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The Lack of Change in the Detective Genre.

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Introduction

The Lack of Change in the Detective Genre Sherlock Holmes is the most famous detective in literary history. He was the first detective to solve cases by the use of deduction, not because the criminal made a mistake. This genre gained favour with many authors of the time, and spawned many other detectives, like Arsene Lupin and Hercule Poirot. How do these detectives compare to Sherlock Holmes? I will try and glean the similarities between short accounts of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, a Belgian immigrant who worked in the Belgian police force as a detective. I have noticed that the basic elements are present in both sets of accounts, which is suggestive, meaning that the genre hadn't evolved much over a period of 30 years. In fact, Agatha Christie, the author of the Hercule Poirot stories, stated in her autobiography that she had set out to emulate the content and writing style of the Sherlock Holmes accounts, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I will try and find these similarities, and also illustrate the lack of change that had occurred in the detective genre between the late 1900s and the 1930s. The most obvious point of comparison is the many similarities between the two main characters, the detectives themselves, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. The fact that both are most "colossally vain" and "self-obsessed", in Dr. ...read more.

Middle

He scoffs at all the others who "jump about, measuring footprints, interview people...". Holmes is very similar, in the respect that he has habits and methods that aren't orthodox, in every sense of the word. For example, he plays the violin "extremely well", takes drugs: "...cocaine sniffing was one of his vices", and is a decorated pugilist, who bends pokers that have been bent into a U-shape, back to their original form, to use one example. He also keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the tow end of a Persian slipper, and "his correspondence transfixed by a jackknife in the very centre of his mantelpiece". I think that the idea to make both detectives different from their conventional stereotypes was taken from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Agatha Christie. This would make the detective memorable to the reader, as the 'curious mannerisms' would make the stories stick in the memory. One such aspect of the two detectives is their superior powers of observation. Both sets of stories contain two very similar examples. In both cases, the detective manages to follow the thinking of their assistants though their actions and recent doings. For example, Holmes can follow that Watson will not want to invest in New Zealand bonds, as he has been playing billiards as he has chalk on his sleeve, and he only plays billiards with one person, and that person has recently invested in NZ bonds, and wants others to join him, but Watson hasn't asked for his checkbook which is locked in Holmes' drawer. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hastings also says that Poirot doesn't "give credit where it's due". They also think that vanity is a quality they do not possess, but through their accounts, show that they do. Both think themselves as equal to their great friends, but in a sense fall flat on their faces as, in Hastings' case, he is not ordered and methodical, and in Watson's, because he doesn't possess the powers of deduction necessary. There are still other clues to suggest that the detective genre hasn't changed much in 30 years. One such clue is the police detective, Lestrade in Holmes' accounts, and Japp in Poirot's. These two detectives are very similar to each other. Both are very methodical, following every lead, and "measur(ing) footprints and mak(ing) observations". They try to maintain a friendly relationship with the detectives and their assistants, sometimes enlisting the help of the assistants to gently poke fun at the detectives, using sarcasm and word-play to get a measure of revenge for the fact that the detectives are much superior to them, and have increased levels of deduction and observation. Both are, at various times, accused of not being logical, and not giving thought before giving chase. I believe that after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle invented Holmes, other writers fell over themselves to create a successful detective based on the legendary pipe-smoking sleuth. Hercule Poirot was, I believe, modeled on Sherlock Holmes. These similarities between the two accounts show that the detective genre hasn't changed over the years. ...read more.

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