Every year, thousands of characters are formulated, some are loved, some are hated, some are dismissed, some are complex, some are comical, some are for kids, some for grown-ups and some are legends. The bulk of all fictional characters are soon replaced by new, more modern fictional personalities because they are too pedestrian, they do not have a deep impact on the readers. They soon fade out, and are forgotten. There are precious little who are legends, who transcend centuries and are admired universally.
Recently, the genre of crime fiction has begun to fascinate me. So with plenty of spare time this winter break, I decided to review one of the books in the Sherlock Holmes series. But I was perplexed as I oscillated between which book to choose, as they each had their own sublime plots and were equally intriguing. So, I began to wonder about the one item in all the books which rendered them unique. It soon dawned upon me that the real reason was because of the protagonist himself! In a time and age in which modern technology becomes redundant in a matter of months, this luminary has left such a profound impact on the readers and non-readers alike, that he is still regarded as a paragon of crime detection, even after a century. And so, after much deliberation, the idea flashed to dedicate an article to this king of crime fiction, instead of limiting myself to a book review. With 60 fantastic stories, Sherlock Holmes never fails to captivate the reader with his superb deduction skills and his shrewd thinking.
With a unique personality, this stolid and astute detective is infallible. He is a boxer, singlestick (fighting or fencing with a wooden stick or sword held in one hand) player, an expert violin player and much more. Until the end of a mystery, he remains reticent and does not explain his actions or thought process. His companion, Dr. Watson, was often lucky even when he just told him where they were going. One of his eccentricities is that though he is a master at everything he does, he seems to be indisposed to learning anything which does not relate to his profession. Watson puts his ignorance like this, with devastating accuracy: "His ignorance was just as remarkable as his knowledge." The most fascinating fact for me is that he is oblivious to the basic fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and that even though Dr. Watson told him, he does his best to forget it. He is afraid that his brain will get crowded with superfluous information and he will forget the things that matter to him.
Though the police force is always there to officially investigate a crime scene, their investigation seems amateurish compared to Sherlock Holmes. The former can only stand by as an audience as the unofficial detective punctiliously closes his nets around the murderer in a matter of days. He loves to take on the daunting prospect of dealing with Mephistophelean forces, while belittling the police force the whole time. He chaffs the police, and looks at their futile attempts to solve a mystery in disdain.
While reading his books, I was imbued with admiration for Holmes's "Theory of Deduction." It is a quintessential part of his genius. In a nutshell, he "works backwards." If you give most people the events, they can usually figure out the end result. But, if you give Sherlock Holmes the end result he can work backwards and figure out the turn of events which led to that result. This theory is the underlying principle for solving any mystery. Even though contemporary crimes, such as cybercrime are harder to track, and modern techniques are now used, Holmes’s "Theory of Deduction" always holds true. The theory is actually, as Holmes says, "simplicity itself." He uses his meticulous observations, which we see but consider unimportant, like variables in a sum, which all add up to the end result (the crime). He figured out that his friend Watson was sitting in a cab (a horse-drawn carriage with no doors) with someone else, as there was mud on only one side of his trousers, so he couldn’t have sat in the middle. Therefore, there was another person with him in the cab. His seemingly endless knowledge helps him deduce where people had been, how old a piece of parchment was just by looking at one corner of it, he can decode a message without a key, a whole mystery without moving from his chair, he can solve the most singular case with barely any evidence, and I could keep on going on forever. This concept is very basic, and yet is the backbone for all of his deductions.
While reading his books, I really feel that Arthur Conan Doyle has brought a really illustrious character to life. This article is meant as a tribute for the exalted duo of Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle.