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The Sign Of Four And Cawelti: Social Prominence And The Classical Detective Story

890 words - 4 pages

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the classical detective story thrived. Also during these centuries the middle class rose to social prominence. There are many classes of people in our world. While the upper class receives all the luxuries and the lower class receives all the attention, the middle class holds the majority of the people and had the biggest voice in society. Society rises and falls with the middle class. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book "The Sign of Four" the status of the middle class continually comes into the readers mind. Sherlock Holmes, as the main character, tries to solve a mystery involving many people from the lower to middle class. In "The Sign of Four" ...view middle of the document...

Because you are within my reach again." (page 94)What Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was getting at here was that, people from the elite class of society could not marry a people from the middle and lower classes. We see this as Ms. Morstan a middle class citizen who since having lost her treasure has found love with another middle class man, Dr. Watson. Had Ms. Morstan found her treasure, Dr. Watson would have kept his feelings to himself, understanding the unwritten rules of society. It was something that was frowned upon during the early seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, getting married to someone of a different class. When people were born they had a set boundary as to how high on a social class scale they could climb.After some time those boundaries were surpassed. The middle class slowly rose to social prominence. People started to become more accepting of other hard working determined middle class people. The middle class became self sufficient. The people worked together as a community to support each other and slowly their businesses became more prosperous.Cawelti discusses the middle class in his "The Formula of the Classical Detective Story." Along with Doyle, Cawelti saw a change in the middle class as the detective story evolved into a widely read genre of literature. The force of the church and the importance of nobility dwindling, the middle class could become more confident in themselves and...

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