Sherlock Holmes - The Final Problem Characters

Instructor: Joe Ricker
The characters in this lesson are few, but the antagonist proves to be an equal match for the hero, Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading to learn the fate of Sherlock Holmes and his 'final' problem.

The Cast

This 'final' tale of Sherlock Holmes keeps the characters to the minimum required for a Sherlock Holmes adventure. Holmes, the typical hero, is at the peak of his career and has met his most challenging adversary, Professor Moriarty. Moriarty's intelligence and cunning make him an equal for Sherlock Holmes, which inadvertently proves to be the end for Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. Dr. Watson, saddened by the death of his closest friend, shares his 'last' memoir of Holmes and the enemy who brought the great detective's demise.

Dr. Watson

Dr. Watson offers what he believes to be his last memoir of Sherlock Holmes in 'The Adventure of the Final Problem,' taking his usual role as narrator. The opening line of the story offers the level of grief that Watson is suffering, and the awful news that the hero of the story meets his demise in the end.

'It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes was distinguished.'

Watson's marriage and commitment to his private medical practice limited the amount of time he had to offer his assistance to Holmes, so Holmes has been busy on his own adventures. It's by chance that he is able to accompany Holmes during this adventure. Things are slow with his medical practice and his wife is out of town.

A significant factor in this tale is that Watson has never heard of Professor Moriarty, a detail that Holmes notes makes Moriarty such a clever mastermind, but also indicates that Watson has been focused more on his personal life than what's going on with Holmes.

Because of the dangerous nature of Holmes's nemesis, Professor Moriarty, Watson takes several precautions in his travels to meet up with Holmes on a train, as Holmes travels to Switzerland. His movements resemble those of a spy in a modern-day espionage film. When Watson finally does meet up with Holmes, the infamous detective is in disguise.

At the end of the tale, Watson is tricked by Moriarty and one of his underlings. Watson is drawn away from Holmes for a short time to respond to a medical situation. When Watson arrives back at the inn, he discovers that the medical situation he was summoned for was fabricated, and that he had to have been duped by Moriarty. Watson is an hour away from Sherlock Holmes, and it's too late for him to do anything about it.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, the typical hero of the tales recorded by Dr. Watson, has met his ultimate match in 'The Final Problem.' Holmes, as Watson describes him, is 'paler and thinner than usual,' which indicates that Holmes is clearly rapt with the details of his most current case, tracking Professor Moriarty, a criminal mastermind who has remained unknown to everyone, except Holmes.

When Holmes first tells Watson of his current work, he states about Moriarty:

'Never have I risen to such a height, and never have I been so hard pressed by an opponent.'

Unfortunately, Moriarty is so equal an adversary to Holmes, that the two of them perish by the end of the story, disappearing over the edge of Reichenbach Falls.

From the moment Watson begins to tell this final tale of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes is at his highest level of caution, which can be seen as he uses a disguise to travel with Watson. His demeanor throughout the story is of the utmost caution. For example, Holmes closes shutters and leaves on different routes than he'd arrived. His dedication to capturing Professor Moriarty and other members of his gang have taken a mental and physical toll on Holmes.

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