Emotional Women in the Victorian Era

            In the Victorian era, a woman was to be seen and not heard. They were emotional rather than logical, and weak. This presented the perfect victim for a Victorian gentleman to rescue. As "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and "The Hound of the Baskervilles” were written in this era, and were written to make money rather than a statement, it is not surprising that the female characters invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were generally victims.

             Mary Sutherland of "A Case of Identity” is a good example of a typical Victorian woman; she is weak and emotional. She also doesn't hide her emotions very well as Holmes points out that "Oscillation upon the pavement always means an affaire de cœur” (192) upon seeing Miss Sutherland across the street. In this case, she is represented as naive and innocent, she has been duped by her own mother and stepfather. She is also very loyal saying "I shall be true to Hosmer. He shall find me ready when he comes back”. (196).

             Holmes figures out that the true identity of Hosmer is that of her stepfather posing as a suitor, and leaving on the wedding day so as to keep Miss Sutherland in his house, and thereby controlling her inheritance. He chooses however not to tell his client what he has discovered saying "If I tell her she will not believe me. . . 'There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman'”(201). This reinforces the Victorian belief that women are emotional rather than logical. A logical person such as Watson or Holmes can see how Miss Sutherland has been taken advantage of, but with her being emotional, all she believes is that some tragic occurrence pulled her true love from her on their wedding day, and that he will return to claim her as promised.

             Hatty Doran of "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” is quite the opposite of Miss Sutherland. Though she is female, she does show some strength in controlling her emotions.

Related Essays: