Date of Award

Spring 4-4-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Classical Studies

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Alisa M. DeBorde

Committee Professor

Dr. Anita Simpkins


Sherlock Holmes is a name synonymous with detective and perhaps more familiar to households than his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His lasting impact as a literary figure is indisputable, but the curiosity surrounding the reasons for his longevity in popularity remain an enigma to many scholars and critics. In my thesis, I will discuss some of the reasons Holmes relates to readers from various time periods, age groups, and nationalities for more than a century. The first section of this project will establish the empiricist culture surrounding the decadent late 1800s, which compose the setting for most of Doyle’s stories. Steeped in modernity, this fin de siècle period neglected traditionalism and exasperated its citizens with strict positivism. Examining The Sign of Four and “The Red-Headed League,” the next section of this thesis will demonstrate that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle utilizes his character Sherlock Holmes as a literary antidote in natural resistance to his society’s impositions of science and reason alone. Lastly, this analysis will examine the type of logic Sherlock Holmes employs in his stories and why it is vital for mankind to combine logic with imagination in order to be both productive and content.

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