Sherlock Holmes is still a brilliant character


Sherlock Holmes is still a brilliant character

I don’t even know how to start this one, y’all. Let’s start with where it began. Popdust recently published a piece about Sherlock Holmes titled “Millie Bobby Brown’s New Movie Reveals Why Sherlock Holmes Is a Lousy Character.”

To preface, the Conan Doyle estate is suing Netflix because they claim Sherlock Holmes, played Henry Cavill in Enola Holmes, shows too much emotion, which they allege violates the copyright that still exists on a few of the Sherlock Holmes stories, according to a report from the LA Times.

The piece argues Sherlock is not the dynamic character fans have loved over the generations.

Before we get into why that’s not the case, let’s start with Sherlock Holmes the character outside of the Enola Holmes universe.

The Popdust article contains two lines at the beginning that are what I want to look at first.

"He’s a misogynist, a drug addict, a condescending and ignorant man. But even that whole mess isn’t enough to make him actually interesting."

"He’s got some impressive speeches and some flashy tricks, but he’s seemingly devoid of an internal life."

All right, let’s start with the first one. All those things are true, but what is deemed a “whole mess” is actually Conan Doyle giving what could be a perfect “Mary Sue but male” type character actual flaws. He’s not perfect. He has a drug habit. It’s one of the things that makes him human. He is drawn to the addictiveness of the drug (as so many people are) when in other places he is so unnervingly strong-willed and logical.

Yes, he’s a big misogynist (so is Benedict Cumberbatch’s version, by the way). And, it’s probably because Conan Doyle was one himself. Let’s just say Conan Doyle was not in favor of women getting the right to vote.

It shows the limits of Sherlock’s mind. He could tell you everything about yourself within two minutes of meeting you, but if you were a woman, his brain would stop there (unless you were Irene Adler).

Since when do flaws not make a character more interesting? Sherlock Holmes has to have limitations or he turns into a god-like character that no one will ever like or relate to. And while this is primarily about Sherlock, Dr. Watson isn’t exactly a saint either. He’s racist in a few of the stories.

As for a being “devoid of internal life,” a person doesn’t go through bouts of fatigue and depression, which Sherlock does in the books without having an internal life. Why do we never see much of this internal life? Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s because the stories are told by Dr. Watson.

And speaking of Dr. Watson, how can Holmes care so much for someone, which is shown multiple times in the books and in almost every adaptation besides Enola Holmes, and not have an internal life?

It’s hilarious to allege Sherlock doesn’t show any emotion. Sherlock is never an emotionless robot. He can’t be emotionless, have depression, and care for Watson as much as he does. That just doesn’t make sense.

By saying Sherlock only had emotions in the last books, the estate is merely trying to get the last pennies out of something that is quickly losing its copyright. It is being presented as fact when it’s not.

Additionally, using the fact that Conan Doyle got tired of writing Sherlock as a reason for why he must be a “lousy” character is ridiculous. Any writer wants to have a little variety in their lives. He hated the character simply because he wanted to write about something else and those who read the stories wanted more.

According to reports, Conan Doyle was very interested in spiritualism and fairies, but because of his fame and what he became famous for, he really wasn’t allowed to do that professionally. I don’t think it had anything to do with Conan Doyle hating the characteristics he gave Sherlock Holmes.

Stating that Sherlock is a lousy character, it just doesn’t add up. Almost every victim that comes to him gets justice, he rarely asks for anything in return unless the person is very wealthy, and he only works with the cops when he has to. He also regularly makes fun of their lack of intelligence and ignorance. In this day and age, how is that a “lousy” character?

Sherlock is a character who always gets justice, who (almost) always solves the crime, who gives the reader a thrill and a satisfying ending. What more could we want when justice and fairness seem so far out of reach?

As you can probably tell, I am biased. The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes has gotten me out of dark times. When you feel like there is no hope, escaping into a book where you know there will be a resolution (along with some shocking reveals) feels like something to hold on to.

As for the stories of Sherlock Holmes being done over and over again, well, audiences (me included) don’t exactly seem to be wanting it to stop anytime soon. Whether it be Enola Holmes, the Lady Sherlock series from Sherry Thomas, the recently wrapped up Charlotte Holmes series from Brittany Cavallaro, or any other Sherlock retellings coming to the screen or to a bookstore near you, the famous consulting detective is certainly not going anywhere.

What are your thoughts on Sherlock Holmes? Let us know in the comments below!

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