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To what extent is Sherlock Holmes the original, archetypal fictional detective?

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Introduction

To what extent is Sherlock Holmes the original, archetypal fictional detective? By Bracken Hampson-Ragg From Poirot to Morse and Creek to Columbo it is thought that Sherlock Holmes is the original detective, the one that most fictional detectives follow. It is his distance from society, assertive manner and observational skills that make his character so well renowned. Many aspects of Holmes' character can be seen in other fictional detectives such as inspector Morse and Poirot, who, like Holmes, are distanced from society and super-humanly intelligent. Sir Authur Conan-Doyle first wrote Sherlock Holmes in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. It was very popular because it was among the first detective fiction to be written. Since then many other writers have used Holmes's characteristics, idiosyncrasies and methods of detection as a model for their detectives. Sherlock Holmes is a fascinating character who people enjoy to get to know through his stories. In 'A Scandal In Bohemia' Watson, Holmes's sidekick, narrates the story because he "had no keener pleasure than in following homes in his professional investigation". Watson tells the reader of Holmes' "tall, spare figure" and his blunt remarks, for example "you have put on seven and a half pounds". This is similar to Inspector Morse, where he calls Lewis, his sidekick, a "fool". In both situations their sidekicks have simply accepted the insults because they are so used to them and because they are too powerless to answer back. ...read more.

Middle

Yet when Holmes thinks of these theories he keeps them to himself not even telling Watson. This is similar to Morse who never lets Lewis in on his theories. It is only towards the end that Holmes reveals his theories to Watson and the readers. Morse explains his theories when he has carefully thought them through. This may sometimes be the wrong answer and Morse will say that he gets things "arse about face" meaning he gets things the wrong way round. He will then think of a new theory, whereas Holmes will generally be right first time. Holmes' relationship with the police is very distant. This is because he can solve problems that the police cannot. Holmes is a private detective. Morse is a police detective and his boss insists that he obey the rules. This doesn't stop him from making up his own rules though. Morse disobeys the police by using "Morse's law". One of these is that "there's always enough time for one more print". This is one of the few characteristics that Morse does not take from Holmes. Holmes has "extraordinary powers of observation" and so is occupied by solving mysteries "abandoned as hopeless by the police". Morse is also given the mysteries that the police have given up on. The police view Holmes as a bit of an odd ball who has a particularly good method of detection. ...read more.

Conclusion

Morse, Creek, Frost, Poirot and Holmes all use deduction as their way of solving the crimes. Each detective feels that "the senses mislead" and that "guesswork" and "theorising before data" is "often wrong". This shows they all think in the same way. Each detective has that same sarcasm in their humour, saying that their problems are "pretty" and "charming". Some detectives speak at least two languages and often mix the two. Showing they are bright and intellectual. Each detective likes classical music and is involved with it in some way i.e. playing an instrument or singing in a choir. Morse has the same flaws as Holmes; Morse drinks, Holmes takes drugs. Morse cannot keep up a relationship, Holmes never starts one. Morse in unorganised and likewise is Homes. Each detective is very much involved in his work. These characteristics, idiosyncrasies and methods of detection are certain to have originated from somewhere. Inspector Frost was created in 19 , Cracker was created in 19 , Jonathan Creek was created in the 1990's, Inspector Morse was created in the 19 , Hercule Poirot was created in the 1930's, and Sherlock Holmes was created in the late 1890's. Through knowing when each detective was created and studying each one in detail, it is obvious that Sherlock Holmes certainly was the first fictional detective. This allowed future authors/creators to build on his very strong characteristics and although many of Holmes' character traits are used they have built on his character and sometimes developed it. ...read more.

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