In chapter two of A Scandal in Bohemia, we are fully introduced to Irene Adler. Doyle is clearly focusing on the character’s beauty. As a result, Adler’s beauty is to her advantage. Without doubt, she is well aware of her attraction and that men are turning their heads; even Sherlock Holmes and Watson are commenting on her beauty.
One main theme we can look at in this novel is feminism. We need to consider the fact that A Scandal in Bohemia was published in 1891. During that time, male dominance was still an issue. Don’t forget, the late 19th century was the beginning of women’s rights, the suffrage movement. When researching about this case, it was said that Doyle was against the movement and did not support the suffragettes, which made a lot of sense. As an anti-suffragist, his opinions are clearly shown in his novels. Sherlock’s observations suggest that women are ‘secretive’ and have their own specific traits. Beyond any doubt, this came from Doyle’s concepts about women.
However, there can be another side to this story. Even though Doyle depicted specific women traits, he has created a unique woman who was ahead of her time. Not only is Adler described as a beautiful woman, but it was also written that she had the ‘mind of the most resolute of men.’ Having a mind of a man during the 19th century was rare and unacceptable. This meant that Adler was a determined, clever and independent woman, which is definitely shown in this novel.
When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, he is obviously very good at his job. He cleverly disguises himself to meet and trick Irene Adler into thinking that he was hurt, in order to gain access into her house. Hence, Dr. Watson admires Sherlock for his clever disguises and plans to fool the enemy. It can be said that throughout Doyle’s novels, Sherlock Holmes was the master of disguise.