Connecting "Sign of the Four" to the Real World
This week we read the first 6 chapters of "Sign of the Four".
Hopefully, the story itself is in no way relatable for anyone-- it is filled with death, greed, and crime. However, the characters within the story are relatable in many ways.
The first instance of a relatable character is Holmes himself. Watson describes this relatability within the first few pages of the story, "I had observed a small vanity underlay my companion's quiet and didactic manner." Often times when someone is talented in some way, they politely deny that they are in any way special. Deep down, however, they enjoy the attention to some extent. In fact, all of us, if not most of us, have experienced this. We internally believe we are very good at something--golf, painting, singing, etc. When praised, we are humble, making excuses like, "Oh no, I'm not really that good." and "I have a long way to go before I'm where I would like to be", but we enjoy the spotlight nonetheless. Everyone enjoys being praised, even the mechanical Sherlock Holmes. In Holmes' case, he enjoys Watson's surprise when he correctly deduces something--in fact, Watson even writes that Holmes was "chuckling at my surprise". (In BBC Sherlock's episode, The Sign of Three, this theme of showing off is apparent, see photo below)
|Implying that Sherlock keeps all his deductions to himself until the|
"final reveal", just for the sake of showing off and gaining the spotlight.
Another character that was (hopefully) less relatable, but more of a role model, was Mary Morstan. In the reading, Ms. Morstan endures the loss of her father and her inheritance, and is present when a dead man is found in his room, his body stiff, twisted, and contorted by a paralytic poison. Through all of this, Ms. Morstan is shaken, but does not show her fear and is described by Watson as he takes her home: "she had borne trouble with a calm face as long as there was some one weaker than herself to support, and I had found her bright and placid by the side of the frightened housekeeper." (Technically, this description comes in chapter 7, but its within the first few lines, so I'm going to use it). Ms. Morstan is an example of someone who can control themselves and contain their feelings until it is appropriate to express them (she later bursts into tears, again Chp 7), and thus is a good role model for anyone experiencing emotional trauma.