Themes in The Sign of Four Flashcards

What are the three main occurrences in The Sign of the Four?

The mysterious letters and pearls sent to Miss Morstan, the disappearance of her father a decade ago, and the quest for the lost Agra treasure.

How does The Sign of the Four reflect public trust in the police during the Victorian era?

The novel reflects low public trust in the police through the character of Detective Athelney Jones, who is confident but often ineffective, highlighting the difference between traditional police methods and Holmes’s innovative techniques.

How is colonialism portrayed in The Sign of the Four?

The novel critiques British colonialism through the Agra treasure, symbolising the wealth taken from colonised lands. It highlights the era’s greed and problematic views, particularly through characters like Jonathan Small and the depiction of Tonga.

How does The Sign of the Four capture the atmosphere of fear in the Victorian era?

The novel portrays fear through murder, theft, and darkness, using vivid expressions of terror and pathetic fallacy, such as the “dense drizzly fog” symbolising the murky nature of the case.

How is isolation depicted in The Sign of the Four?

Isolation is explored through characters like Miss Morstan, Jonathan Small, and Sherlock Holmes. Watson notes Holmes’s mood swings, highlighting his complex nature and need for solitude.

What role does love and friendship play in The Sign of the Four?

Watson and Mary Morstan’s romance is central to the plot, starting at first sight and growing throughout the story. Watson’s emotional contrast to Holmes makes the romance engaging and keeps Watson relatable to readers.

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