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Arthur Conan Doyle Essay

1617 words - 6 pages

Although, the words were never actually uttered by Sherlock Holmes, the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson,” has been stuck in minds since Arthur Conan Doyle first wrote about the famous detective. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, widely known for his stories about the great detective Sherlock Holmes, was born into poverty in Edinburg, Scotland on May 22, 1859. Doyle’s early life and later experiences with his medical career and religion helped influence stories centered around his most famous series and detective, Sherlock Holmes, along with Holmes’ best friend, John Watson. His early interest in Edgar Allen Poe’s style of Gothicism also helped mold his writing style later in life. Living in England and Scotland, and serving in the Boer War, his life was filled with influences that later affected Holmes’ biggest adventure, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Of all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s influences, his three biggest ones are his love of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, his adventures as a doctor, and his belief in spiritualism.
As a young child, Arthur Conan Doyle was an avid reader of the most popular books of the time, especially adventure and gothic novels (British Writers 161). Poe’s works were among the most famous and influential of Doyle’s writing. Gothicism, the main style of Poe’s writing, which intertwined elements of romance and horror, was just starting to reach its height in Victorian England in cheap books and magazines. In fact, Poe’s detective character C. Auguste Dupin was thought of as part of the inspiration for Doyle’s own mystery hero, Sherlock Holmes (“The Hound” 120, 130). Attending a Jesuit school in England which he despised, his short visits home led him to the discovery of Poe’s short stories, which influenced his love of the macabre (Notable British 266-267). However, even more noteworthy is the fact that Doyle modified some of Poe’s early ideas, like long psychological explanations, and emphasized another idea Poe had only briefly touched on, which was arriving to a conclusion using only small pieces of evidence. He also took Poe’s idea of using the narrating character as a sort of cipher to show how intelligent the main character (in this case, either Holmes or Dupin) is in comparison to them (Sayers 219). Although Doyle may have not kept every detail of Poe’s style the same, he used Poe’s writing style as a base to explore his own, which helped shape his literature. It was his early childhood love of Poe’s stories that influenced his interesting and equally creepy Sherlock Holmes mysteries and settings.
In The Hound of the Baskervilles, there are many instances of the supernatural settings and Poe's touch of the macabre detective style. Upon first entering the Hall of the Baskervilles, Watson remarks about the “high, thin window of old stained glass, the oak paneling, the stags’ heads, the coat-of-arms upon the walls, all dim and somber in the subdued light of the central lamp” (Doyle 91). Doyle shows Poe’s style of dark humor...

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