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Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson


The most loved and respected character in literature history, Sherlock Holmes is an icon of the 19th century, having been featured in movies, TV series, slot games and even an eponymous museum in London. The majority of Holmes’s stories are told through his partner Doctor John Watson who, although not being the stories namesake, is considered equally as important as the man himself. We take a look at the differences between the two, their merits, and who makes a better detective?

Sherlock Holmes considers himself a “consulting detective”, which equates to assisting the police in cases they’re unsuccessful in solving. His attention to detail is unrivalled, and his dedication to his work means he often comes across as unsympathetic and aloof. Sherlock uses his unmatched powers of observation and deduction to find the only possible answer to a question or case, no matter how absurd or strange it may seem. His slightly standoffish nature means he has very few friends, with his housemate and partner Watson generally being considered his only companion.

Doctor Watson is a combat medic who returned to England in poor health after being injured in the second Afghan war. He shares his living quarters at the infamous 221b Baker Street with Holmes after being introduced by his friend Stamford. Most of the stories are told through the eyes of Watson, with Holmes acting as the main focus throughout the stories. Although generally considered no match for his partner, Watson is incredibly intelligent and very patient during his detective work, with his medical experience giving him a slight advantage. He never quite masters Holmes's deductive methods, but can be sharp enough to follow his friend's reasoning once the mystery is solved. Although usually portrayed in the shadow of his colleague, it’s generally accepted that the two complement each other incredibly well. Perhaps, it would be difficult to decide if one is truly better than the other as they both have their own merits and detractions. For instance, one flaw that often crops up is that Holmes is generally accepted to have a drug habit, one which despite the laws of the time allowing, his colleague heavily opposes. Holmes has been known to inject a solution of cocaine intravenously as a mental stimulant daily during gaps between cases, mostly due to his difficulty dealing with boredom. It would however, be difficult to label him a total drug addict as he doesn’t use the substance during his work. A brief reference to morphine by Watson could also mean that Holmes may well have been addicted to additional substances, but this is rarely mentioned. An excerpt by Watson from A Study in Scarlet says –

“Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him: but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.”

Both characters personalities rely heavily on each other, with Watson generally considered the more empathetic of the two, with Holmes coming across as the slightly colder, more calculated of the duo. Watson is generally considered Holmes’s only friend, and the detective’s opinions on love seem to reflect the idea that he considers it nothing more than a distraction of the mind. As previously mentioned, it would be difficult to say which is the better half of the coin, but it’s widely accepted that despite Watson’s incredible patience, keen eye and attention to detail, Holmes is the master detective of the two.

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Sherlock Holmes is The World's Greatest Detective. - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the canon. EVERYTHING else is fanfiction.

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