From Zero to Hero


Towards the end of “A Study of Scarlet”, Doyle challenges the reader’s perception of Jefferson Hope by developing him into a suffering protagonist who’s acts are more crimes of passion than villainous acts. Hope explains his reasoning for taking matters into his own hands by sharing his past experiences and showing that he was left with no other options but murder to serve justice. His past is filled with tragedy because of the persecution, kidnapping and ultimate death of Lucy by the hands of the Mormons.  This establishes that the “victims” of part one should not necessarily be pitied by the reader. It is shown through Hope’s statement “it’s enough that they were guilty of the death of two human beings…after the lapse of time that has passed since their crime, it was impossible for me to secure a conviction against them in any court” (Doyle 113). This shows that Hope would have sought legal justice if it was possible, but the circumstances didn’t permit him. Also, the deaths of Lucy and her father are evenly avenged by the deaths of the two Mormons, a tit for tat scenario. Hope’s past creates a new view for the reader, where Hope is a victim first and a murderer second. This all important difference between the Mormon’s murder for greed and Hope’s murder for vengeance are the main twist for character development in “A Study in Scarlet.”

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3 comments

  1. “…Hope is a victim first and a murderer second” This phrase you used perfectly summarizes the purpose of part two of “A Study in Scarlet.” In the beginning, I found myself rooting for Holmes to solve this mystery, to bring justice to this horrible crime. I felt like I would only be satisfied with Holmes’ success in the case and him “showing up” his rivals, Lestrade and Gregson. At the end of part one, I was convinced that I would soon be given that satisfaction, but it never came. Instead, I became conflicted. Hope’s story gave me a reason to feel sympathetic for a murderer. By intentionally including Hope’s story, Doyle’s lesson is to refrain from being so quick to make judgements on a person’s character. Furthermore, the two parts of the story come together to produce a specific theme: the exciting but very different appeals of logic vs emotion. There is something so satisfying about the processes of logic (as with Holmes’ deductive abilities), but something so thrilling about the emotions that come with the unpredictability of life (as with Hope’s unfortunate tale).

    1. I definitely agree with your argument. I like how this really foreshadowed our discussion in class, the one more specifically where we talked about how it is easier to see a criminal as innocent when we understand their backgrounds and thus their motives. I think we can all relate to his motives, everyone who has a loved one taken away is very fragile. I think that on a daily basis most people face the struggle between logic and emotion. A person’s personality is shaped a lot by those decisions. I personally think that he acted on emotion. Too often I think people are able to disguise their emotions in “their own logic” it made sense to them at the time for example “an eye for an eye”. The lesson that you got out of it is very important and well selected, and stated so eloquently. There IS something so satisfying about the process of logic and how it forms but something thrilling about the emotions that for throughout the unpredictability of life. You said it excellently.

  2. I also agree with your argument but I want to highlight a connection that your writing has shown me. Your title made me think of the song “Zero to Hero” from the Disney movie Hercules. This made me think of the Hercules from Greek mythology.

    The Hercules from Greek mythology may differ from Jefferson Hope in some ways but there is a strong connection between them. The main connection that can be made between Jefferson Hope and the Greek Hercules is that both of them suffered greatly and had very miserable lives after two of their loved ones were murdered (or caused to die). Both men also had many obstacles that they had to suffer through while trying to right the unjust deaths of their loved ones. I am trying to avoid spoiling too much about the Greek mythology of Hercules because I think that the myth is something everyone should read. More great parallels between this “A Study in Scarlet” and “Hercules” can be discovered through more background information from “Hercules” but I will not distract the reader from the great piece above by going into that story.

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