The Sign of the Four

The Sign of the Four Metaphors and Similes

"If my future were black, it was better surely to face it like a man than to attempt to brighten it by mere will-o’-the-wisps of the imagination." (97) (Metaphor)

Doctor Watson often muses on his life; that’s his way of living in the world. And just in this moment he thinks about his future. He wonders about the possibility of his future being bleak, or "black." The hypothetical frames a future in which Watson would have many life problems: he would be deprived of happiness and gladness. Watson thinks it is precisely this sort of scenario that requires one to be brave and bold.

“See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo” (121) (Simile)

This comparison shows readers how beautiful nature is. Comparing cloud with the feather gives the feeling of tenderness and lightness.

“His head kept turning to left and right with two bright little twinkling eyes, like a mouse when he ventures out from his hole” (149) (Simile)

Here Small describes one of the colorful characters he meets during his quest for the treasure. His simile is meant to suggest that the character looks frightened and behaves silently. As to his personality, he is even-tempered and likes to be imperceptible.

"He pushed the creosote handkerchief under the dog's nose, while the creature stood with its flurry legs separated, and with a most comical cock to its head, like a connoisseur sniffing the bouquet of a famous vintage" (119) (Simile)

This simile showcases not only Watson's humor in his description of the dog Toby, but also the personality of the little dog, who is confirming Holmes' suspicions regarding the case.