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Write an eassy on Is Sherlock Holmes a hero?

The Proficiency of Sherlock Holmes

The power of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s pen created a fictional private detective, named Sherlock Holmes and this character became a world famous celebrity. Sherlock has been famous for his proficiency in logical reasoning, forensic science and observation of the surroundings (Sutherland 2017). This very proficiency has fascinated the world, which has led to such high interest in this character, which is evident from the fact that Sherlock Holmes is a recognized name. Apart from the novels in which Sherlock Holmes was born, the character has had its adaptation in form of both TV series and movies. But does he really deserve this attention? Is he a hero? This essay aims at shedding some light at this very point.

Sherlock Holmes is a mythic figure, who is committed towards rights the wrongs of this universe, with a reference to the late Victorian living and working in this real world (Redmond 312). Simultaneously, Sherlock Homes is also a figure of authority, where he is given the human touches, by having flaws and a contradictory personality, where he is moody, addicted to cocaine and eccentric. He is described by his companion/ his friend, Dr. John Watson as a calculating machine. Though, “A Study in Scarlet” introduced Sherlock Holmes as an expert swordsman, boxer and singlestick player, and also the one who has Ritchie’s attention. Sherlock Holmes successfully straddles two worlds (Lycett 67). Instead of people opting for an individual with their powers as their superpower, Sherlock Holmes’s brain is what makes him a hero in the eyes of many (Porter 51).

Sherlock Holmes has been treated as a hero amongst the world and has been included in various books as a hero (Knowles 90). Alternatively, the others have covered his transformation from being a Victorian sleuth to the modern hero (Putney, King and Sugarman 30). All these point to the notion that Sherlock Holmes is a hero. This can also be evidenced from the outrage faced by Conan Doyle, back in 1893, when he tried to kill his precious creation. To show their disapproval, the clerks of the London city wore black armbands to show their mourning. But, this is a story told by an author, hence, no one knows if it was a fiction or the truth. The crux here is that even when someone is not alive, he has made the entire world believe in himself and this deems as a hero (Evening Standard 2009).

Sherlock Holmes: A Mythic Figure

And yet, a question rises, is Sherlock Holmes really a hero? Is he a hero, who can lead and inspire others and a hero whom the others should follow?  A hero is supposed to be a person who sets examples for the others, mainly for the ones who look up to their heroes. But how can a person, who pays no respect to the emotions of others, insults with constant jibes or quirky remarks and above all, a cocaine addict, be considered as a role model? Heroes are what the individual seeks to become, to fill the void in them, but if Sherlock Holmes is considered as a hero, every fan of this hero would get a free pass to insult others and even consume cocaine. This behavior could also be taken as what makes Sherlock Holmes, the super intelligent human being and this notion could prove dangerous for the followers (UE and Cranfield 95).

There is another reason for considering Sherlock as an anti-hero and this stems from the utter disrespect of the authority and breach of numerous law, in addition to interference with the police investigations. Even though Sherlock Holmes is penned as a private investigator, but this does not legalize the abuse of power. He puts himself above the manmade law and creates his own brand of natural justice (Bradley 2014).

Going back to the original story where Sherlock Holmes was born, he was never portrayed as a hero. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle portrayed him as an individual, who was flawed, despite his super intelligence. He solves the crimes which are perpetrated by individuals who are as intelligent as Sherlock Holmes. Hence, Sherlock Holmes is not a hero trying to save the world, but he is an individual who aims to be the best. And so, he solves the crimes committed by super intelligent individuals like him, as he takes it a challenge, to prove himself as the superior one. Unless he is able to solve the crime committed by such other beings, he remains perplexed and his inner self does not allow this situation. It is like playing chess, where Sherlock Holmes always wants to be two steps ahead and win the game. There is no motivation in Sherlock Holmes to help good people and if the crime is not interesting, he would not bother about it. Till the time, something poses as a challenge it would not excite Sherlock Holmes to indulge in it. At most, he could be regarded as a role model for admiring his admiration, but he is not a hero and he is not there to help the ones in need. Sherlock Holmes, as a character, is there to soothe himself and his brains (Kelly 2012).

Is Sherlock Holmes Really a Hero?

A hero is someone who exhibits nobility, bravery and courage and performs the acts of selflessness and valor. A hero possesses some unique ability in the form of super strength or the ability to fly, and is loved by its fans for the heroic actions (Tassi 268). But an anti hero is not praised, beloved or selfless. So an antihero is selfish and disliked and often is seen as a vigilante. The antihero goes to any limits to achieve his goal and this could even result in killing someone. Though, an anti hero has some sense or morale and draws the line where the lives of innocent people could be endangered (Kubli 222).

Sherlock Holmes never seeks revenge and even is not an orphan like Superman, Batman or Flash. He works simply as a detective to uncover the mysteries which were almost a plague in that time period of England. He keeps separated from the society when he is not indulged in solving a crime and there have been instances where he has been considered as a psychological damaged person who lacks in certain manner or as a social misfit. Even though he looks like a common man, he is extremely smart and is also addicted to cocaine. The character of Sherlock Holmes also has a superpower of his superhuman intelligence. Though, instead of capturing his arch enemy, Professor James Moriarty and bringing him to justice, he prefers to kill him through his weapons like his fists, riding crops or guns. A super arrogant and utterly disrespectful person, who though has smart brains, fails to be a hero.

To conclude the discussion, the answer to Sherlock Holmes being a hero is a big no. even though he is loved by lot of people and has super brains, which enables him in solving the mysteries of daily life, his negative behavior in form of social outcast and arrogance, makes him an anti-hero. Due to his fame and fan following, a number of people may conclude otherwise, but an individual who cannot teach something helpful or good to others cannot be regarded as a hero. A hero is supposed to inspire and any inspiration which draws the faith in being a drug addict or an individual with no respect for others, cannot be considered as a hero. At the most, Sherlock Holmes can be treated as a vigilante or a role model, but he can most definitely not be considered as a hero.

References

Bradley, William. Breaking Bad, Sherlock, and Television’s Golden Age of Anti-Heroes. The Huffington Post. 2014. 09 Feb. 2014. <https://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-bradley/breaking-bad-sherlock-and_b_5753554.html>

Evening Standard. Why Sherlock Holmes is a hero for our times. Evening Standard. 23 Dec. 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2017. <https://www.standard.co.uk/news/why-sherlock-holmes-is-a-hero-for-our-times-6788848.html>

Kelly, Stephen. Sherlock Holmes: a case of the insufferable sod. The Guardian. 21 Jan. 2012. <https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jan/21/sherlock-holmes-tv-antihero>

Knowles, Christopher. (2007) Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes. San Francisco: Red Wheel/ Weiser Books.

Kubli, Joshua. Invulnerable Super Hero RPG Vigilante Edition. 2015. Lulu. Web. <https://books.google.co.in/books?id=mMweCAAAQBAJ&pg=PT228&dq=anti+hero+saves+innocent&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR8oOB1KPTAhWMto8KHZpTDMcQ6AEIJjAB#v=onepage&q=anti%20hero%20saves%20innocent&f=false>

Lycett, Andrew. Conan Doyle: The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes. London: Hachette UK. 2007. Print.

Porter, Lynnette. Who Is Sherlock?: Essays on Identity in Modern Holmes Adaptations. North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., Publishers. 2016. Print.

Putney, Charles R., King Joseph A. Cutshall, and Sugarman Sally. Sherlock Holmes: Victorian Sleuth to Modern Hero. Maryland: Scarecrow Press. 1996. Print.

Redmond, Christopher. Sherlock Holmes Handbook: Second Edition. 2nd ed. Toronto: Dundurn. 2009. Print.

Sutherland, John. Sherlock Holmes, the world's most famous literary detective. British Library. 2017. Web. 14 Apr. 2017. <https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/arthur-conan-doyle-the-creator-of-sherlock-holmes-the-worlds-most-famous-literary-detective>

Tassi, Marguerite A. Women and Revenge in Shakespeare: Gender, Genre, and Ethics. Cranbury: Associated University Pres. 2011. Print.

UE, Tom, and Cranfield Jonathan. Fan Phenomena: Sherlock Holmes. Chicago: Intellect Books. 2014. Print.

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