Sherlock Holmes and women

Irene Adler

The only woman in whom Holmes ever showed any interest simmilar to romantic one was Irene Adler. According to Watson, Holmes always referred to her as The Woman” . Holmes himself is never directly quoted as using this term — though he does mention her actual name several times in other cases.

 Gayle Hunnicut as Irene Adler in ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’

 

She is also one of the few women who are mentioned in multiple Holmes stories, though she actually appears in person only in one, “A Scandal in Bohemia”.She is often thought to be the only woman who broke through Holmes’s reserve. She is possibly the only woman who has ever “beaten” Holmes in a mystery; this point is unclear owing to a comment with some chronological problems in one of the stories.

However, it is important to note that Watson explicitly states, “It was not that he felt any emotion a kin to love for Irene Adler.”

 

The other women

In one story, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”, Holmes is engaged to be married, but only with the motivation of gaining information for his case. He clearly demonstrates particular interest in several of the more charming female clients that come his way; however, Holmes inevitably “manifested no further interest in the client when once she had ceased to be the centre of one of his problems.” Holmes found their youth, beauty, and energy disturb his dedication to his job.

These episodes show that Holmes possesses a degree of charm, yet, apart from the case of Adler, there is no indication of a serious or long-term interest. Watson states that Holmes has an “aversion to women” but “a peculiarly ingratiating way with [them].” Holmes states, “I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind”; in fact he finds “the motives of women… so inscrutable… How can you build on such quicksand? Their most trivial actions may mean volumes… their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin.”

Another point of interest in Holmes’s relationships with women is that the only joy he gets from their company is the problems they bring to him to solve.

Watson writes in “The Adventure of the Dying Detective” that Mrs. Hudson is fond of Holmes in her own way, despite his irritating eccentricities as a lodger, owing to his “remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women.”

 

Irene Handl as Mr Hudson in “The private life of Sherlock Holmes”, directed by Billy Wilder 

 

Watson notes that while he dislikes and distrusts them, he is nevertheless a “chivalrous opponent.” However, Holmes cannot be said to be misogynistic, given the number of women he helps in his work. 

 

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