Thursday, September 13, 2018

Emotions Sherlock didn't show.

We all know the popular myth that Sherlock Holmes showed no emotions. But his smiles, his laughs, his concern for Watson's well-being, all of those present easily accessible to the contrary without going into deeper analyses of his pride, compassion, guilt, and all else. Yet there are emotions we see others indulge in as Watson's relates his cases, emotions that Holmes never gets to.

Fury, for example. Fury is a criminal's emotion in the lives of Holmes and Watson, an emotional onslaught so great it often results in damage, and mortal damage at that. Sherlock Holmes never shows us fury in the Canon. Had Killer Evans shot Watson to death in "Three Garridebs," one has to think it might have happened, but Watson wouldn't have been there to write it, would he?

Lust is another we don't see Holmes indulge in, or do we? "Lust of the chase" comes up in "Red-Headed League," and then gets taken a step further in "Boscombe Valley Mystery" with "His nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely animal lust for the chase." And as sexy as that nostril-flaring could sound, sexual lust isn't really something that appears in the Canon at all, unless we're talking about Baron Adelbert Gruner and his famed "lust diary" or the pig-like Ronder who made a bride of a poor circus girl seemingly the minute she hit puberty. Again, an emotion that mainly is in the realm of the villains.

Sorrow, on the other hand . . . while Holmes doesn't indulge, he speaks of it in the way of a man who has known sorrow. He speaks of "that schoolroom of sorrow where our earthly lessons are taught" in "Thor Bridge" and when you combine that with his advice to Watson in "Empty House" that goes, "Work is the best antidote to sorrow, my dear Watson," well, ponder that for a moment. Sherlock Holmes was a man who threw everything he had into his work from a young adult age. Was he so intent on his work as a constant relief for an enormous sorrow that dogged his steps from before his career? We never see Sherlock Holmes in sorrow, but that evidence . . . .

These are emotional days, with more fury and sorrow in them than lust for most of us, I'd wager. (But if I'm wrong about you, well you'd better be a good-lusting soul and not a Gruner or Ronder, who just used it to create more fury and sorrow.) Is it the fact that Sherlock Holmes held back on the worst of them that makes his tales such a good palate cleanser after a hard, emotional day of our own?

After a few strong reactions to yesterday's blog, as well as a few kindly ones, it's good to step back to 221B for a moment and catch a breath. Because so many more investigations await!

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