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Plot in The Adventure of the Final Problem

Plot Examples in The Adventure of the Final Problem:

The Adventure of the Final Problem

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"As to the gang, it will be within the memory of the public how completely the evidence which Holmes had accumulated exposed their organization, and how heavily the hand of the dead man weighed upon them..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Here again, Conan Doyle assures readers that the Sherlock Holmes stories would have ended regardless of whether Holmes had lived or died. Holmes is obviously planning to retire. He has plenty of money and he has many other interests to pursue in his retirement.

"As to the gang, it will be within the memory of the public how completely the evidence which Holmes had accumulated exposed their organization, and how heavily the hand of the dead man weighed upon them...."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Holmes was planning on returning to England to testify as a star witness in all the upcoming trials. Conan Doyle writes these words to assure readers that all the criminals were convicted and hanged in spite of the fact that Holmes died and was unavailable to testify. Professor Moriarty died with Holmes, and so Holmes was successful in accomplishing his plans even after his apparent death at Reichenbach Falls. It was "the evidence which Holmes had accumulated" that convicted all of criminals. Conan Doyle takes care to give his hero full credit for solving the crimes and convicting the criminals.

"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.

"the one, but not the other..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Moriarty promises Holmes the one, that is Holmes' destruction, but not the other, which is his own destruction.

"if I were assured of the former eventuality I would, in the interests of the public, cheerfully accept the latter..."   (The Adventure of the Final Problem)

Both Holmes and Moriarty speak impeccable English, but their exchange here is a little hard to follow. Holmes is saying that if he were sure he could "bring destruction" on Moriarty he would "cheerfully accept" the "destruction" Moriarty promises as revenge.

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