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The Character Trait of Sherlock Holmes That Makes Him the Most Talked Fictional Character


Fictional characters’ abilities to mimic human nature and its subsequent attributes make them appealing to authors of fictional works. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character that embodies substantial human attributes, appealing to generations of readers. Arthur Conan Doyle endows this fictional character with a home, or rather an address, 221B Baker Street, which readers can physically link the character to, despite also being fictitious. This attribute of fictional characters ensures the readers can adequately connect with the character through reader response, enabling them to create essential meanings from these fictitious works. Arthur Conan Doyle endowed Sherlock Holmes with human attributes that have made the character a sensation even to 21st century readers, as it was for the targeted readers during the Victorian period. Holme’s most intriguing trait is the character’s ability to think logically in solving the mysteries he is exposed to, ensuring hope is never lost. Humans are logical and emotional beings, and Doyle’s ability to link the two ensures that the story of Sherlock Holmes lives on. This logical thinking is also connected with critical thinking in Sherlock Holmes’s problem-solving abilities. In essence, the author’s linkage of logical and critical thinking further ensures the hope of making critical and informed decisions is possible. Sherlock Holmes is further endowed with critical imagination, making it possible for the character to make informed decisions. The correlation between imagination and hope ensures that the character lives on. Imagination is the building block that ensures humans can significantly overcome multiple challenges. This is because imagination relies heavily on the hope that what is imagined can be solved. As such, Sherlock Holmes’s imagination is vital to solving the challenges he encountered, especially in murder mysteries. These attributes the author fashions Sherlock Holmes with ensuring the fictional character is the most talked about, making his name live on. Sherlock Holmes’s ability to influence hope in the readers and the character’s traits that are primarily required in modern society make him the most talked about a fictional character.


Fictional characters have undeniably saturated literary works due to their immense abilities to dramatize humanity’s attributes. Sherlock Holmes is arguably the most recognized fictional character, having “been awarded a world record for the most portrayed literary human character” in multiple literary works, from fictional films to books (Pearson 186). The sensation behind Sherlock Holmes is overwhelming, with praise and credit going to Arthur Conan Doyle for his immense contribution to the world of fictional characters. Holmes has several character traits that have made him a sensation. Like many fictional characters, Holmes’s background is that of a person who “lived in the late 19th century but never really existed” (Crittenden 334). Authors must create settings for fictional characters, as it provides an invaluable sense of action to their role. As such, 221B Baker Street, where Doyle sets Holmes, is a fictional setting to give the readers a sense of ground and create a wholesome character (Crittenden 334). Because of this grounding, Holmes has become who he is in the fictional sense that Doyle took detailed and precise settings for the fictional character. Holmes’s character traits are born out of this address, which is also fictitious. However, the address does not provide additional mystery to the story or substantially impact Holmes. This address gives the needed grounding to the story of Holmes and provides a relatable place where the audience can create the needed links to the narrative.

Holmes is awarded the needed grounding that creates a reliable fictitious story, as he is presented as a human being in all forms. This ensures that he can possess both strengths and flaws as a character enabling him to fit within the criteria of any reader’s rationale (Olsson 12). These flaws make him a significant representation of human beings, as the flaws give readers a sense of connection with the fictitious character. Despite these flaws, the character also provides enormous attributes that ordinary humans dream of possessing. These attributes include Holmes’s observational skills, being an “antisocial person, lacking empathic feeling,” and being able to “logical thinking and simplicity” (Olsson 8). As such, these traits ensure that readers can connect further with Holmes as a fictitious character since these character traits are ordinary but provide critical attributes to Holmes. Holmes is also noted to be a drug addict, a flaw to his character which impacts his personality and gives the readers a sense of connection; primarily since the Victorian period, many people used to take substantial drugs other than alcohol. As such, this drug addiction links Holmes further to the audience of his time, creating a superb connection with the readers during that time. However, modern readers also find Holmes as intriguing as he was during that period, creating a paradoxical question of which trait in Holmes’s character makes this possible. Holmes’s logical thinking creates an idea of hope, as the character ensures that hope is never lost. As a result, this logical thinking that ensures hope is never lost is why the narrative of Holmes still lives.

Logic and Hope

Humans are creatures of logic, and Holmes’s ability to use logical thinking provides the needed hope for other fictitious characters in the novel. Logical thinking and Holmes’s observation skills ensure he can easily deduce crimes. The marvels of the human mind come to life as Holmes uses logical thinking to solve even the most brutal crimes (Olsson 13). These logical skills that Holmes employs in nearly all aspects of his detective work leave other characters aware, as “Doyle reinforces this view by having Watson repeatedly admit how “ridiculously simple” (Jann 685). As such, logical thinking ensures that even the most complicated mysteries that Holmes faces are solved with simple common sense. Humanity’s ability to think logically is critical to creating hope to carry us forth every day without knowing what tomorrow holds. As such, logical thinking informs our everyday hope, as we are creatures of logic and emotion. This is portrayed in Holmes creating the notion that logical thinking is crucial in our daily lives. Holmes provides the needed hope for the police in solving crimes “who craned their necks and strained their eyes in the vain hope of catching some glimpse of the proceedings within” (Doyle 14). Hope is the only emotion that allows humans to explore the limits of their minds, as we have all gone to great lengths to create and solve our mysteries, making Holmes’s character considerably relevant to modern readers, as he was to Doyle’s original audience. The hope that Holmes brings forth in the narrative to the police, victims of crimes, and their loved ones is immense. Similarly, people wish to have the same hope that their challenges will soon end. As such, this makes the tales of Holmes live through many generations. In appealing to readers’ emotions, Holmes solves murders and other crimes that greatly represent the everyday crimes committed. In many instances, the victims of these crimes do not have to reprieve from the police, as they can hardly solve them and bring the needed closure to these families. For example, Holmes is intrigued by “the Ratcliff Highway murders” that occurred in London in December 1811 are mentioned, which gives the needed reprieve to the families of the victims of the murder (Doyle 23). In essence, hope for these families and many others, especially with the mention of Doyle, signaling that they were not alone. Holmes was tasked with solving murders mainly due to the substantial occurrences during the Victorian period when Doyle’s ‘A Study in Scarlet’ was published to give many families the hope they needed. Therefore, hope is intertwined with Holmes’s logical thinking, a reason his story, despite being a fictitious character, still lives on.

Critical Thinking

As depicted in Doyle’s fictional work, Holmes’s brilliance is still a marvel for scholars and readers alike. This is because his critical thinking abilities are far more extensive than Hercule Poirot’s (Friend 151). However, Holmes’s brilliance is “only brilliant-to-such-and-such-a-degree according to the stories,” his story captures this brilliance in multiple ways (Friend 151). One of the most formidable ways that Holmes’s brilliance is showcased is his critical thinking abilities. Critical thinking is an ability that employers are considerably searching for due to its marketability, as it “is central to tertiary education, teaching and learning, and employment opportunities for students” (Davies 529). Critical thinking abilities ensure that organizations can accomplish their objectives and, as such, make them valuable abilities. In essence, education and various professions observed the substantial benefits of harnessing critical thinking abilities (Sabade 532). Holmes’s logical thinking attribute ensured that he was able to possess these critical thinking traits as well. Holmes possesses a critical “observational, experimental, and imaginative approach alongside his ability to judge and his decision-making abilities and skills” (Sabade 533). These skills linked to this renowned fictional character create an alluring necessity for Holmes. Readers in the 21st century, due to the marketability of these critical thinking skills, are pulled to the tales of Holmes due to their ability to apply and possess these critical thinking skills. Logical thinking is arguably connected to critical thinking, as one cannot exist without the other. A significant focus on critical thinking makes Holmes still relevant today. Doyle notes, “He must have stayed in the room some little time after the murder, for we found blood-stained water in the basin, where he had washed his hands, and marks on the sheets where he had deliberately wiped his knife” (Doyle 28). Holmes’s reasoning shows his ability to think logically and critically to solve the murder. This is observed by his ability to follow the basic tenets of critical thinking, from analysis to an informed conclusion. Thus, Holmes’s ability to think logically and critically makes his tales still relevant today, especially in education and the labor markets, where these skills have become necessary for employers and students, which also furnishes the idea of hope.

Hope and Imagination

Hope is a human feeling that drives human actions toward achievement. Hope is fueled by imagination, a critical constituent of successfully navigating life’s challenges. In essence, hope is a constituent of imagination and vice versa. The significant connection is versatile as it provides the ingredients to maneuver the murky waters of life. This is the case of Holmes, who is set to reside in the Victorian period, where such attributes attacked substantial attention. Doyle notes, “There is a mystery about this which stimulates the imagination; where there is no imagination, there is no horror” (Doyle 21). As the statement notes, Holmes’s imagination was sparked by the mysteries constantly calling upon him to solve. However, modern-day life does not involve similar mysteries as the ones Holmes used to solve; everyday existence is graced by mysteries that call on us to use imagination and hope our actions will be fruitful. As Nanay’s article notes, “‘we need somehow to imagine the world (in relevant respects) as it might be following a particular choice or action under our control and decide how much we would like to be living in it” (Nanay 133). This shows the substantial importance of imagination in decision-making, which influenced Holmes’s ability to solve most of the challenges he was required to solve. The “intensity of one’s hopes” is directly related to their imagination influencing their self-understanding, as shown in Holmes’s thrill for mysteries (Mihai 504). It is safe to say that Holmes is thrilled by these mysteries he has considerably solved. Hope and imagination ensure that Holmes could solve the mysteries, as they gave him his life’s purpose or self-understanding. Professionals in multiple fields are called to re-imagine “and make the right decisions with hope and imagination” (Coeckelbergh and Mesman 3). In essence, hope and imagination portrayed by Holmes are vital attributes of any human being, especially for many professionals today, such as early childhood teachers who must “embody “robust hope,” “critical imagination,” and “critical action” (Sumsion 311). Therefore, Holmes’s ability to master the importance of hope and imagination makes his character appeal to modern readers, enabling Doyle’s fictitious character to live on.

Works Cited

Coeckelbergh, Mark, and Jessica Mesman. “With hope and imagination: imaginative moral decision-making in neonatal intensive care units.” Ethical theory and moral practice, Vol.10, no.1, 2007, pp. 3-21, Springer.

Crittenden, Charles. “Fictional characters and logical completeness.” Poetics, Vol. 11, no. 4–6, 1982, pp. 331–344, Elsevier.

Davies, Martin. “Critical thinking and the disciplines reconsidered.” Higher Education Research & Development, Vol. 32, no. 4, 2013, pp. 529–544. Taylor and Francis.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. A Study in Scarlet. Roger Squires and David Widger, 1995.

Friend, Stacie. “Fictional characters.” Philosophy Compass, Vol. 2, no. 2, 2007, pp.141-156. Wiley Online Library.

Jann, Rosemary. “Sherlock Holmes Codes the Social Body.” ELH, vol. 57, no. 3, 1990, pp. 685–708. JSTOR,

Mihai, Mihaela. “Understanding complicity: Memory, hope and the imagination.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Vol. 22. no. 5, 2019, pp. 504–522, Taylor and Francis.

Nanay, Bence. “The role of imagination in decision‐making.” Mind & Language, Vol. 31, no. 1, 2016, pp.127–143, Wiley Online Library.

Pearson, Roberta. “Sherlock Holmes, the de facto franchise.” Popular Media Cultures. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2015, pp.186–205. Springer.

Olsson, Ingrid. “Sherlock Holmes-an adaptable hero.” 2022. Diva.Portal.

Sabade, Avani. “Sherlock Holmes introduces critical thinking.” Argument: Biannual Philosophical Journal, Vol. 10, no. 2, 2020, pp. 529–538.

Sumsion, Jennifer. “Sustaining the employment of early childhood teachers in long day care: A case for robust hope, critical imagination, and critical action.” Asia‐Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 35, no. 3, 2007, pp. 311–327, Taylor and Francis.


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