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Literary Devices In A Scandal In Bohemia Extra Quality

Literary Devices in A Scandal in Bohemia

A Scandal in Bohemia is one of the most famous and popular stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. Watson. The story was first published in 1891 in The Strand Magazine and later collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1892. It is notable for being the first short story to feature Holmes, as well as for introducing the character of Irene Adler, who is regarded as Holmes's only female adversary and the woman who outwitted him.

Literary Devices In A Scandal In Bohemia

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In this article, we will explore some of the literary devices that Doyle used to create this captivating and memorable story. We will focus on the following aspects: setting, point of view, characterization, plot structure, and themes.


The story is set in London, during the Victorian era, which was a time of great social and technological changes. The story reflects some of the contrasts and conflicts of this period, such as the gap between the rich and the poor, the rise of urbanization and industrialization, and the influence of foreign cultures and politics. The story also shows how Holmes uses his knowledge of the city and its inhabitants to solve his cases.

The story takes place at three main locations: Baker Street, where Holmes lives and works; Briony Lodge, where Irene Adler resides; and St. Monica's Church, where Adler gets married. These locations represent different social spheres and levels of respectability. Baker Street is a modest but comfortable place, where Holmes can exercise his intellect and creativity. Briony Lodge is a luxurious and elegant villa, where Adler enjoys her wealth and fame. St. Monica's Church is a sacred and solemn place, where Adler escapes from her past and secures her future.

Point of View

The story is narrated by Dr. Watson, who is Holmes's friend, assistant, and biographer. Watson is a reliable and trustworthy narrator, who provides an objective and detailed account of the events. He also expresses his admiration and awe for Holmes's abilities and methods, as well as his curiosity and confusion about some of his actions and motives.

However, Watson is not an omniscient narrator, who knows everything that happens in the story. He only reports what he sees and hears, or what Holmes tells him. Therefore, he sometimes misses or misunderstands some clues or details that are important for the solution of the case. For example, he does not notice that Holmes has disguised himself as a groom or a clergyman, or that Adler has recognized him as well.

By using Watson as the narrator, Doyle creates a sense of suspense and surprise for the readers, who follow the story from his perspective. The readers are also invited to participate in the investigation, by trying to solve the mystery before or along with Holmes.


The story features three main characters: Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and the King of Bohemia. Each of them has a distinctive personality and role in the story.

Sherlock Holmes is the protagonist and the hero of the story. He is a brilliant and eccentric detective, who uses his powers of observation, deduction, and disguise to solve complex and unusual cases. He is also a man of honor and justice, who helps those who are in need or wronged by others. However, he is also cold and aloof, who prefers logic over emotion, and who has little interest or respect for social conventions or authority figures.

Irene Adler is the antagonist and the foil of the story. She is a beautiful and talented woman, who was once an opera singer and a lover of the King of Bohemia. She is also a clever and cunning woman, who manages to outsmart Holmes and keep her secret safe. She is also a woman of courage and dignity, who does not succumb to blackmail or threats from anyone.

The King of Bohemia is the client and the victim of the story. He is a wealthy and powerful monarch, who wants to retrieve a compromising photograph from Adler before his marriage with another princess. He is also a selfish and arrogant man, who cares only about his reputation and his interests. He does not appreciate or respect Holmes's work or Adler's feelings.

Plot Structure

The story follows a classic detective fiction plot structure, which consists of five stages: introduction, development, climax, resolution, and conclusion.

The introduction presents the main characters (Holmes,













The development shows how Holmes investigates the case by visiting Briony Lodge,

disguising himself,


setting up a plan.

The climax occurs when Holmes realizes that he has been tricked by Adler,

who has escaped with her husband


the photograph.

The resolution reveals how Holmes finds out where Adler has hidden the photograph,


how he obtains it from her.

The conclusion explains why Holmes decides to keep a portrait of Adler as a souvenir,


how he admires her for being smarter than him.


The story explores several themes that are common in Sherlock Holmes stories,

such as:

- The power of reason vs. emotion: The story contrasts Holmes's rational

and analytical approach to solving problems with Adler's emotional

and intuitive one.

- The role of women in society: The story challenges some of the stereotypes

and expectations about women in Victorian society,

by portraying Adler as a strong,


and intelligent woman,

who can match or surpass Holmes in wit

and skill.

- The conflict between appearance and reality: The story shows how appearances can be deceptive,

and how reality can be manipulated or hidden by using disguises,


or lies.

- The importance of justice vs. law: The story questions some of the moral

and legal implications of Holmes's actions,

by showing how he bends or breaks some rules or laws

in order to achieve justice or help his clients.

Literary Devices

One of the main literary devices that Doyle uses in A Scandal in Bohemia is irony. Irony is a contrast or discrepancy between what is expected and what actually happens. There are several examples of irony in the story, such as:

  • The title itself is ironic, because the scandal is not really about Bohemia, but about the King's personal affair with Adler.

  • The King's disguise as a simple traveler is ironic, because he is actually a very prominent and recognizable figure.

  • Holmes's admiration for Adler is ironic, because he usually dismisses women as inferior and irrational.

  • Adler's escape and deception of Holmes is ironic, because he is supposed to be the master of disguise and deduction.

Another literary device that Doyle uses in A Scandal in Bohemia is foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a hint or clue that suggests what will happen later in the story. There are several examples of foreshadowing in the story, such as:

  • The King's remark that Adler has "the face of the most beautiful of women and the mind of the most resolute of men" foreshadows her intelligence and courage.

  • Holmes's observation that Adler has a photograph of herself and the King on her dressing table foreshadows her attachment and loyalty to him.

  • Watson's description of Holmes's portrait of Adler as "the daintiest thing under a bonnet" foreshadows his affection and respect for her.

  • Adler's note to Holmes that says "I love and am loved by a better man than he" foreshadows her marriage and escape with Godfrey Norton.

A third literary device that Doyle uses in A Scandal in Bohemia is symbolism. Symbolism is the use of objects, actions, or characters to represent abstract ideas or concepts. There are several examples of symbolism in the story, such as:

  • The photograph represents the power and danger of secrets, as well as the bond between Adler and the King.

  • The smoke rocket represents Holmes's cunning and creativity, as well as his willingness to bend or break the law.

  • The portrait represents Holmes's admiration and defeat, as well as his recognition of Adler's superiority.

  • The church represents Adler's escape and salvation, as well as her respect and gratitude for Holmes.

Summary and Analysis

A Scandal in Bohemia is divided into three parts, each of which advances the plot and reveals new aspects of the characters and the mystery.

Part 1 introduces the main characters and the problem. Watson visits Holmes at Baker Street and finds him engaged in a chemical experiment. Holmes deduces that Watson has recently been to a doctor and has been busy with his practice. He also tells Watson that he has a new client, who turns out to be the King of Bohemia. The King explains that he needs Holmes's help to recover a photograph from Irene Adler, a former lover who threatens to expose their affair and ruin his marriage with a Scandinavian princess. Holmes agrees to take the case and asks Watson to accompany him.

Part 2 shows how Holmes investigates the case and devises a plan. Holmes and Watson go to Briony Lodge, where Adler lives, and observe her daily routine. Holmes disguises himself as a groom and befriends her coachman. He learns that she has a frequent visitor, a lawyer named Godfrey Norton. Holmes follows Norton to a church, where he witnesses him marrying Adler. Holmes then returns to Briony Lodge and stages a false alarm of fire. He pretends to be injured and is carried into Adler's house. There, he sees her rush to a secret hiding place, where she keeps the photograph. Holmes marks the spot with his eyes and leaves.

Part 3 reveals how Holmes is tricked by Adler and how he obtains the photograph. Holmes and Watson return to Baker Street, where they receive a note from Adler. She tells them that she has recognized Holmes in his disguise and has escaped with her husband and the photograph. She also assures them that she will not harm the King, as she loves Norton more than him. Holmes is stunned by her cleverness and admits his defeat. He then goes back to Briony Lodge with Watson and the King, where he finds a portrait of Adler in place of the photograph. He takes it as a souvenir and tells the King that he can marry without fear. 6c859133af


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