Will the Real Irene Please Stand Up?

To all others, she had a name. But to Sherlock Holmes, she was simply “The Woman.”

In A Scandal in Bohemia, the first story about the great Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we meet the only woman ever to outsmart him. The King of Bohemia comes to ask Holmes’ assistance in recovering a portrait of him and Irene Adler, to avoid a scandal on the eve of his impending engagement. Holmes gladly undertakes the case but is stunned to later discover she saw through his ruse and escaped with the portrait. She leaves instead in her hiding place a picture of herself. Holmes keeps it on his mantle as a reminder of women’s cleverness.

Since its inception, the story has been interpreted in many different ways in books and on film. There is a series of novels about Irene Adler; there are novels about the child she had with Sherlock Holmes (what the…?); and in the movies and on television the many faces of Irene Adler and the nature of her relationship with Sherlock Holmes is explored in unique ways.

Sadly, few of them have ever gotten the story right. Most make the fatal error of having Irene in love with Holmes, or Holmes in love with Irene. Never mind that lovely Irene has found love with a lawyer and married him in secret. And never mind that Holmes is as asexual as men come. You simply cannot have two such clever minds cross one another’s path without a crush being involved… right?

It all, of course, hinges on the fact that Holmes keeps her portrait… not out of unrequited affection, but in honor of the one person who ever outsmarted him… a woman, no less!

The adventures of Mr. Holmes were written in the 1880’s/1890’s, at the height of the Victorian era. It was a time of propriety and bustles, of chivalry and a completely different attitude toward women. They could not vote and were subject to the whims of their husbands. Into a society that by modern standards could be considered chauvinist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought to life a woman more clever than his brilliant detective. Irene may reveal her hiding place in a moment of panic but is smart enough to see through Holmes’ disguise, and has the last laugh. It is not Professor Moriarty, his arch-nemesis and the lord of the underworld, that out-smarts Holmes, but an American opera singer.

Imagine a time when women were regarded with affection but little respect for their intellect and Irene Adler becomes a feminist icon. She may also be the reason for Holmes’ distrust of women in later stories; he admires their intellect too much to trust them.

But it is not enough that it is her mind that captures the fascination of Holmes. The irresistible urge in cinema insists on it being her sexuality as well, which undoes the full impact of the original story. I suffered through watching Holmes besotted with Irene in a ghastly Hallmark film. I  grimaced my way through the big-screen Sherlock Holmes where it is implied he and Irene once had an affair. But it wasn’t until Moffat’s Irene in Sherlock that I wondered why such a modern woman is less impressive than the original.

If one trap is in writing in a love story between Holmes and Irene, another is in putting her in league with Professor Moriarty, who pulls the strings both in the big screen film and in the television series. Rather than a woman of considerable talent, Irene in Sherlock is a lesbian dominatrix to the wealthy upper class, particularly the royal family. Instead of outsmarting Sherlock, she gives him a whipping, but in the end is outdone when he reveals that she has fallen for him. Not only that, she’s been taking all her orders from Moriarty rather than using her own smarts. And in the last thirty seconds, Holmes has to save her because she cannot do it herself.

Once again strength is confused with sexuality. Making Irene a dominatrix is the fulfillment of male fantasy, in which a beautiful woman inflicts sadistic punishment. It is pandering to men. If the idea in making her a lesbian was to appeal to the gay community, Moffat failed by making her fall for a man. (So she is a lesbian only because she hadn’t met Holmes yet?) If Moffat wanted to please feminists, he shouldn’t have had Holmes rush in there at the last minute to save her life. If he wanted to stay true to the asexuality of Sherlock Holmes, he shouldn’t have had Sherlock so interested in her. It’s ambiguous whether or not he “loves” her or is just intrigued by her, but either way you look at it, no one wins. If Moffat thought he was making her stronger by being sexually dominate, he was wrong. Instead, he degraded Irene into the sex object she never was in the original, which means his story has less respect for Irene than Doyle’s, written in the 1891.

The real Irene Adler was clever on her own terms. She did not need to use her feminine charm on Sherlock Holmes to outsmart him. She did not need the help of Moriarty to pull it off. She had no romantic interest in Holmes, and he had none in her. She is the ideal feminist icon for the Victorian era, a woman who outsmarts the cleverest man in England, and makes off with the one thing that a powerful man, a monarch, wants taken away from her… off she goes, now married to another man she loves, with no interest in anything other than self-preservation. Her portrait winds up on the mantle at 221B Baker Street, and to the most famous detective of all time, she is known as “The Woman.”

Irene does not need to flash Sherlock Holmes or the audience. She does not need to give Holmes a whipping, or to rely on Moriarty to help her execute her clever plan. She doesn’t need to be in love with the great detective, and doesn’t deserve to be degraded into an object of lust. It is not because Irene is a woman that she succeeded in earning the respect of the cynical Holmes; it is because of her mind. To make her anything else is disrespectful of the very thing Doyle wanted us to admire about her.

If true feminism is about equality, and learning to respect women for their intelligence rather than their sexuality, it seems tragic that our society has it less right in modern times than Doyle did in an age before women could vote. He understood strength and cunning, and that a woman could be more and use more than just her sexuality to accomplish great things. Modern writers clearly don’t understand this, or they would not keep making Irene Adler into a woman she was never intended to be. ♥

53 Replies to “Will the Real Irene Please Stand Up?”

  1. Oh, yes, thank you for this! xD As much as I like the BBC Sherlock I have some issues with almost every character’s interpretation and definitely the most with Irene!

  2. Hmm…interesting analysis. Personally, I think that, unfortunately, we are expecting too much of Moffat (and even the BBC at large) if we approach the show with the expectations that characters will be pure, or straight, for that matter. While I certainly disagree with his interpretation of Adler, it didn’t much surprise me. The lesbian thing didn’t surprise me either–there’s quite a bit of promotion of homosexuality in BBC shows nowadays and Moffat writes plenty of it.
    While I wasn’t as impressed with Season 2 as Season 1, I’m still eager to see more. I love Benedict Cumberbach–or Cummerbund however on earth you spell it–and Martin Freeman’s performance as Watson has me unbelievably psyched for The Hobbit!

    1. You’re right, you can’t expect much from a left-wing station like the BBC… but I am disappointed so little respect has been paid to traditional characters. I think I have that right, at least. And I do find it ironic that Moffat’s Irene is way more sexist than the one written in the 1880’s!

      Benedict is wonderful. It’ll be hilarious to hear him play Smaug to Martin’s Bilbo.

      1. If you think the BBC is left-wing, that can only be because you’ve never encountered our Channel4!

        I’m so stoked about The Hobbit, I can’t even tell you.

      2. Yes, proclaiming a woman ‘liberated’ because she uses her body to control other people is definitely ironic. I think another reason there’s quite a bit of homosexuality is that Mark Gatiss is one of the co-writers of the show and he’s homosexual. He plays a delightful Mycroft, though!

        Lol I just watched the trailer for The Hobbit again. Eep!!! <–that was a controlled squeal of excitement!

  3. “As someone who has written extensively about Irene and in a sense, made her your own, do you find it frustrating to see her thus depicted? Or do you just look at it as a different interpretation of the character?”

    I’ve made my statement about Irene Adler (and women’s roles in fiction as well as in life), as others have made theirs, before and since. My most recent Adler novella, “The Private Wife of Sherlock Holmes,” explores the reader expectation/hope that Holmes and Adler might have a romantic interest in each other. The reason Irene Adler is happily married in my series isn’t because Doyle started that, but because I wanted a female protagonist who is interesting and adventurous and fun without being available romantically. Way rare in genre fiction.

    It did annoy me that William S. Baring-Gould postulated that Godfrey Norton beat Irene so she left him and had a one-night stand with Sherlock Holmes in Montenegro, which produced Nero Wolfe. It was absurd, of course, but Irene said in the story she’d married “a much better man” than the King of Bohemia. To have her husband be abusive once again undercuts her judgment and intelligence.

    I do find it frustrating that no one else wants to take that leap and interpret the character with much more substance. I suppose I should thank them for keeping my interpretation unique. 🙂

  4. Personally, I don’t think she is in love with him–she was playing him to the end, including making him THINK she was in love with him. (“I took your pulse and your eyes were dilated.” Please. Like no woman has ever psyched herself up. Not to mention, as a dominatrix, just the idea of winning him would excite her.) After all, now she has him watching her back, as was shown in the last scene of Sherlock. As fr whether she’s lesbian or not–she lied about so much, why not lie about that?

    1. That is possible, but doesn’t explain her use of his name as the lock for her phone. Is that her final challenge? Is it because she assumes in all his arrogance he will never think of it? Or does it mean something more?

  5. I’ve heard a few people be cross about BBCIrene giving into BBCSherlock’s (debatable) charms, and I’m not sure that’s an entirely balanced assessment. Yes he tricks her into giving up the location of her phone, she is fond enough of him to make his name the password of a phone she wants him to break into, and she calls him for help at the end, but he’s no less gullible in the episode. If she’s playing second fiddle to Moriarty, so does he for most of the two seasons. In the space of his first few meetings with Miss Adler Sherlock is rendered completely clueless about her, stammers during their conversation, is distracted enough by her that she blindsides him with the syringe, has his house broken into, is manipulated for his cleverness, and when she calls for help at the end He Shows Up! He’s just as bad as she is.

    I agree with you about the dominatrix element, accompanying innuendo and ceaseless flirting – it was unnecessary overkill just to try and shock us – but it’s interesting to me that you see the lesbianism as a gimmick, because I read it as something else. When BBCIrene says she’s gay she’s speaking to John about how they are both in the same boat when it comes to Holmes. John loves Sherlock because he’s his friend, but he’s not IN love with him. Irene’s point is that she’s in love with him not either, and yet she, like John (“Look at us both”), seems to end up orbiting Sherlock.
    Adler and Holmes are obviously intrigued and delighted to finally find someone to play high stakes brain games with them all day long, and certainly Sherlock is a bit clueless about attraction in general which she does try and use to her advantage, but not because they’re romantically attached to each other. She can’t be and he refuses to be. Rather they both love a challenge, they both want to be the best, and since Adler is one of a very few people smart enough to keep up with him I think Holmes will always think about her with a slightly mad grin on his face.

    As for ‘Elementary’, I’m not holding out much hope.

    1. You bring up a good point, and another reason why Moffat’s Irene Adler episode ticked me off. He promised to stay true to Sherlock Holmes. He said in interviews that he respected the fact that Holmes is asexual. And then he gives us an episode in which Sherlock Holmes is a dupe — confounded, caught off guard, and utterly taken in by Irene Adler. But that brings us back to the original point — it’s not for her mind, her genius, or anything else. It’s because Irene prances around in front of him naked. She teases him about being a virgin. She leaves orgasmic moaning messages on his phone. Sherlock is bewitched.

      If you want me to, I can write an entire whining article about what Moffat has done to Sherlock Holmes. I’m disappointed in him for the reasons you mentioned, particularly in the last episode of season two when we find out that Moriarty has utterly beaten, manipulated, and made a fool of him. That angered me. That disappointed me. Holmes has been my favorite literary figure since childhood. He needs to be treated with greater respect.

      I have heard the Irene/gay argument before and I’m not entirely certain I buy it. I think given the chance, she WOULD sleep with him.

      The only good thing about “Elementary” is with Watson being a girl, at least there won’t be slash fanfiction. =P

      1. I think she’d sleep with him, I’m just not sure that means she loves him.

        Heh, now that is true. I’m not sure which I’ll hate more; the current glut of slash fiction when there isn’t any in TVSherlock (because most fanficcers seem not have read the books) or TVSherlock pretty much endorsing the massive and endless tsunami of shipping that will inevitably follow a female Watson. So many websites to avoid, so little time…

        1. It doesn’t, no, but it does mean she’s attracted to him… and if so, does that mean she’s not a lesbian after all?

          “So many websites to avoid, so little time…”
          HAHAH. I love that. And I hear you. I love Tumblr, but sometimes… =P

          1. “Particularly in the last episode of season two when we find out that Moriarty has utterly beaten, manipulated, and made a fool of him.” See, I’m not sure about that either. I half wonder if Sherlock let him, since from the beginning we know he was annoyed by all the attention. I won’t find out until season 3, but in my ideal scenario Sherlock deliberately let it get that far to get a) Moriarty b) the police and c) the press off his back all in one go. You have to admit, apart hurting from poor old John, Sherlock comes out of that episode very well.

  6. When it comes to writing about sex and women, men have a tough time getting it right. 🙂 I agree that Gayle Hunnicutt’s Irene Adler and that episode is the most true to the Doyle story, especially for emphasizing that Adler and Holmes shared a love of music. When “cheapening” Irene Adler, it’s always overlooked that she was an opera singer, not simply an actress. Singing opera, especially with no mics, is a demanding profession that can’t be “faked.” So while the King of England’s ex-mistress could go on the stage simply because everyone wanted to see her, Irene had to study for years to sing opera. That alone makes her a woman of substance, not some “Victorian bimbo.”

    1. You bring up an excellent point. To be an opera singer, you had to have a real set of pipes. It reminds me of a scene in “Daniel Deronda,” when the Jewish pianist and music teacher tells Gwendolyn Harleth that she may do fine in “London drawing rooms, but no high ceilings.”

      I tend to become very protective of literary figures, almost to the extent of seeing them as “real people.” I have a hard time when other writers take them and do something totally out of character for them. (For example, the recent Guy Richie adaptations make me want to bang my head against the wall.)

      As someone who has written extensively about Irene and in a sense, made her your own, do you find it frustrating to see her thus depicted? Or do you just look at it as a different interpretation of the character?

  7. Kudos! This is an elegant presentation of why the “Sherlock” portrayal of Irene Adler betrays one of the rare Victorian strong women characters. I’m the author of the Irene Adler series of eight novels–written because I questioned why no women had ever written Holmes Canon-derived novels and why no woman character from the Canon had been “spun off” as a protagonist of new adventures. “Good Night, Mr. Holmes” was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1990 and retells “A Scandal in Bohemia” from Irene Adler’s point of view, along with narrating her early adventures moonlighting as a private inquiry agent while struggling to advance her singing career.

    The show is all hers as she and husband Godfrey Norton and friend Nell Huxleigh have further adventures in Paris, Monaco, Prague and New York City. Holmes, and sometimes Watson, enter and depart as continuing minor characters, and the duel of wits continues in “The Adventuress, A Soul of Steel, Another Scandal in Bohemia, Femme Fatale, Spider Dance.”

    Books five and six, “Chapel Noir” and “Castle Rouge,” form a duology in which three women pursue Jack the Ripper after Whitechapel. That’s another first! I was exasperated by all the male authors/film directors who have “sexed up” the tragically homeless women victims of the Ripper and destroyed their humanity as much as he did.

    Your closing comment is missing a word: “[Doyle] understood strength and cunning, and that a woman could be more and use more than just her sexuality to accomplish great things. Modern writers clearly don’t understand this, or they would not keep making Irene Adler into a woman she was never intended to be.”

    It’s modern MALE writers (and film makers) who don’t understand this and need to hypersexualize Irene Adler. Many of my readers have expressed naive hopes that my Irene Adler series could be filmed for the old PBS Mystery series (now Masterpiece where “Sherlock” runs), but it’ll never happen until women screenwriters and directors have more power and control of the purse strings.

    So the same stereotyped and weakened Irene Adler will appear and reappear, even if she’s “modernized” and punked up with a whip and an alternate lifestyle.

    1. Thank you for dropping in and sharing your thoughts! I’ll have to look your books up. (I’m particularly interested in your take on Jack the Ripper. I’ve always been fascinated with that mystery but disappointed in how… sexed up most adaptations are of it.)

      Poor Irene. She has been so misrepresented over the years. I agree, mostly it is because of male writers who do not respect her for her mind, but rather imagine her into some sort of highly sexualized being. She was only depicted properly once — in the Jeremy Brett series. (Which frankly, I don’t care for in general, because I think he was miscast and the entire series went off the rails in later seasons.)

    2. I second all that! Carole, your Irene books are my favorite books of all time! You really did get Irene right.

      Charity, awesome, thoughtful post. The opening line is especially great.

  8. Yes! I wholeheartedly agree, and it make me angry that it’s Moffat doing this. I know he’s better than this.

      1. Moffat is quoted in an interview as saying that Adler was not a very good “villain” of “femme fatale” in the original story and that her big victory was merely that she “moved house” with her husband, so the ending was a disappointment to him. He figured the reason she was important was that Holmes “fancied” Irene, even if he couldn’t admit it. This–and I’m not saying I dislike Moffat–but this, to me, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the character. She was never meant to be a villain or a femme fatale. You can think Watson protests too much about Holmes’ lack of interest or take it at face value, but he admired her for her mind and her sense of honour (letting the king off the hook in the end), and if she needs a lot of help from Moriarty or she has no honour, that’s not the character. Her losing and needing rescue were bad, but, for me, these things took place after she was shown to be an ungracious winner and a traitor, lacking in any quality that Sherlock Holmes would have admired in the first place.

        1. … I think I just lost a bit more respect for Moffat, if he couldn’t figure out that Irene wasn’t a villain so much as a victim smart enough to protect her own interests!

          You’re right about the ending being rubbish… and you’re also right about the modern Irene having nothing for Holmes to admire.

          1. First of all, I see I have a typo in my previous comment. I meant ” ‘villain’ or ‘femme fatale,’ ” not ” ‘villain’ of ‘femme fatale,’ ” although that is a somewhat interesting construction. (And for the record, I am looking forward with hope to *Elementary.* I even started a Facebook page in support of Lucy Liu as Watson.)

            Here is the link to the Moffat interview. I also include the quote (typos included). I can’t tell you if he was misquoted or not, but that is the interview, and he hasn’t disavowed it, as far as I am aware.

            http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/05/07/479306/steven-moffat-on-sherlocks-return-the-holmes-watson-love-story-and-updating-the-first-supervillain/?mobile=nc

            “When you’re looking at what causes a scandal in Bohemia as opposed to Belgravia, you have to up the ante a bit, and Irene Adler doesn’t really qualify as a bad girl anymore. She’s an opera singer who married a man and moved house, as far as I can see. As far deadly femme fatales go, she was a little bit on the limited side. I remember when I was reading that story as a kid, Sherlock goes on and on about The Woman, the only one who ever beat him, and you’re thinking, he’s had better villains than this. And then you click: he fancies her, doesn’t he? That’s what it’s about.”

          2. Ugh, and now my quotation marks are wrong! They didn’t show up as curly quotes when I was writing them! I wish I could edit these posts. Alas. What will be wrong with this one, I wonder?

          3. Don’t fret about mistakes in comments. I rarely ever notice them, myself. =)

            Goodness me… first, he thinks Irene Adler is a “bad girl” (for what, exactly?) and then he assumes well, Sherlock Holmes must fancy her? He really doesn’t understand Holmes at all, does he?

  9. in the end, Adler was still respected by Holmes for the puzzle she gave him and kept him guessing on for months. The general modern-day audience simply needs the gimmick of lesbian dominatrix in order to stay interested for more than half a second. Instead of obsessing over what went wrong, focus on what went right – Holmes respected Adler’s mind enough to get her out of trouble, at a point only after he had been bested by her. He came to her rescue out of respecting her mind…. however that was presented (twisted and inaccurate in the modern BBC version, yes, I agree completely), it was still Holmes respecting Adler for her mind above all else and seeing her as his equal.

    1. DOES the modern audience need a gimmick of a lesbian dominatrix to stay interested, or is that Moffat thinking so little of his viewing audience that he assumes we are all ADD? One of my friends said that the greatest insult you can do as a writer is to assume your audience is stupid, and that you either need gimmicks to hold their attention or to explain everything.

      Moffat has a great audience. His first season was great and received with enormous respect. In some instances, his audience is more clever than he is. Why would he need to assume a gimmick for the second season to hold our interest?

  10. I never had the background to know whom Irene was supposed to be, but I’m not surprised that modern writers treat her with so little care. It’s disappointing to see that objectifying women has become such a successful marketing move in film and TV, even sometimes with the professed idea of “equality” patched on, as if objectification and a focus on the sexual showed a woman’s worth.

    1. You should read the short story, if you ever get the chance. It’s the first of the short stories about Sherlock Holmes, which makes Irene even more remarkable. Instead of introducing us to his sleuth as an unbeatable genius, Doyle instead has a woman outsmart him right off. He begins the short story collection with one of Holmes few failures!

      What I don’t understand is how objectification is still around, when our society is so obsessed with the idea of feminism. Objectification is the opposite of feminism, yet so many women foolishly mistake it AS feminism. No, it isn’t. You are not a feminist if you use your body to manipulate men. Whores have been doing that for centuries. True feminism is about being respected for your mind, not desired for your body.

      1. I definitely should read it. 🙂 Surprisingly, I’ve never actually read any of the original Sherlock stories, even though I’m familiar with some of them. I think it was a much more interesting and wise literary decision for Doyle to make Irene an intellectually powerful woman. It really doesn’t matter so much whether or not Sherlock would have been attracted to her versus the idea of what she *was*, and what image that gives us of Sherlock- which is imperfect, rather than the stereotypical solve-all sleuth.

        Our society is obsessed with feminism, but the problem is that it is all different “flavors” of feminism, so that though by some definitions I am very much a feminist, by others I wouldn’t want to touch feminism with a 10-foot-pole. Objectification marketed as freedom for women is definitely one of those ideas I wouldn’t want to touch. =P And I agree. Whores have been doing that for centuries.. modern society just makes whores seem more classy.

        1. *GASP*

          You must! It’s demmed good reading, if I do say so myself. Knowing that a large portion of what went into those stories was actually based on the cases of Dr. Joseph Bell makes it even more fabulous. Bell was the Victorian Sherlock Holmes — but with a huge dose of Christianity on the side, which is nice.

          Moffat has been… diminishing Sherlock this season. I’m not sure I like it. First, Irene manipulates him. Then, Moriarty outsmarts him. Uh-uh. No. BOO.

          It is a shame that the very word “feminist” has been so maligned. Sadly, there is no other word to express it.

          1. “Cases” as in deduced things about patients? At least that’s what I think you must mean. All those stories in which Bell plays Holmes to Doyle’s Watson as they investigate crime (*Murder Rooms,* etc.) are fictional narratives, too, and some were based on Doyle’s stories rather than vice versa. But you were probably referring to the deducing.

            “Feminist” is a fine word. I am also fond of “spinster” and wrote an entire (short) essay extolling its virtues.

          2. Yes, “Murder Rooms” was inspired by the works of Doyle, not the other way around, however, Doyle must have certainly observed Bell at work in order to come up with many of Holmes’ deductions.

            Dr. Bell was an inspiring, humble man. There’s a particularly great biography out there about him called simply “Dr. Joe Bell.”

            He achieved great success at a young age by becoming a professor and senior surgeon in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; he established the first nursing school system in Scotland, and wrote some of the first college medical textbooks; he was a prolific writer of lectures, monographs, and medical essays, as well as the editor of the Edinburgh Medical Journal, one of the world’s leading medical magazines. He was educated alongside Robert Louis Stevenson, mentored Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, knew Florence Nightingale, and was a favorite of Queen Victoria. He was known as a peacemaker, a voice of calm reason among the flaring tempers of his colleagues when it came to permitting women to attend medical school, and a man of faith.

            He also assisted the Crown in criminal cases. Bell was involved in solving what Scottish papers called “the biggest crime of the decade” in 1893. A tutor insured his student for a large sum of money and then twice tried to kill him in an “accident.” At the request of the court, Bell and his associate Dr. Littlejohn exhumed and autopsied the body. They revealed the fatal injury did not match the witness’ testimony. Bell was dubbed by the papers “the original Sherlock Holmes.”

            His keen instincts and attention to detail made him invaluable in criminal cases. In 1888, a series of brutal attacks on prostitutes left London stunned. Scotland Yard was desperate to find the culprit and elicited advice from specialists across the United Kingdom. Bell and an associate were sent the information the police had gathered, studied the case separately, and when they exchanged their findings were gratified to see that they had reached the same conclusion. While officially the murders were never solved, it is notable that within a week of Bell submitting his hypothesis, the Ripper killings ceased.

            If interested, you can read more about him in this issue of Femnista (page 8).

            “Feminist” was a beautiful word, until it became associated with “man-hater.” “Spinster” on the other hand… hmm…

          3. “Feminist” is still a beautiful word. You also need to be a “masculist,” and the two together make you a “humanist.” “Spinster” also rocks. As I say, I wrote an essay about it. I think if we are not going to use “spinster,” we should use “bachelor” for both (or all) genders and let “bachelorette” die the ignominious death it so richly deserves. But that’s just me.

            Thanks for the clarification on Bell. I’m aware of the biography, although I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’ve seen some strange fiction-for-fact posts, so I was just checking. I’m not convinced by any of the many people who claim to have solved the Whitechapel murders, but it’s interesting to speculate.

          4. I think it’s interesting to think about the fact that the Ripper murders just… stopped. It means either the Ripper died, went to prison for another crime, left the country… or the case was solved and no one was told. I can think of only one explanation for the latter — the person responsible was someone of significance, and it would have been shameful to his family (or another high-profile) family to bring that out. I think the speculation about the Ripper’s ties to the royal family are a bit far fetched, but in that light I can certainly see where that speculation came from.

  11. “Moffat degraded Irene into the sex object she never was in the original, which means his story has less respect for Irene than Doyle’s, written in the 1880’s.”

    Bravo!

    Do you know what’s almost worse? I work with fans of the show and no one seems to mind Irene’s massive personality overhaul. They don’t appreciate or even know that she was admired for her mind in the original story, not for whatever it is Sherlock admires in her because that sure isn’t her smarts.

    Moffat truly brutalized Irene, in every way way possible.It’s upsetting and angering to any Holmes fan of a semi-purist nature.

    Did you know there’s going to be another modern Sherlock Holmes show? It’s set in New York (yikes!) and John Watson is no longer male but Joan Watson. I’m surprised you didn’t hear my shriek of despair and frustration. It’ll be called “Elementary” should you choose to look it up.

    What is the world coming to?

    1. Many people don’t mind it, which just shows how little respect our modern culture has for integrity. If you valued integrity, you would not like modern writers imposing modern, sexulized viewpoints on classic literature. You would not like them butchering another author’s vision.

      Yes, I did. I have even seen a few minutes of it — what a bore-fest. I’m not worried about it. I give it four shows before it’s cancelled. (Of course, it doesn’t help that I don’t like Johnny Lee Miller. I didn’t like him in “Mansfield Park.” I didn’t like him in the new “Emma,” and he’s about as Sherlock Holmes like as Leo DiCaprio, which is to say — NOT.)

      1. I saw the first promo for it (“Elementary”) the other day, and while it will likely be cancelled, it looks fun. You Holmes purists have to “let up.” LOL! Just kidding. ;D

    2. The sad thing is: This is still one of the BETTER renditions of Irene Adler. I’m not kidding you, nearly every adaptations which features her gets her wrong, most of them falling for the romance angle…at least this one keeps it somewhat ambiguous. I also don’t think that making her a dominatrix is the problem, the last twenty minutes of the episode is. The moment they made her a criminal, depending on Moriarty’s advice, they proofed that they didn’t get what the character is really about. But when they also made her beg and casting her into the damsel role at the very end (instead of leaving her fate open for interpretation), that was the moment they ruined the while episode.
      Nevertheless, at least they don’t have an outright love affair. Thus said…the best Irene Adler is still the Granada one. But then, it’s the only adaptation which really took care to portray her character as the impressive woman she was.

      1. It’s such a shame that no one does Irene Adler justice. They take one of the more remarkable women in literature from that period, a woman who outsmarted Sherlock Freakin’ Holmes, and turn her into either a puppet for someone else’s use (usually Morarty, in both Moffat and the big screen versions) or a sexpot. Irene deserves better than that. Irene is smart on her own terms — having her work for someone else and be incapable of saving herself, as you said, defeats the entire point. As I implied in the article, this means Arthur Conan Doyle was more feminist than the modern authors who alter her so much.

  12. I am skeptical about this episode of “Sherlock” but will likely watch the other two. After months of not pre-ordering it, I finally did… so we shall see.

    1. You need to watch at least the first three minutes, otherwise you won’t know how Sherlock got out of the whole “Moriarty is going to blow them up” cliffhanger from last season.

      1. Yep, those minutes are kind of crucial. I just wish I didn’t like some of the other scenes in that episode, the funny bits with John and Sherlock. you have to wade through muck to get there.

          1. Perhaps you’ll like it better than I did. I never thought of myself as a purist but I guess I’m more of one then I realized. Except for Holmes I suppose that’s a good thing.

          2. Maybe all my screaming, ranting, sulking, pouting, shouts of character assassination and routine angst is rubbing off on you. 😉

            Note to Screenwriters/Novelists/Etc: KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY LITERARY MEN, WOMEN, AND CATS.

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