After focusing on the different characters and their traits during our last class meeting I decided to look more into the author of this week’s reading, Arthur Conan Doyle. I was intrigued to find his inspiration for the character Sherlock Holmes as well as to piece together how his inspiration influenced the portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in our reading of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (“Baskervilles”).
I found that when Doyle was a young man in college he had a professor, Dr. Joseph Bell, who apparently enjoyed guessing the profession of students using deductive reasoning. Bell’s methods, as well as his cold, unattached personality, became staples in Doyle’s depiction of Sherlock Holmes. Bell’s stressed teachings to his students on the “importance of observation, using all the senses to obtain an accurate diagnosis” I imagine added to the imagine Doyle cooked up in his mind of Sherlock Holmes.
In our reading of “Baskervilles,” Doyle continued to stress Holmes ways of order, logic, and science to assess situations in order to solve the mystery. An example of Holmes commitment to logical reasoning and science is when Mortimer is presenting his letter him and Watson. As Mortimer reads the gripping tale of the curse of the Baskervilles, Holmes appears to almost be bored and uninterested. When Mortimer is finished reading, Holmes states that he doesn’t believe in superstitions or the supernatural. Basically, Sherlock Holmes doesn’t buy the idea of the curse for one moment and continues on deducting the mystery with logical reasoning. Regardless of his true beliefs though, Holmes baits Stapleton by pretending to find no other explanation for the strange happenings other than the curse and therefore be absent while Watson works on the case. It is clear that Holmes only pretended to back off the case to lure Stapleton into a false sense of safety, knowing that he would slip up if he thought Holmes wasn’t around to watch him. Later on in the story we find out that Holmes has been stalking the case the entire time, keeping a watchful eye on the suspects and situation in general.
I think it takes someone with a great deal of commitment to the individual traits of their characters to be able to relentlessly portray them in a certain light. Doyle has undoubtedly portrayed Holmes in the light of science and logic in this story very well, keeping up with the characteristics he displayed of Holmes in the reading from last week, “A Study in Scarlet”. I think Doyle was likely able to portray Holmes so well and consistently partially because he had a real person to base Holmes off of that served as a lasting inspiration to feed from.
“The Author.” Discovering Arthur Conan Doyle. Stanford University, 2006. Web. 01 Oct. 2016.