This sample essay on Sherlock Holmes Dual Nature provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

This sense is further strengthened with the reference to Holmes as a ‘predator’ and ‘hawk-like’ who is propelled by his love of the chase. Holmes also shows a unique method of working, he will deliberate almost as if he is asleep before acting. This is shown in both stories.

In The Red-Headed League he appears to fall asleep when in fact he is merely thinking deeply of the case of Jabez Wilson; ‘I had come to the conclusion that he had dropped asleep…. when he suddenly sprang out of his chair with the gesture of a man who had made up his mind’.

This strange pattern of behaviour is shown again when they are in the theatre; ‘his languid, dreamy eyes were as unlike those of Holmes the sleuth-hound… as it was possible to conceive’ and once more in the cab his taciturn manner shows; ‘Sherlock Holmes was not very communicative during the long drive’.

This side of his character is also shown in The Speckled Band when driving down to Stoke Moran; ‘My companion sat in front of the trap… buried in the deepest thought. Suddenly, however, he started, tapped me on the shoulder, and pointed over the meadows.

‘ His ability to withdraw within himself and to detach himself is reinforced with his preference for German music; ‘it is introspective and I want to introspect.

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‘ This behaviour is shown yet again in Silver Blaze in his movement from ‘day-dreaming’ and ‘absorbed in his own thoughts’ to ‘suppressed excitement’. This essence of his character is also a strong reference to Victorian morality in the duality of human nature. Conan Doyle’s stories convey the sense of a double life led by many middle class men, in particular.

Sherlock Holmes Dual Nature

Conan Doyle conveys Holmes as possessing a character that changes from the ‘languid’, ‘dreamy’, ‘gentle’ sense of his inertia to his predatory qualities; ‘Holmes the sleuth-hound, Holmes the relentless, keen-witted, ready criminal agent’. The words ‘swing of his nature’ and ‘alternately’ further contribute to our impression of his dual nature. There is also a symbolic representation of a duality of human nature in the contrast between the ‘shabby’, ‘faded’, ‘weedy’ side of the square and the ‘fine’ ‘stately’ side that backs the pawnbroker and represents commerce.

The gap between rich and poor widened with the growth in industry during the Victorian era. The growth in wealth is shown in the metaphor of a ‘tide’ and ‘immense stream’ of increasing wealth. Dual nature is also clearly identified in Silver Blaze when Silas Brown is shown to have two personalities; ‘never have I seen such a change as had been brought about in Silas Brown in that short time’. In The Man with the Twisted Lip you will find the strongest representation of dual nature.

At the beginning of the story Holmes disguises himself as a ‘tall, thin old man’ so that not even Watson, his closest friend can recongise him. Conan Doyle describes the change in Holmes ‘his form had filled out, his wrinkles were gone, the dull eyes had regained their fire’. Doyle’s language in the paragraph conveys the duality of man and as the paragraph progresses, language marks Holmes’ transformation from ‘very thin; very wrinkled, bent with age’ to his real self. Finally he regains his ingenious disguise to ‘doddering, loose-lipped senility’.

But the strongest personification of the dual nature of man lies in Neville St. Clair who is the embodiment of Victorian double personality; one life by day and another by night. The first evidence of this lies in his two distinct writing styles of which he has a different style for ‘when he wrote hurriedly’. But the main reference to duality of nature appears near the end of the story when Holmes starts scrubbing off the beggar man’s, Boone’s, face to reveal his true persona – Neville St. Clair.

The description of the face peeled off and exposing the ‘refined’ man beneath shows the true extent of Victorian double nature. There is also a strong metaphor for the merging of the two sides of his character; ‘the horrid scar which had seamed it across’. In The Red-Headed League Holmes’s appearance is compared to that of a ‘strange bird’ with a ‘hawk like nose’. This draws an image of an almost predatory figure in the reader’s mind. This image is further reinforced in The Red-Headed League with his quick firing of questions to Jabez Wilson.

These questions reflect his razor sharp ability to extract information and also his quick-thinking mind. He is also described as a bird in The Man with the Twisted Lip when Conan Doyle draws attention to his ‘strong set aquiline features’. This description could also be in reference to the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species and the idea that human kind were descendants of animals, beasts. There is also a reminder of Darwin’s theory in The Speckled Band; ‘I have heard, Mr Holmes, that you can see deeply into the manifold wickedness of the human heart.

‘ There was a huge fear in Victorian times that men possessed a bestial quality. This also conveys the Victorian double standard because Holmes works for the good of society, but possesses something that draws him towards evil. This is reinforced again in Silver Blaze when he is described as having ‘menace in his eyes’. In the Victorian age, a certain type of novel emerged from the largely romantic literary background, the Gothic novel, which was invented almost single-handedly by Horace Walpole who wrote The Castle of Otranto in 1764.

It has been suggested, by the critic Ann B. Tracy, that the Gothic novel could be seen as a description of a fallen world. While Sherlock Holmes is certainly a hero in many senses, in that he solves crimes, repeatedly saves people from the forces of evil and restores moral values while he is at it, he could also certainly be seen as a Gothic hero. It is his strong power of perception that solves crimes, and it is his hunger for sensation that drives his crime-solving and his cocaine use.

To succeed as a detective Holmes frequently must himself descend into London’s underworld, which further reinforces the theory of a fallen world. It could be said that in all of the Sherlock Holmes stories there is a Gothic element in the form of a mysterious, inexplicable situation. This could be definitely be seen in The Red-Headed League, but to really discover the more detailed elements that constitute the genre of a Gothic novel we can look no further than The Speckled Band, which is littered with references to a true Gothic novel.

First of all there is the woman in distress, in this case taking the presence of Helen Stoner, who ‘arrived in a considerable state of excitement’. She is described as being ‘in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all dawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes’, which certainly conforms to the Gothic element of women with highly wrought emotions. There is also a woman in high state of emotion present in Silver Blaze when Mrs. Straker’s ‘face was haggard, and… stamped with the print of a recent horror’.

Also present in The Speckled Band which is an element of a Gothic story is the occurrence of a cruel, tyrannical male who threatens and harms a woman, which appears in the form of Dr Grimsby Roylott, whom Helen Stoner appears to be considerably afraid of when she tries to hide the marks on her arm; ‘you have been cruelly used’. Then there is the setting in a ruined building, Stoke Moran, which seems to be in a considerable state of disrepair; ‘the building was of grey, lichen-blotched stone….

windows were broken…. a picture of ruin’. There is also a sense of mystery and suspense as the question is posed whether or not Dr Roylott killed Helen’s sister. Also the fact that Helen Stoner has been effectively forced into living in her sister’s room could be seen as a Gothic element, as could the eerie whistle which both the sisters heard in the dead of night. Conan Doyle’s literary masterpieces are been enjoyed by thousands for almost a century now and continue to capture the hearts of both young and old.

So brilliant and absorbing are these stories that when Sherlock Holmes was ‘killed’ in The Final Problem fans complained so forcefully that Conan Doyle was compelled to resurrect him again. Holmes fans even refer to the time in between his death and revivification as the ‘Great Hiatus’. The Guinness World Records has consistently listed him as the “most portrayed movie character” with over 70 actors playing the part in over 200 films. A rare manuscript of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s final Sherlock Holmes stories has recently been expected to fetch a whopping i?250,000 at auction.

Overall there have been 56 short stories and 4 novels, written over a decade. These accounts are littered with references to Victorian England and can help people today to understand what life was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kate Manson 10S Page 1 of 5 Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Conan Doyle section.

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Sherlock Holmes Dual Nature. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Sherlock Holmes Dual Nature
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