In the final chapter we see the cunning Irene Adler finally having the chance to outsmart Sherlock Holmes. She reveals her deductions in a written letter addressed to Mr. Holmes. Adler clearly admires him for almost fooling her. In recent adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, there has always been a love relationship between the two, but not in the novels. In the novels Adler marries a lawyer named Godfrey Norton; thus there was never any love relationship with Holmes. However, there has always been admiration between them both.
Subsequently, one of the main themes for A Scandal in Bohemia is admiration. Without a doubt there is a lot of admiration in Doyle’s novels; not only from Watson and Sherlock, but also from the King of Bohemia. At the beginning of the novel the King disliked Adler for blackmailing her, and now he simply applauds her, stating that she would ‘have made an admirable queen’. It is interesting to see the change of circumstances, even when the King did not receive back the blackmailed photograph. Yet he is amazed by the cunningness of Irene Adler.
Furthermore, Sherlock seems to value Adler higher than the King of Bohemia by stating that Adler is ‘on a very different level’, even though it is clear that her social class is lower. Therefore, this strengthens the theory of admiration. Holmes is secretly praising Adler for outwitting him.
Moreover, It is good to mention the similarities between Adler and Holmes. They both like to disguise themselves. Adler’s plan to fool Holmes was to disguise herself as a man and to follow him home. She even wished Holmes ‘a good night‘, to which he never noticed it was Irene Adler. By disguising herself, it can be said that Adler is intellectually equal to Sherlock Holmes.
A Scandal in Bohemia not only has the best opening line, but also the best closing paragraph. It simply ends with Dr. Watson’s narrative. ‘Sherlock Holmes was beaten by a woman’s wit’. It’s not everyday you see that written in a Sherlock Holmes novel. It can only be said that Irene Adler has made an everlasting impression in Sherlock Holmes’s mind, he is human after all.
In conclusion, A Scandal in Bohemia is one of Doyle’s finest work. He is able to create a woman who can outwit Sherlock Holmes, which is rare for a man during the 19th century. The novel even shows a slight human side to Holmes. Yet, I was left wanting more. The story is just too short. Surely a significant woman like Irene Adler would’ve had the chance to develop with a longer storyline. It’s a shame she only appeared in one novel. Nevertheless, A Scandal in Bohemia was a great and entertaining read. If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I would definitely suggest you read this novel. It’s a very different perspective to what you might find from watching the television and movie adaptations.