A Study in Scarlet's Depiction of the Victorian Era

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A Study In Scarlet Essay

Often, the success of a piece of literature is not only dependent on that work’s entertainment value, but also the relatability of it to it’s core demographic. In A Study In Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used the issues of the Victorian era to make his novel applicable and appealing to the people of his time period. Doyle, through the implication of the Mormon religion, the development of Sherlock’s character and the display of moralities in the Victorian era, creates the perfect atmosphere for not only entertainment, but also appeasement of the masses.

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Initially, when Doyle introduces Sherlock’s character, he generates the ideal, eccentric detective, with nearly omnipotent deduction skills. He establishes Sherlock, and illustrates him as a clever, quick-witted investigator. Rapid urbanization in the Victorian era meant that anonymous crime was concentrated in populated cities and towns, such as London. Sherlock’s position as a detective and his amazing ability to seemingly solve crime without the slightest setback, allowed for the people of heavily populated London to feel supported and reassured of the reduction of crime in the city. As noted by Watson at the beginning of the novel, Sherlock also has great knowledge of modern sciences, especially chemistry and anatomy. The Victorian era was a time period of great scientific advancement, with most of the population straying from a dependance on religion and moving towards empiricism. Creating Sherlock’s character to be methodical and scientific im habit produced a modern and academic hero for London’s masses to put their faith in. Lastly, unlike many rogue, rebellious protagonists, Sherlock is of Britain’s upper-middle class, and is graceful and elegant in his mannerisms. Ideology and moralities of the Victorian era suggested that those of lower classes were seen as less respectable than those of the middle class. By making Sherlock’s character an almost aristocratic individual, the author’s demographic came to respect him as someone to be trusted and revered. Sir Doyle’s precise and careful development of Sherlock created the ideal, trustworthy protagonist for his novel.

The novel’s situation in the Victorian era also added to its relatability and subsequent popularity. The novel portrays Lucy as innocent and domestic – the Victorian ideal for a lady. During the Victorian era, it was quite important that women conform to society’s expectations for them. They were to be extremely homely, familial individuals who were subservient to their husbands or fathers. The correct portrayal of Lucy in the novel expresses these values of the Victorian era perfectly. Watson also displays model values for the time period, because he served in the war in Afghanistan. Another notable Victorian value, that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself held dearly, was that of imperialism and nationalism. Watson’s valiant and courageous background makes him the ideal narrator of the story. Watson’s career as a war doctor also exhibited Victorian standards. In the Victorian time period, doctors were admired and held in high esteem for their great knowledge and authority in society. They were known for their integrity and heroism. Positioning Watson as a doctor created a reliable and honest narrator. Many if the values of Victorian society were displayed through Doyle’s portrayal of characters.

A Study In Scarlet also contains descriptions of the Mormon community that serve to promote Victorian values, while antagonizing the beliefs of Mormonism. Doyleś portrait of the Mormons in the novel makes them seem like a cruel and punishing society, which could be saved by being brought into the modern era of ¨the Empire¨. Even though America was fully independent in the Victorian era, many Britons still viewed it as a colony that needed to be developed and advanced into the contemporary world. The imperialistic attitudes of the Victorian era are displayed through this, especially because of the conflict between Jefferson Hope and the Mormons arises in the United States, but is settled in Britain, proving the ¨superiority¨ of the British system. Also, when the Mormons find John Ferrier and Lucy in the desert, they tell them that they may join them on the dentition that John and Lucy both convert to Mormonism. By creating this situation, Doyle labels the Mormons as a conformist religious community. The importance of individualism was held in high regard in Victorian London. And illustrating the Mormons as counter to this value automatically made their community and it’s ideals seem like the novelś antagonists. Their religion, which is based heavily on the strict adhering to rules and guidelines also seems to contradict the ideals of the Victorian era. During the Victorian period, people were beginning t0o abandon the idea of religion as a necessity and instead turn to science in order to explain the nature of the world. The Mormon tendency to rely on religion as the basis of life seemed to the Victorians ancient and obsolete, therefore opposing the British Victorian value of empiricism. Doyle antagonizes the Mormon religion in order to promote British Victorian ideology in his novel.

A Study In Scarlet, gives great insight into the values and ideals of the Victorian era. The novel encompasses social issues and subject matter which was relevant to the Victorians who read it, and so it´s popularity is not astonishing. Each of the character, conflicts and communities in the novel refer to many of the morals shown by the British Victorian society at the time. Even though the novel is fiction, Doyle manages to produce a seemingly non-fiction novel out of fabricated characters and events.

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