Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sherlock Holmes is Elementary

On today's favorite character Tuesday, I will indulge more in my love for the tortured soul by analyzing the greatest detective of all time. Although I've taught Sherlock Holmes in my literature classes and I will be so again, I've never been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Despite the dozens of stories Doyle wrote about him, Holmes is never developed past the rough outlines of his character. There is always an extreme distance between the reader and the character. Also, Holmes does everything too easily. He's too perfect to be of much interest.

When I saw that Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite characters, it isn't Doyle's creation I'm Elementary that I have in mind. Sherlock Holmes purists far prefer the Holmes in British TV show Sherlock, but I have to disagree with them. Yes, the British show portrays Holmes closer to the one imagined by Doyle than the American program, but as I said, I'm not really a fan of Doyle, and the Sherlock Sherlock is a dull character.
referring to. Rather it is the Sherlock Holmes of the TV show

The Elementary Sherlock takes pieces from Doyle's creation, but re-imagines them in ways that creates a very appealing character, the ultimate tortured soul. Sherlock is the child of a cold, unfeeling father who sent him to boarding school very young to get him out of the way and still only sees him as an annoyance to be avoided or as a chess piece to be used. Throughout the first few seasons, Holmes's father would repetitively claim to be coming to visit. Sherlock assured Watson (another great character for another time) that his father wouldn't show, and he never did. In the last season, his father takes a more active role in Sherlock's life, but only because he is using him in a game he's playing.

Because of his father's coldness (and probably other reasons), Sherlock grows up as a person unable to relate to others on a human level. He is a narcissist concerned only with himself. And he becomes a drug addict whose addiction spirals out of control and nearly destroys his life. In Elementary he is trying to put his life back together. To do so, he must learn how to be human. Watson becomes his first friend. We see him struggling to relate to her as a person rather than as a useful piece in his own game. He is often rude and selfish, but he grows as a person as the relationship becomes so important to him that he realizes that he must change his behavior in order to maintain it. I also love that the relationship remains a friendship only. There is not any sexual tension between them. They are friends and partners, not lovers or potential lovers.

But Sherlock isn't magically transformed over night by his relationship with Watson, we see him continue to struggle to apply what he's learned with Watson to other relationships in his life. He grows in a believable manner that makes him one of my favorite characters.

What's your opinion on the Sherlock versus Elementary question? What's your opinion of Sherlock Holmes in any of his manifestations?

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