The Spirit versus the Word of the Law: The Consequences of Sherlock Holmes's Criminal Characteristics

Essay by ctt8410College, UndergraduateA+, October 2002

download word file, 8 pages 3.4

Downloaded 83 times

To even consider Sherlock Holmes, the most magnificent criminal investigator and analytical thinker ever written about, a mastermind criminal may be proclaimed preposterous blasphemy by many. Upon further investigation, however, one finds that Holmes possesses many characteristics that would make him the ideal criminal. For example, Holmes has the intellectual ability and savvy to pull off an elaborate crime with enough misdirection and confusion to not only avoid his own arrest but also produce more than sufficient evidence to incarcerate any number of perfectly innocent individuals. This capacity of Holmes's genius, along with his innate ability to disguise his physical being and transform his mannerisms, removing his individualism and making him just another face in the crowd, would make any legal pursuit impossible. Furthermore, his stature in the minds of the public as a keeper of peace who remains loyal to the spirit of the law and protects what is principally important cannot be underestimated.

The most telling characteristic, however, is that Holmes appears to consider himself above the law and shows the willingness in some of his cases to engage in criminal activity as he deems necessary. The implausible assertion then becomes a feasible possibility that through his brilliant intellect, furtive disguising, and familiarity with the criminal underground of England, Sherlock Holmes could become the greatest criminal mastermind to ever live. The prospect of Holmes as a criminal, therefore, illustrates that the intention of Holmes's practice deviates from that of the appointed law enforcement, in that Holmes enforces the spirit of the law, even at the sacrifice of upholding the written law.

Holmes's extensive knowledge and keen intellect are significant factors in what make him a great detective, but they are also characteristics that would serve him well as a criminal genius. As Stephen Knight observes, "the overt...