October 17, 2012
Word Count: 1,829
Dr. John Watson: A Complement Who Compliments
Is it possible for a person to be so clearly superior to others in intellect, observation, and reason, and yet be so utterly dependent on another in matters of routine life? It is. Such a condition exists in the brilliant personage of Sherlock Holmes, a man of renowned detective skills, who relies heavily on his ever-present assistant Dr. John Watson. To quote Dr. Watson as relating to Holmes, “I shall ever regard [him] as the best and wisest man whom I have ever known” (291). Such a compliment comes even from the man whom Holmes cannot function without, ...view middle of the document...
In cases Watson is involved in, when all seems lost to him, Holmes solves the crime. Watson finds himself incredulous as to how Holmes solved it. Holmes’ “brilliant reasoning power” (56), as Watson says, is his key to solving the toughest cases. A phrase commonly stated to Watson by Holmes is that Watson “[sees] but [does] not observe” (21). Unlike Holmes, Watson sees things the way an average person sees them, but Holmes is different. He observes. Observing is the secret to his success. Watson compliments Holmes by simply narrating about his greatness and ability to solve crimes through his genius as an investigator.
Sherlock Holmes’ second area of genius, as a master of disguise, is also revealed through Watson’s complimentary narration. Watson describes the complexity and sensationalism of Holmes’ disguises and relates how he is “accustomed to his friend’s amazing powers in his use of disguises” (28). Frequently, when Holmes is in disguise, Watson is utterly unaware that he is looking at his friend Sherlock Holmes. Watson is clearly in awe of the cleverness of Holmes, and how he is able to transform himself from looking like Sherlock Holmes into a “drunken-looking groom, [who is] ill-kempt and side-whiskered, with an inflamed face and disreputable clothes” (28) in A Scandal in Bohemia. Few people have the ability to accomplish such a task. Watson cannot imagine changing his own appearance so completely, and looks up to Holmes for his ingenuity at impersonation.
Finally, through Watson’s complimentary narration, he reveals Holmes’ genius in discernment. Watson looks up to Holmes for his ability to detect motive behind every crime or mystery that he is summoned to solve. Holmes rarely fails to crack the case and get to the bottom of it. One reason is that Holmes does not get emotionally involved in his cases. He is more worried about the case than the victims or others involved in the case. Therefore, Holmes’ judgment and discernment are not clouded due to an emotional connection. For example, Holmes figured out in “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” that the notes of the dancing men were from Abe Slaney to Elsie Cubitt because “[he] loved her. [He] had a right to her. She was pledged to [him] years ago” (359). However, Elsie did not feel the same. “She fled from America to avoid [him], and she married an honourable gentleman in England” (360). Holmes’ ability to distinguish motive here was commendable, and Watson clearly reveals his appreciation in his narrative.
Not only does Watson compliment Sherlock Holmes through his narration and biography, but Watson also complements Holmes in the roles of personal aide, counselor, friend, and protector. As Holmes’s personal aide, Watson is Holmes’ foil through a servant/master relationship. As such, Watson complements him by following his every order and living at his disposal. Whatever Holmes requires of Watson, Watson fulfills immediately and without complaint. Holmes’ having Watson’s assistance...