A Scandal in Bohemia

by

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Sherlock Holmes Character Analysis

Sherlock Holmes is a private detective who has been contracted by Wilhelm von Ormstein, King of Bohemia, to confiscate photographic evidence of the King’s previous affair with a woman named Irene Adler. The King has sought out Holmes and his assistant Dr. John Watson due to their reputation for solving difficult and delicate cases throughout Europe. To address the King’s issue, Holmes and Watson don various disguises, gathering information about Irene’s life. Eventually, while disguised as a clergyman, Sherlock tricks Irene into letting him into her home and he discovers where she is hiding the photographs. While he plans to return the next day to steal them, Adler outwits him—she is gone by the time he returns, leaving him a letter that promises never to ruin the King’s life, but keeping the photographs for herself. Above all, Sherlock values intelligence and cunning, and rarely finds another individual whose mental faculties match his own. Even his closest friend Watson can only marvel at his deductions: when the two men are reunited after quite some time apart, Sherlock is able to deduce a number of minute details of Watson’s life within the first few seconds of seeing him. Adler, however, is the only woman he would ever consider his intellectual equal, and he seems to think of her wistfully and almost romantically. Sherlock’s rare intelligence is a boon to his detective work, but it sets him apart from those around him, and his lack of social connection keeps him almost completely isolated. He is also eccentric, eschewing most human interactions and choosing instead to isolate himself in his home at 221B Baker Street, consumed either by cocaine use or a mystery to solve.

Sherlock Holmes Quotes in A Scandal in Bohemia

The A Scandal in Bohemia quotes below are all either spoken by Sherlock Holmes or refer to Sherlock Holmes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam Dell edition of A Scandal in Bohemia published in 2003.
Part 1 Quotes

You see, but you do not observe.

Related Characters: Sherlock Holmes (speaker), Dr. John Watson
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

There will call upon you to-night, at a quarter to eight o’clock… a gentleman who desires to consult you upon a matter of the very deepest moment… Be in your chamber then at that hour, and do not take it amiss if your visitor wear a mask.

Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:

Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity to miss it.

Related Characters: Sherlock Holmes (speaker), Dr. John Watson
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

“Your Majesty had not spoken before I was aware that I was addressing Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein, and hereditary King of Bohemia.”

Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

“The facts are briefly these: Some five years ago, during a lengthy visit to Warsaw, I made the acquaintance of the well-known adventuress, Irene Adler. The name is no doubt familiar to you.”

Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

“That is excellent. I think, perhaps, it is almost time that I prepare for the new role I have to play.”

Related Characters: Sherlock Holmes (speaker), Dr. John Watson
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:

“He’s a brave fellow,” said a woman. “They would have had the lady’s purse and watch if it hadn’t been for him. They were a gang, and a rough one, too. Ah, he’s breathing now.” “He can’t lie in the street. May we bring him in, marm?” “Surely. Bring him into the sitting-room. There is a comfortable sofa. This way, please!”

Related Characters: Irene Adler (speaker), Sherlock Holmes
Page Number: 256-257
Explanation and Analysis:

Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes.

Related Characters: Irene Adler (speaker), Sherlock Holmes
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3 Quotes

“From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a very different level to your Majesty”

Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:

“Your Majesty has something which I should value even more highly,” said Holmes. “You have but to name it.” “This photograph!”

Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sherlock Holmes Character Timeline in A Scandal in Bohemia

The timeline below shows where the character Sherlock Holmes appears in A Scandal in Bohemia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Doctor John Watson declares that his friend and former housemate, Sherlock Holmes, is a man with a “cold, precise, but admirably balanced mind,” especially when it comes... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Recalling when Holmes met Adler, Watson notes that he had recently gotten married, and their difference in lifestyles... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Watson can tell that Holmes is happy to see him, despite his typical cold and calculating manner. Holmes greets Watson... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Holmes invites Watson to read the letter he has received from a potential client, who announces... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
...apartment wearing a mask and dressed luxuriously, calling himself Count von Kramm, a Bohemian nobleman. Holmes insists that Watson be allowed to stay for the consultation, and the man begins to... (full context)
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
...tried to buy and even steal the photo and letters but have had no luck. Holmes takes the case, telling Watson to return at three o’clock the following day. (full context)
Part 2
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Watson arrives at 221B Baker Street at exactly three o’clock the next day, but Holmes has not returned. Watson waits for an hour, when a “drunken-looking groom” arrives. Watson finally... (full context)
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
While Holmes was still observing Irene’s house, Godfrey Norton arrived, spent about half an hour in the... (full context)
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Holmes took part in the ceremony, still dressed in the disguise of the out-of-work groom, and... (full context)
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Holmes asks Watson if he will help, even if it means breaking the law and running... (full context)
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Once Watson has agreed to the plans, Holmes changes into his disguise—that of a clergyman. Watson notes that his friend does not simply... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
As they wait for Irene, Holmes and Watson discuss her marriage to Godfrey Norton, guessing that she will not want her... (full context)
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...earn money by helping her. The situation quickly turns into a fight among the men. Holmes, still in disguise as the clergyman, steps forward to help Irene and is struck to... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Once the men are reunited on the street, Holmes explains to Watson that he employed everyone on the street, other than Irene, as part... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Holmes and Watson make plans to retrieve the photo the following day, in the company of... (full context)
Part 3
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Watson spends the night at 221B Baker Street. In the morning, he and Holmes are met by an excited and impatient King, who asks if they have the photo... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...her housemaid informs them that she has already left England for Europe, never to return. Holmes rushes to the hiding spot in search of the photo and finds instead a different... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
In her letter, Irene explains that she realized too late that Holmes had tricked her into revealing her hiding spot, but that she had turned the tables... (full context)
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Holmes apologizes to the King for an unsatisfactory ending to the case, but the King is... (full context)