Sherlock Holmes Stereotypes

Superior Essays
He’s the most adapted character in the world -- he’s been played by nearly 100 different actors, and has graced the screen in more than 200 movies. From short film Sherlock Holmes Baffled in 1900 to portrayals by celebrities Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr. today, Sherlock Holmes has been a prominent figure in culture for over a century. The character of Sherlock Holmes comes with stereotypes and tropes that have become iconic in popular culture: the deerstalker hat, the pipe, 221B Baker Street, intellect, brilliant deductions, and mysteries. Although some aspects have stayed constant over time, other facets of the stories have experienced drastic changes. Considering Holmes’ popularity, a question must be addressed: to what extent …show more content…
In early Holmes films, few women featured in the movie and usually there was one main female character related to the case. Additionally, women were almost always either clients, victims, or villains, making them either helpless or evil. In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939), the only two women in the entire film are Mrs. Hudson (Holmes and Watson’s landlady) and Ms. Brandon, a young lady who comes to Holmes for help. Another example of this is in The Spider Woman (1944),where Adrea Spedding releases a venomous spider onto her victims so that she receives their inheritance and estates upon their deaths. Additionally, women that are in the story are often without much depth and are painted as hysterical when a distressing event happens. For example, in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), Mrs. Barryman, the Baskerville estate housekeeper, is distraught and nearly unintelligible upon hearing of her brother’s death, and is painted as overly emotional upon comparison to other characters in the movie who experienced the loss of a loved …show more content…
The changes are easy to see upon juxtaposition of A Study in Terror (1965) and Murder by Decree (1979), which are both Jack the Ripper murder stories and thus feature a serial killer targeting women and crime scenes are in Whitechapel, a den of vice in London’s East End. However, the victim’s portrayals are drastically different between the two movies. In A Study in Terror, the prostitutes are inaccurately dressed well: they are clean, their dresses are new and expensive, their hair is washed and exquisitely arranged, and they all seem to be having a splendid time. The victim’s murders receive little or no screen time whatsoever, but instead the narrative pauses to show each woman trying to secure the Ripper as a customer (in a ‘contemplation’ of women as objects as sexual interest (Mulvey)), who is always in shadow or out of the shot. Additionally, throughout the movie Holmes is distant and uninterested in the murder victims. According to “The Evolution of Sherlock Holmes: Adapting Character Across Time and Text,” portrayal of the women in this way results in a loss of their victimhood, because “the focus is not on their murders but on the exercise of their profession” and so “viewers are subtly encouraged to judge the women rather than their killer” (Polasek 102). Since the women neglected their “proper

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