Sherlock Holmes with Dr. Watson

The main characters in the Sherlock Holmes series of books are Dr. Watson, who is a medical surgeon and served in Northumberland Fusiliers in the fifth regiment, and Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is a private and specialized detective with a supernatural capability to solve criminal cases.Though the two characters live and cooperate on cases together in relative harmony, they are different. In fact, on first glance they seem to have almost nothing in common. However, they have enough similarities which make it possible to understand one another. Whereas Sherlock shows a great ability in observing, Dr. Watson is also competent in picking up on details in his surroundings.

Both men are pistol sharp shooters and strong. Both are respected in their fields. Both are kind and positive to women. However, Holmes changes his perception about women later on in the stories, thinking that they are not level-headed (Waal, 1974). At the same time Watson can be considered as a womanizer. Doyle comments that “boasting in The Sign of Four is an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents.” He continues to purport that he had married many times.

They are two vivid characters, different in terms of their functions and yet useful for their purposes. Watson is aware of both his own and Holmes’ abilities. For example, he quotes that: “Holmes was a man of habits… and I had become one of them… a comrade… upon whose nerve he could place some reliance… a whetstone for his mind. I stimulated him… If I irritated him by a certain methodical slowness in my mentality, that irritation served only to make his flame-like intuitions and impressions flash up the more vividly and swiftly. Such was my humble role in our alliance.”

Despite the fact that Watson states his meek status in Holmes’ work, he can be seen as capable and brave. In fact, Watson could solve select cases alone by the use of the methods that Holmes taught him (Greenwood, 2011). For instance, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, Watson sufficiently clears up various mysteries confronting the pair. Therefore, Holmes warmly gives praise to him for the intelligence and zeal he demonstrated. However, since he lacks Holmes’ capability to focus on the essential and major details which Arthur Conan Doyle refers to as almost superhuman, Watson succeeds limitedly in some cases. Holmes remarks that, “Quite so… you see, but you do not observe.”

In the story “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist,” Watson had attempted to help Holmes in investigating the case but failed. This was mainly because he lacked an imaginative approach. For example, he asks a London estate agent residing in a particular country about the case. According to Holmes, he would have gone and listened to gossip from people in the area. Doyle also points out that Watson is guileless and hence he is not a proper detective. In the story Valley of Fear, Sherlock argues that Watson has a strain which he calls “pawky humor”, though in nature he is straightforward, whereas Sherlock is considered to be devious and secretive (Doyle & Doyle, 1930).

Though he could not master the deductive methods of Holmes, Watson is an acute man and could follow Holmes’ reasoning. In “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder,” Sherlock Holmes contends that Hector McFarlane was “a solicitor, a bachelor, an asthmatic and a Freemason.” Watson also comments in the narration role: “Familiar as I was with my friend’s methods, it was not difficult for me to follow his deductions and to observe the untidiness of attire, sheaf of legal papers, the watch-charm, and the breathing with which had prompted them.” An episode similar to this also occurred in “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot,” “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist,” and “The Adventure of the Resident Patient.”

It should be noted that despite their differences, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson lived together and were complimentary companions. The fact that they had similarities and understood one another are the major reasons as to why they could comfortably stay together as a working pair.

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