Character Study: SHERLOCK HOLMES
As portrayed in the BBC series SHERLOCK.
Sherlock Holmes is introduced to us as a person of strong personal motivation. He lives a unique and solitary life. He has a bubble around himself, and he interacts on the surface with a few key people. He is, overall, relatively comfortable in his existence.
He is, however, troubled by a mind that, “races out of control”. He must always be solving problems or he stagnates. He does this by working with the police on unsolved cases. He does this without pay for the challenge. Without challenge, he gets bored and turns to drugs.
Sherlock, as a person, has a purely temporary stability. He is currently balanced or shall we say settled in a place of relative safety, but many things could throw him off.
- He could OD on drugs.
- He could get injured chasing criminals.
- He could get arrested by the police for solving a case too well.
He is emotionally isolated. He has no friends. His brother, Mycroft, loves him, but they don’t like each other. They casually hurt each other when they are together.
When I look at how the character is portrayed, he seems like a person suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. He is sensitive to things happening around him, but he doesn’t understand people and their emotions instinctively. He has learned how to logic out the emotions of others, but he doesn’t feel things like other people do.
Look at this video about Aspergers and see if you can see the similarity.
Aspergers and phobias
Sherlock can observe people very closely and find out all about them, yet he was the only one at the Christmas party who couldn’t tell that Molly had dressed up to impress him.
Although relatively young, Mycroft and Sherlock live a life of financial ease. This suggests their parents were rich. I say they were rich, because they are most likely dead. I think that if they were alive, we would see them.
When it comes to observation, Mycroft has the same skills as Sherlock, so this is probably something that they learned at their mother’s knee. Understanding emotions is a survival skill, and this scene suggests that they both naturally lack the emotions that others exhibit naturally.
Sherlock: They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there is something wrong with us?
Mycroft: …Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock
John Watson is a very different person from Sherlock Holmes. He can definitely feel and care. This makes a sharp contrast between the two of them. John feels that Sherlock should care about other people, but Sherlock cannot understand why John thinks this is even important.
When John is upset, Sherlock has to reason it out, and ask him to confirm that it is so. He does not instinctively feel what others feel.
Because he cannot easily sense emotions, Sherlock begins to rely on John to tell him what others are feeling. In this scene he notices others staring at him and he asks John
Sherlock: Not good?
John: Bit not good.
This becomes part of their relationship. Sherlock always looks to John to tell him when he is going too far. John takes a role where he checks Sherlock, pointing out when he is trampling on the feelings of others.
Sherlock’s older brother,Mycroft, is an imposing character full of power and menace. John, however, will berate him when he acts inappropriately just as he does Sherlock, and Mycroft will listen to him!
MYCROFT and JOHN
Mycroft’s relationship with John is really very interesting and it is not cannon with the books. In the Conan Doyle stories, there is virtually no relationship between John Watson and Mycroft Holmes, but in this series they go from an antagonistic start,
to friendly discussions about Sherlock,
to Mycroft being hurt by John’s bad opinion. (Notice how he uses his first name).