Two detectives, one from over a century ago in London and the other in modern day United States, provide an interesting look at how detectives’ minds work. Both are brilliant and emotionally distant, but approach life and work very differently from that point. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective living in London, who borders on genius and has impeccable logical reasoning. He uses forensic science and a multitude of disguises to solve even the most difficult case. In the story His Last Bow the author describes Holmes as being 60 years old, and as the story takes place in 1914, we can deduce that Holmes was born in 1854.
Not much of Holmes’s early life is ever described, but we know he developed his skill of deduction and reasoning as an undergraduate. He pursued early cases from fellow university students as an amateur. In The Adventure of Gloria Scott, we learn that he decided to take up detection as a profession after an encounter with the father of one of his fellow university students. After college he spent time as a consulting detective. Because of financial difficulties he looked for a roommate, finding Watson.
This new relationship is where the stories begins Holmes is described as “bohemian” in his lifestyle and habits by Watson. Watson also says in the Musgrove Ritual that Holmes that he is eccentric, with no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order: “Although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind…he keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very center of his wooden mantel piece…. He had a horror of destroying documents…. Thus month after month his papers accumulated, until every corner of the room was stacked with bundles of manuscript, which were on no account to be burned and which could not be put away save by their owner. ”
We see by this description of Holmes that he doesn’t keep his things neat and organized. Although things may appear to be unorganized, Holmes knows exactly where everything is and to Holmes things are very organized. Holmes seems to be somewhat emotionless and detached from women. He has never felt any emotion or love towards them, even the infamous Irene Adler.
A Scandal in Bohemia describes how Holmes thought of Adler: “To Sherlock she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler…yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory. ” In the story The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton Holmes is engaged, but this is only to gain information for his case.
Holmes has several cases where he works for women. He finds their youth, beauty, and energy invigorating, but distinct from any romantic interest. Watson once said of Holmes that he inevitably “manifested no further interest in the client when once she had ceased to be the center of one of his problems. ” As we can tell by the stories and Watson’s descriptions, Holmes would most likely have nothing to do with women had they not had problems they needed him to solve. Holmes’s entire life seems to revolve around cases, and cases alone.
John H. Watson is Holmes’s sidekick, and for what Holmes lacks with his eccentricities and detachment, Watson compensates for with his personality. Watson is Holmes’s friend, assistant, and roommate; he is the narrator in all but four of the stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Dexter Morgan is a blood splatter analyst for the fictitious Miami Police Department. Like Sherlock Holmes, Dexter is brilliant, unstable, emotionless, and detached from normal human interactions. When Dexter was three years old, his mother brought him and his brother to one of her drug binges in a shipping container.
Three men entered while they were in the container. As two of them guarded the exit, the other man, a drug dealer, proceeded to kill the adults with a chainsaw. Dexter’s mother pleaded with the men not to kill her in front of her children. She looked toward Dexter, gave him one final smile, and told him to close his eyes and that she loved him before she was brutally killed in front of a three year old Dexter. The killers left, leaving Dexter and his brother sitting in their mother’s blood for two days.
Dexter’s older brother Brian would always remember their experience, while it shut down Dexter emotionally. For the rest of Dexter’s life, he would not know how to relate to other humans anymore. After the boys sat in the blood soaked shipping container for two days with their mother’s dead body, the police arrived. The first person on the scene was Detective Harry Morgan. Harry picked up the youngest child, Dexter, and took him home to live with him. Though Dexter was three when he was rescued, Harry officially adopted Dexter at the age of seven.
By the age of ten Dexter’s murderous urges began to take shape. One day while on the family boat, Harry confronted Dexter about the neighbor’s dog, which Dexter had killed and buried along with several other small animals. He asked Dexter if he had thought of killing anything bigger, like a person, and Dexter answered affirmatively but said he hadn’t thought of anyone in particular. At the age of twenty-one Dexter had to be admitted to the hospital for heart disease. Here Harry spots a nurse who kills people by overdosing them on morphine.
Harry gives Dexter “permission” to kill her. This is where Dexter at the direction of Harry first learned who to kill and how to get away with it. Dexter is very smart as shown in his job as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police Department. He always seems to know what happened right away. Dexter considers himself emotionally “divorced” from the rest of humanity. In his narrations he often refers to “humans” as if he is not one of them. Dexter often makes remarks to an internal feeling of emptiness. “My name is Dexter. Dexter Morgan.
I don’t know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a… hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions but I feel like I’ve faked them all and I fake them very well. ” Dexter has no feelings or conscience, and the emotions he does show are all part of an act to conceal his true nature. At one point Dexter is married for a while, and considers his relationship with his wife as part of his “disguise. ” Unlike Holmes, Dexter does not have a sidekick. He does however have a “dark passenger. ” Dexter’s “dark passenger” is a psychological manifestation of Harry Morgan.
Dexter needs to kill, and when he doesn’t, his life becomes unstable. Harry saw this in Dexter and helped him channel it. Harry taught Dexter who and how to kill without ever being caught. This established the “code of Harry” which allowed Dexter to choose the right victims, blend in with the rest of society, and not get caught. While both Holmes and Dexter were both emotionally detached, they both were brilliant and solved crimes better than any of their counterparts. While Holmes used his logic to better mankind, Dexter did not.
Even though Sherlock Holmes was first written in the late 1800’s, the character is still popular today, maybe even more so There have been movies and television shows in modern times depicting Sherlock Holmes and his impeccable detective skills. Sherlock Holmes may even be responsible for the massive popularity of crime detective shows such as Matlock, Columbo, Murder She Wrote, and modern shows like Dexter. People love to see a mystery and figure out what happened themselves, and that is what most likely keeps the detective stories alive. Much of this can be attributed to Sherlock Holmes.
January 9, 2018
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