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The Lack of Evolution in the Detective Genre.

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The Lack of Evolution in the Detective Genre Sherlock Holmes is probably the most famous detective in literary history. Therefore, it is not surprising that many authors in the 20th century have followed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's template when writing detective stories. For example, Agatha Christie's character Hercule Poirot is nearly identical to Holmes. In this essay, I will compare "The Hound of the Baskervilles" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" by Agatha Christie, two basically similar novels, which are clear examples of the detective genre. In doing so, I hope to prove that the basic elements of detective stories, such as the detective, his methods and the feeling of suspense, have remained unchanged over the years. Firstly, the most obvious point of comparison lies in the many similarities between the two main characters, the detectives, Holmes and Poirot. Both of them are quite vain and self-obsessed. Near the beginning, they are constantly taunting or bragging to their companions. For example, when Holmes proves that one of Watson's theories is incorrect, he says "'No mention of that local hunt, Watson'... with a mischievous smile", gently mocking him. Earlier on, he also says "in noting your fallacies, I was occasionally guided towards the truth". Although this might be interpreted as a compliment, I believe that this is a very pretentious remark, which reflects Holmes' vain and egotistical nature. ...read more.


One night, Watson hears Barrymore walking around very quietly "with no covering on his feet" clearly trying to be stealthy, and then sees him signalling someone on the moor. This is clearly intended to convince the reader that the butler is at least working with the murderer if he himself is not the murderer. However, it is then discovered that he was communicating with his brother-in-law who could not have had any connection with the murder. Christie however, goes much further, and gives all the characters a motive for murdering Simeon Lee. She does however, include a character very similar to Barrymore. Horbury, although not a butler, performs more or less the same tasks for Simeon Lee, and like Barrymore, is trusted by nobody. He "sneaks around like a cat", which is very similar to Barrymore's description, and "listens at doors". Because of this mistrust he was the main suspect for a while, but it was then proved that he was not the culprit. The fact that clues appear irrelevant at first is another very obvious similarity between the two books. For example, in Christie's book, when Poirot, Johnson and Sugden are interviewing Pilar, she say that Simeon Lee "'must have been handsome - very handsome, like you'... to Superintendent Sugden" and Sugden's face turns "brick-red at the compliment", the reader is lead to believe that he is simply embarrassed. ...read more.


Stapleton appeared to be the harmless friend of Sir Henry. I believe that this makes the story more exciting and keeps the reader interested until the end of the story. The final similarity is that both murders are "remarkable". As he was killed in a room that was locked from the inside and nobody was even near the room at the time, Simeon Lee's murder was considered "unreal". Sir Charles Baskerville was killed by a hound, "but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen". "Fire burst from its open mouth" and "its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare". This clearly shows how unnatural the hound was, if not supernatural. Although the crimes seem unreal, the authors give reasonable explanations. For example, the Hound's ability to glow in the dark is explained in a single word by Holmes, "Phosphorus". In Christie's novel, Sugden visited the house twice on the day of the murder, once before, and once after. Poirot explains how he "killed him (Simeon Lee) before you (Sugden) left the house the first time" and "turned the key from the outside". Despite being quite strange both explanations are plausible. In conclusion, I believe that all these similarities between the two stories, such as the similarities between the two detectives, the way in which clues are revealed and the way in which the author keeps the reader interested, show how similar Agatha Christie's novels are to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's. Therefore, I believe that the detective genre has evolved very little over the years. ...read more.

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