A Scandal in Bohemia


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Themes and Colors
Logic vs. Emotion Theme Icon
Disguise and Deception Theme Icon
Love, Friendship, and. Admiration Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Scandal in Bohemia, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Logic vs. Emotion

Unlike many Sherlock Holmes adventures, “A Scandal in Bohemia” does not present an unsolvable mystery for modern fiction’s preeminent detective. Instead, Holmes must trick a young woman, Irene Adler, into divulging the whereabouts of a photograph that could damage the reputation of his latest client, the King of Bohemia. While Holmes is famous for his use of the powers of observation and deductive reasoning to solve crimes—his assistant, John Watson, portrays Holmes…

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Disguise and Deception

The prolific use of disguises in “A Scandal in Bohemia” sends the message that not everything is what it seems, and that appearances are never to be trusted. Sherlock Holmes, the King of Bohemia, and Irene Adler all attempt to disguise themselves in order to get what they want, with varied results; the quality of their disguises, and their ability to fool those around them, is a measure of the intellectual capacity of…

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Love, Friendship, and. Admiration

“A Scandal in Bohemia” presents a number of intertwined romantic and intellectual pairings: on the one hand, there is the engagement of the King of Bohemia to the Princess of Scandinavia, the marriage of Irene Adler and Godfrey Norton, and the fling between the King and Adler; on the other hand, there is the mutual admiration between both Holmes and Watson and between Adler and Holmes. This juxtaposition of romantic and platonic love establishes a…

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In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” as with most of Holmes’s adventures, the detective serves a very unconventional form of justice that is not necessarily in line with state-sanctioned law and order. As a private detective, Holmes is deliberately separate from official law enforcement and is able to take on cases that the police could not—and he is also able to use methods that aren’t available to the police. The story ultimately suggests the justice…

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