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Patriarchal Society Of Sherlock Holmes. Essay

1465 words - 6 pages

During the Victorian era as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created various adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he was surrounded by a patriarchal society. The assumption that women were inferior to men was true of that period. Women were expected to stay inside, raise the children, and perform "social" tasks. Men ate meat while women ate cake, strawberries, and custard (Bird 1). In various Sherlock Holmes stories featuring females, Doyle devises plots that depend on women, however they are often silent or physically absent even though they are vital to the narrative. Females are marginalized, controlled, and contained like colonized foreign subjects (Favor 398). Conan Doyle's views pertaining to women colored Sherlock's as he created three damsels- in - distress stories, "A Case of Identity," "The Copper Beeches," and "The Speckled Band," however, Doyle's first story, "A Scandal in Bohemia" reveals opposite outlook of women (Harrison 1).According to Redmond (82), "all the women of the canon were victims-of the times they lived in....there was no need to be actually a victim, in 1895; it was quite enough to be a woman." It is not surprising that these women are not upper-class women as they would hardly find themselves in the sitting room of a middle-class detective. Sherlock Holmes's victims are the outcasts and prostitutes who are socially vulnerable enough to have problems that Holmes can solve; therefore they are the perfect damsels-in-distress (Redmond 82)."A Case of Identity" is the first so-called damsel-in-distress story in which Sherlock Holmes's role is to rescue a female victim (Redmond 81). Miss Mary Sutherland arrives to 221b Baker Street to meet Sherlock Holmes as her fiancée had disappeared on the way to the church (Doyle 48). Mary Sutherland's stepfather Mr. Windibank, had committed fraud as he disguised himself as an eligible bachelor, scheming to claim her income. His disguise involves false whiskers, dark glasses, a whispering voice, and he does not allow Miss Sutherland to see his hand writing. The interest of the story is of Mary Sutherland, and Holmes's and Watson's attitude towards her. Dr. Watson, depicted so far as a ladies man, shows no interest in her. Holmes's however, falls hard for Miss Sutherland, and takes an intense interest in solving her troubles but also in soothing the lady. This is the only damsel-in-distress story in which Sherlock Holmes refers to his client as the "maiden" which carries a sexual connotation of sexual eligibility. Holmes is sympathetic towards Miss Sutherland as he says, "You have been shamefully treated," and when he is outraged with Mr. Windibank, he shouts, "there never was a man who deserved punishment more." Watson reveals that Sherlock Holmes works hard to help the women, to prevent them from danger as they are vulnerable and require protection (Redmond 83-85).Conan Doyle's second damsel-in-distress story "The Speckled Band," is quite similar to "A Case of Identity" as it is a tale of action...

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