Analysis Pages

Facts in The Adventure of the Final Problem

Facts Examples in The Adventure of the Final Problem:

The Adventure of the Final Problem

🔒 5

"Again and again he recurred to the fact that if he could be assured that society was freed from Professor Moriarty he would cheerfully bring his own career to a conclusion..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Conan Doyle wants readers to feel assured that this story was indeed the end, and the fitting end, of the Sherlock Holmes tales. The detective is saying, in effect, that if he can get rid of Professor Moriarty he would be glad to retire. This is truly his last adventure—or at least that was what Conan Doyle believed as he was writing it.

"Your memoirs will draw to an end, Watson, upon the day that I crown my career by the capture or extinction of the most dangerous and capable criminal in Europe..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Doyle is assuring his contemporary readers that Holmes' career had been a great success and that he had contributed greatly to the public good. The author wanted to leave readers with the feeling that Holmes died at the peak of his career, already thinking of retirement, and that his apparent death with his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty was a fitting conclusion to the entire Sherlock Holmes saga. Doyle probably had no idea that his Sherlock Holmes stories and novels would still be enchanting readers well over a hundred years after publication of "The Adventure of the Final Problem."

"In the morning you will send for a hansom, desiring your man to take neither the first nor the second which may present itself..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Holmes knows that Moriarty will want to have Watson followed in the hope of tracing him to Holmes. Moriarty could be expected to have a hansom (a two-wheeled carriage) waiting to be hailed by Watson. But Holmes has too much respect for his opponent to trust him to have only one hansom waiting nearby. The clever thing to do would be to have two hansoms, anticipating that Watson would turn down the first one but would jump into the second one. As it turns out, however, Holmes has Watson reject two hansoms and jump into the third one that appears.

The story's title, "The Final Problem," refers to Holmes's problem of staying alive for a few days until the big criminal trial comes up on Monday. Conan Doyle may have considered the story his own final problem with his detective-hero, because he was the one who was actually planning to kill off the great Sherlock Holmes. He had to do it in a logical, believable, and acceptable manner. Sherlock Holmes fans of Doyle's day must have been shocked and horrified to learn that Holmes was dead; modern-day readers, however, can read this story with multidimensional appreciation of the author's feelings and problems as he created this dramatic conclusion.

"Then will come the greatest criminal trial of the century, the clearing up of over forty mysteries, and the rope for all of them..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Doyle did not want to finish off his hero while leaving many mysteries, which modern-day police call "cold cases," still unsolved. Over his career, Holmes will "clear up" over forty capital crimes in "the greatest criminal trial of the century." 

"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..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

This story was published in Strand Magazine in 1893. Arthur Conan Doyle considered killing off his most successful character because, as he said in a letter to his mother, "I must save my mind for better things, even if it means I must bury my pocketbook with him." It is well known to Sherlock Holmes fans worldwide that Doyle finally succumbed to popular demand and resurrected his great detective some years later.

Analysis Pages