter 1 The opening lines suggest that Holmes is a drug addict, alternating between morphine and cocaine, displayed when Watson asks:"What is it today?" I asked, "morphine or cocaine?" The drugs have physically taken their toll on Holmes, his 'white fingers' take the needle before injecting the drug in to his 'sinewy forearm'. Watson clearly objects to Holmes' use of drugs, but is reluctant to protest, despite his knowledge of the dangers of drugs. Holmes accepts Watson's medical opinion, possibly because he is an army surgeon, however this is one of the rare times where Holmes acknowledges what Watson has to say. Watson is in awe of Holmes, he admires 'his great powers' and repeatedly describes Holmes in an admirable fashion. Holmes can not stand being without work, and he takes drugs to pass the time, because he is restless. His 'mind rebels at stagnation'. Holmes has an inflated opinion of himself, as he describes himself as superior over the police force, and that 'when Gregson, or Lestrade, or Athelney Jones are out of their depths - which is their normal state, the matter is laid before me'. Holmes tends to show no emotion throughout the novel, the first time he shows this is in his critiscism of Watson's work 'you have attempted to tinge it with romantiscism.' ...read more.

Middle

Bartholomew does not trust anyone, and has employed a large guard to defend him. Watson and Marston seek comfort from each other, and again show their emotions. Holmes takes charge of the situation 'in a firm way'. Holmes is described as being 'more moved' than Watson had ever seen him, something is clearly wrong. Bart has not been looking after his room, it is 'littered with Bunsen burners'. Watson shows his lack of detective prowess compared to Holmes when Watson declares it to be 'an insoluble mystery', wheras Holmes' has views 'on the contrary'. Holmes and Watson are clearly used to death, as they are indifferent to the body in the room. Chapter 6 Holmes delights in solving mysteries, as he starts 'rubbing his hands'. He dismisses Watson and tells him to get out of the way and to 'sit in the corner' like an annoying pupil. Holmes shows a tendency to gather more facts than necessary, as in the case of the ropeburn. Watson looks up to Holmes for an answer. However Holmes, the mentor tells Watson, the pupil to 'use (his) methods' to deduct an answer. The police do not rate Holmes' detective abilities and credit his success down to 'luck' and call him a theorist. Holmes does not help the police with the additional information he has gained. His confidence arises yet again when he tells Thaddeus 'I think I can clear you'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Marston did not seem to eager about the retrieval of the treasure, as she can probably see the trouble it could bring. She does realise however, all the trouble it has caused and at least acknowledges the 'pretty box'. Watson realises how much stress the expedition has placed upon him. They both felt held back by the treasure, and were relieved that it did not exist. Now they were free to love each other. Chapter 12 Holms and Watson do not mind there is no treasure. The other are angry, that they have laboured so much for nothing. Small made sure no one could have it if he had no chance of claiming it. He seems to have accepted a nasty fate. He holds no grudge against Holmes. He ran away from home to escape his problems. He was angry that his perfect life and all his friends were killed by natives. Small was a good man who would give his life for the good of the army. He was obsessed by the treasure - he was corrupted by it. He felt guilty about killing in cold blood. But it as the mans life or his. He was very lonely in prison. 'I was very lonesome'. He remained true to the oath he made sure he 'helped my companions'. Small became overpowered by revenge, it was an 'absorbing passion'. Small accomplished what he set out to do and was very co-operative. With the case over, Holmes goes back to his drugs. ...read more.

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