Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mind Tricks and Illusions

In previous conversations, we have explored the Victorian fascination with optical illusions and tricking the mind. Sherlock Holmes certainly capitalizes off this popular craze. Watson and Holmes can look at the exact same situation and see entirely different realities. I imagine the audience loved trying to guess what Holmes might have noticed throughout the narrative. I think it was especially fascinating to try to fool the mind, which Doyle does quite well. In his costumes, Holmes is unrecognizable even to his best friend. Doyle is particularly dramatic in presenting Holmes' deductive capabilities by catching his visitors off guard and then slowly revealing his reasoning. This plays into the "throw away effect" that we mentioned in class today- once Holmes reveals the mystery, there is no longer any curiosity or magic about the situation. Furthermore, the reader is entertained by sharing the insight into the illusion, as if they are part of the inside joke. In this manner, Doyle creates short stories that are thoroughly engaging for both his contemporary audience and modern readers.

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