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Dr. Watson by Arthur Conan Doyle and CBS’ Elementary (Essay Sample)


this was a comparison of the different portrayals of sherlock holmes in popular media and literature


Contrast and Comparison: Dr. Watson by Arthur Conan Doyle and CBS’ Elementary
While the narratives of the exploits of Sherlock Holmes have persisted over the decades since the original crafting by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there have been numerous variations to the accounts in time. The accounts have especially varied in the depiction of the characters in these narratives in popular media. Particularly in the age of contemporary film, specific liberties taken by producers and directors have exhibited an extensive range of character depictions that, in some instances, has drawn criticism. In an Americanized version of Sherlock Holmes, CBS’s film series, Elementary, makes especially significant transformations to the characters of Dr. Watson and that of Moriarty. The current analysis focuses on Dr. Watson, noting the similarities that have persisted in the narrative and those where the film has made both subtle and drastic changes. In changing the nature of one of the prolific characters in fiction, Elementary not only challenges gender dynamics but also invites the reader to contemplate the changing nature of the eternal disciple in contemporary society.
While it would often be prudent to explore the similarities that Elementary preserves in the depiction of Dr. Watson relative to the choices by Doyle, proceeding in the analysis seems futile without accentuation of the primary difference in character portrayal. Elementary makes a daring choice and instead of the traditional John Watson, Sherlock Holmes has Joan Watson as his sidekick. Zimmerly (19) has argued that the presence of Dr. Watson is intended to be that of the gateway to the protagonist, fulfilling the seeker-disciple dynamic that the protagonist may often fail to accomplish. John Watson elaborates that Sherlock, “stimulated my curiosity…often I endeavoured to break through the reticence which he showed on all that concerned himself” (A Study in Scarlet ). Nothing in this form of interest limits it to a man, and only social perceptions in the audience could pose the limitationCITATION Zim19 \p 20 \l 1033 (Zimmerly 20). The possibility of this role being occupied by a woman has, therefore, been conceivable but not quite explored. The introduction of Dr. Joan Watson in the role and the ease with which she fits in challenges the rigid stance of its being filled by a man.

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