Free Essay for You on Gender Roles in Sherlock Holmes Stories

Published: 2019-06-21
Free Essay for You on Gender Roles in Sherlock Holmes Stories
Categories: Gender Literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1138 words
10 min read

The Sherlock Holmes adventures are used to portray the prevalent ideas on women and gender roles at the time. Women are pictured as inferior to men and always need a man to assist them. Femininity is associated with weakness while masculinity is associated with strength. Women are expected to be quiet and passive. Women are typically portrayed as being part of the problem in society.

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In The Speckled Band, Roylott embodies the oppression that women suffer by killing a stepdaughter and attempting to kill another all because of an inheritance that belonged to them (Doyle, 1986). The remaining stepdaughter finds Sherlock for help. This is an indication that women are considered as weak and cannot liberate themselves from troubles that afflict them.

Roylott also objectifies his stepdaughters in The Speckled Band by sexually abusing them. The bed of his stepdaughter is clamped down. Roylott treats his stepdaughter as an object of gratification. Not only does he misuse her sexually, but also wants to financially oppress her by taking away her inheritance.

Watson in The Scandal in Bohemia believes that women are clever and cunning beings. This assertion is expressed as they try to figure out the possible hiding place Irene may have used in hiding the picture in contention. In addition, from The Scandal in Bohemia, it is evident that society frowns upon unmarried women at a certain age. Women at the age of Irene are expected to be wives.

From The Speckled Band, a general perception of the societal expectations of women in Victorian times can be established. Women were expected to be inferior to men in everything. They need the support of a man to achieve any success or liberation from affliction. In addition, they are portrayed as a source of trouble considering they are unable to defend themselves and resort to their cleverness to get out of trouble. The gender roles of the time were discriminatory and based on stereotypes. Women are considered as property, to be passed on from one owner to another.

Imagery and its role in characterization in The Big Sleep

Chandler uses a lot of similes to describe his characters in The Big Sleep. The similes are used in many instances to provide a vivid description of a character on the first appearance. The descriptions save the author a repeat when the character appears again. In the readers first encounter with Carmen Sternwood in The Big Sleep, she is described as walking as if she were floating, her teeth were as shiny as porcelain, and she lowered her eyelashes like a theater curtain, sucked on her thumb like a baby with a comforter and went upstairs like a deer (Chandler, 1992). From this description, the reader can infer that she is energetic, obviously deceptive, and infantile. Chandler probably wanted to portray her as artificial since he returns to it later in the novel. Carmen is described as behaving as if she possessed artificial lips that needed to be manipulated by springs for them to work (Chandler, 1992). Such a description is reminiscent of Victorian machinery that was mainly exposed and clumsy. In this instance, the author indirectly values the contemporary: that which is unified, practical, and regular. Chandler in many instances employs similes in early explanations of characters and then raises them again later.

The imagery in describing characters uses references to mass weight and motion. For instance, in describing the general, Chandler says he nodded, as though his neck were frightened of the weight of his head. In addition, Chandler also employed the nuances of California life and the everyday culture of Los Angeles: in describing the generals appearance, Chandler states that his scarce locks of white hair stuck to his scalp, like flowers in the wild struggling for life on a barren rock.

High Five and the Hard-Boiled Novel

The novel is not the typical hard-boiled novel, and Stephanie is not the hard-boiled detective either. To begin with, Stephanie is reliant on others a lot. She constantly needs the assistance of Ranger to get by. Ranger provides her a vehicle on many occasions even when her inability to maintain one is apparent (Evanovich, 1999). The car she is given gets stolen while she is apprehending a suspect.

Stephanie is also not a hardboiled detective because, in most confrontations, she gets away as a matter of chance as opposed to her ability to take control of situations. When she is taken hostage by a man strapped with explosives, she survives the encounter thanks to a neighbors intervention.

One aspect of conventional hardboiled detectives is their no-nonsense approach to work. Stephanie lacks a no-nonsense punch to her work and is constantly outdone by her charges. She loses the young Sheik she is supposed to chauffeur due to lack of vigilance on her part. Her car also gets stolen. High Five is different from the typical hardboiled novels because it takes a humorous stance to the genre. Detectives in hardboiled novels prefer their company and are characterized by a no-nonsense attitude unlike the indecisive Stephanie.


Stormfront is a novel similar to the hardboiled detective novel type. Dresden is the stereotypical hardboiled detective. He has character traits that are similar to the traditional hardboiled detective. To begin with, he is an individualistic character. He manages pretty well on his own and needs little or no assistance from others. In his exploits, he manages to overcome difficult situations with his experience and skills.

Stormfront is also similar to the hardboiled detective novel genre since the main character is a singular individual with a deviant habit. Dresden is a sexist man. Dresden constantly objectifies women and sees them as objects of desire as opposed to people. He constantly visualizes sex scenes (Butcher, 2000). Hardboiled detectives usually have an odd habit or habits.

The novel Stormfront is also similar to the hardboiled novel because the plot revolves around a detective who defies serious odds and emerges the victor in all situations or eventually. Dresden is faced with a lot of dangers that he overcomes constantly. The victory emerges even in situations when he is pinned down, and the odds are seriously against him. For instance, he survives after dangling from the balcony.

Dresden is also a loner. The hardboiled detective novel usually has a leading character who is a loner. The characters prefer to be alone or various reasons. Some prefer solitude to meditate while others prefer solitude due to their individuality. They mostly have peculiar habits that set them apart from other people in most instances.


Butcher, J. (2000). Storm Front: Book one of The Dresden Files (Vol. 1). Penguin Group.

Chandler, R. (1992). The big sleep. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Doyle, A. C. (1986). Sherlock Holmes Mysteries The Complete Novels and Stories Vol. 1. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Evanovich, J. (1999). High five. New York, OH: St. Martin's Press.

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