The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Literary Elements

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Literary Elements


Detective story, mystery

Setting and Context

The actions take place in London, the late 19th century

Narrator and Point of View

The mystery, which consists of twelve detective narrations is recounted by a first- person- by Dr. Watson. He relates about his experiences and Sherlock’s detections. Also there are many conversations in the form of dialogues between the characters.

Tone and Mood

Investigations of different murders always keep readers in mysteriousness and it is really effective. The tone and mood of Watson’s narrations is suspenseful. We know less about Sherlock’s investigations and that’s why it attracts the reader.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The main protagonist of this story is Sherlock Holmes. But each narration of the detective story has its own antagonist who always prevents Holmes to solve the crime. For example, in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” the main antagonist is Dr. Grimesby Roylott

Major Conflict

The major conflict is based on the clash of justice and lawlessness. At the end justice gains a victory.


In the narration “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” the climax occurs when Miss Hatty Doran gets to know that her husband Frank is alive. And that’s why she escapes from the wedding.


The story has many example of foreshadowing. In the narration “The Five Orange Pips” characters receive a letter with five orange pips. These pips foreshadow the death of the main character. And when Sherlock’s client John Openshaw gets this letter, he dies.


In all the stories the way Sherlock solves the crimes is not vividly described, the author gives only hints, but not direct statements. Thus, the truth is suppressed till the very end. This method keeps the narrative intense and the reader attentive.


The story mentions many outstanding figures: French authors-Gustave Flaubert and George Sand Horace, British novelist George Meredith, Roman poet Horace, violinist Pablo de Sarasate, murderers William Palmer and Edward William Pritchard.


Imagery plays an important role in the context, especially the author turns to it when describing appearances, crimes places, some important details which are crucial to the understanding of the plot.


Some detective narrations have paradox. For example, in “A Scandal in Bohemia” the action of the story takes place in March 1888 with Watson’s mentions of his recent marriage. However, Watson married to Mary Morstan - the heroine of the story "The sign of the four", whom he met only in September 1888.
In “The Red-Headed League” when Dr. Watson starts to listen to the story of Mr. Wilson, Holmes asks him to write the release date of the newspaper. Watson calls the date "27 April 1890. Exactly two months ago". Later we see from the story of Wilson that the current date (the date of the dissolution of "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League") - October 9, 1890.



Metonymy and Synecdoche

“His sharp eye is able to notice every little thing, to put them together and draw an image”, sharp eye in the example refers to Sherlock himself.



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