A Scandal in Bohemia

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891) by Arthur Conan Doyle. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was a British writer of the Victorian age, and he was best known for his works of detective fiction and for creating the character of Sherlock Holmes. However, he has also written in several other genres, including historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, such as the novel The Lost World.


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Characterization of Sherlock Holmes


Holmes is not an emotional man and he believes emotions are a weakness: “All emotions […] were abhorrent to his cold, precise, but admirably balanced mind”. However, he easily recognizes emotions can reveal people’s motives: “They were admirable things for the observer – excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions”. Holmes’ character is balanced: he rarely shows his enthusiasm, but he does not seem to lack emotions entirely. For instance, when he sees Watson again after some time, Watson realizes Holmes is glad to see him, even if Holmes does not really show it. 

At the end of the story, Holmes refuses the material rewards that the King of Bohemia offers to him. He only chooses Irene’s photograph to keep as a reminder. The refusal of payment, and the choice of gift suggests that Holmes knows he had little merit in solving the case. Therefore, he honestly and graciously recognizes defeat and keeps the photograph as a reminder that he is not infallible.

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A Scandal in Bohemia

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