Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Holmes and Mr. Utterson

There is an obvious connection between "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" in the fact that they are both short stories that unravel a mystery. This parallel places Holmes and Mr. Utterson in comparable positions as the detective figure in each work, yet their methods of discovery and theorizing are strikingly different. Mr. Utterson tries to maintain a rational viewpoint by assuming that Mr. Hyde is a manipulative criminal, and he relies strictly on the documented facts as we discussed last week. Despite his attempt to stick to evidence, his imagination constantly wanders but without the efficiency that arises from Holmes' thoughts. Holmes does not focus solely on the evidence; instead, he acknowledges that evidence can point in the wrong direction or be misinterpreted. This is a concept that Mr. Utterson was unable to grasp, leaving him without the full scope of information necessary to solve the mystery of Dr. Jekyll. I think the difference between Holmes and Mr. Utterson has an interesting tie in to our discussion of observation vs. seeing in class. Although Mr. Utterson sees everything just like Watson, he is unable to observe everything like Holmes. Perhaps then, observation is not only derived from visual clues but from cognitive assumptions as well? Holmes does notice the tiny details, but it is his deductions that truly separate him from Watson or Mr. Utterson.


  1. I agree with your post, especially with the part at the end about the differences between the capabilities of Holmes vs. those of Watson / Mr. Utterson. I also agree that there is a strong parallel between "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," although I think an easier comparison can be made between Watson and Utterson than between Utterson and Holmes. After all, while the observational powers of all three characters are excellent, and their rational analysis of the evidence is superb, only Holmes is able to put all of the pieces together effectively to solve the puzzle. He clearly stands apart from the other two in deductive capability.

  2. I agree with the parallel Zack points to between Watson and Utterson, which also extends, for me, to the parallels between their places between the reader and the action of the main focus of the stories. They are both a veil, a lens through which the reader understands Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes. This distancing between the reader and the subject of the stories is part of what maintains the double level of mystery, creating enigmas out of the main focus of the characterizations.