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Is John's Friendship Making Sherlock a Better Man, Or...?

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I think we've discussed this in various ways, in different places, but maybe it deserves its own thread?

 

Below I've quoted/adapted some statements about Sherlock:
 
Premise #1. Sherlock is transforming into a better person throughout the series due to John's influence.

 

Premise #2. Sherlock is already a better person than anyone (including himself) thinks he is, but it is being revealed through his relationship with John.

 

Premise #3. Sherlock is not a good man and never will be, with or without John.

 

Premise #4. "Good and bad" are concepts that do not apply to Sherlock.

 

 

Take it in any direction you like, and discuss!

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I just figure, whatever works for them!

 

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Someone is missing the point, here ..... :p

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I believe John's friendship doesn't make him better or worse, but it makes him more aware of how he comes across to others.

 

He is a good man in nature, on the side of the angel.

He just doesn't care about other people's feeling because caring is not advantage and caring doesn't help saving victims.

Imho, he is not completely wrong, because the victims in this scenario are not people he know personally. In fact, by not getting involved emotionally actually make him much more effective in saving them (TGG).

 

John makes him looks like a better man, because he teaches him how to 'behave' (ex.he means Thank You in TRF and other No Good situation) but it's more on the outside. He already a good man inside, just not in traditional and 'normal' way.

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Soooo .... a lot of people think he's a different man in Season 3 than he was in Season 1 and 2. I've never been sure whether I do or not, but I do think he's growing as a person. But then I think they all are, except maybe Lestrade ... he's a pretty level bloke from the start.

 

I guess I think his intentions have always been on the side of the angels, but he's also become a less self-centered person over time. But I don't think that's the "change" people are talking about when they say he's different in S3.

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I put Sherlock as a combo of Premise 1 & Premise 2.  John is helping him to be better while also showing what good he already has.  It'll be interesting to see what happens to Sherlock's character in S4 because of the whole CAM thing and the potential of Moriarty.

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My impression always was that when we first meet Sherlock, he is not on any side, angels or otherwise. He's not evil in any way, but what matters to him is the work and only the work, and he doesn't do it out of any altruistic motivation, but merely because he finds it exciting and satisfying and it provides a better distraction from boredom than taking drugs. This is, for example, illustrated in A Study in Pink, where he gets into the cab with the murderer: Finding out how he "did it" is more important to Sherlock than putting a stop to his career then and there and sparing the lives of future victims.

 

I find Sherlock very fascinating during series 1. I think it's my favorite portrayal of him. The three episodes are about, if they are about anything, choosing a side, if you ask me, and I think both John and Moriarty are important there. Moriarty is what Sherlock would be if he was evil, and that doesn't seem a problem to Sherlock until he's confronted with the potential loss of an "actual human life" that matters to him. That last bit I think is more important than John's own "strong moral principles" - Sherlock noticed them from the start and while he sounded approving, he showed no intention of emulating John where ethics are concerned. But when Moriarty has John decked out in explosives and a sniper aiming at him into the bargain, Sherlock is forced to realize that he does have a heart, like it or no, and that makes him see what his brain alone didn't notice or care about: That Moriarty is a serious problem more than a fun danger-flirt and that he should be stopped. At all costs.

 

I'm not sure that the series shows Sherlock becoming a "better man". So far, all that has happened is he became more human and acknowledged his loves and his fears. He's learned to care for those close to him, and he's chosen to be "on the side of the angles" because everyone he loves is pretty much a good person, but he still doesn't seem much bothered with moral questions in general - see his actions in His Last Vow.

 

Gosh, I could go on and on about this, but I need to get to work. Catch you guys later...

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It's very interesting how this show make us think and see with different point of views and directions, isn't it?

So much so that I find myself contradicting what I already said sometimes.

 

It might drive us insane, but it's a much better alternative than dying of boredom or having a cheese-like wall.

 

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Premise #4. "Good and bad" are concepts that do not apply to Sherlock.

 

Well, technically speaking, "good and bad" does not exactly apply to anybody at all, as it's essentially a social contruct typically used to determine moral boundaries. But that's besides the point. My point is is that Sherlock, like everyone else, is very much a mixed bag. In different lights, different aspects of him are revealed. As Richard Siken oncce wrote: "In the wrong light anyone can look like a darkness."

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Oh, I think we should define the term "good man" first. :D

Go right ahead! :lol2:

 

So far I think I agree with everyone, even though, as Supernova points out, you're not necessarily saying the same thing! That's why the question was interesting to me: when I read premise 1, I thought, yeah, that's what I've thought the story was about all along; a great man who learns to be a good one. But then I read premise 2, and that makes equal sense to me: Sherlock was already where he needed to be, he was just so different no one could understand that until John was there to interpret him.

 

Premises 3 & 4 I reject, particularly 4 because it seems rather simplistic to me; just because good and bad are, as Bendy pointed out, relative terms, doesn't mean they don't still apply. It just means they're not cut and dried; which is why colleges offer philosophy degrees. :D (Oh, did I forget to mention I minored in philosophy and religion? Simply because it was the most interesting minor available to me ... :smile: )

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1 & 2.  Final answer.  ;)

 

Just thinking about this gives me a case of the feels, so much so that I'm not sure exactly to formulate a response to this because I'm having so many thoughts.

 

I guess on premise #1 - I think John, much like Molly, is really good at pointing out to Sherlock when he has run amok all over other people and their feelings (i.e. when he's being "a bit not good").  In that respect, I think John has made Sherlock a better person in that he's more aware of how others are impacted by his actions and words.  I think also John showed Sherlock that while yes, caring can be a disadvantage, it can also be an advantage and even when it's a disadvantage some things are still worth the sacrifice/pain.

 

Premise #2 - I think Sherlock has always been an inherently "good" person.  When Lestrade says that maybe one day he'll be a "great man," I think that ties back into premise #1 in that the one area Sherlock has always severly lacked in is that interpersonal communication/relationships area.  In that respect, I think that to some extent John is Sherlock's human credential.  I think John is a human credential even to Sherlock himself; I think the simple fact that the bravest, kindest, and wisest man Sherlock has ever known considers him his best friend tells Sherlock that he's someone worthwhile, someone worth being friends with, and not just an intellect.  When rewatching series 1 recently, what really struck me is how much Sherlock expects others to react negatively to him.  He makes jokes about it, but I think deep down it really does bother him because he's not Mycroft, as much as he's tried to model himself after Mycroft.  I will say, I disagree that Sherlock didn't care about victims pre-John.  I think he's always cared to some extent (I think he loves the idea of being the dragon slayer), but I think he's well-trained (thanks to Mycroft) in compartmentalizing and not acting based on his emotions.  But this, this is not the face of a man who doesn't care:

 

Sherlock_S01E03_The_Great_Game_720p_BluR

 

Now, I suppose you can make an argument that maybe John has had some influence over Sherlock by this point, but I dunno.  I like to think there is a reason besides just the game of it that Sherlock became a detective.

 

 

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I think John is more like a translator Sherlock-humans, humans-Sherlock. ;)

 

 

 When rewatching series 1 recently, what really struck me is how much Sherlock expects others to react negatively to him.  He makes jokes about it, but I think deep down it really does bother him because he's not Mycroft,

Oh, he was working really hard to ensure the negative reactions. I think he subconsciously provokes them, so he has a reason to avoid/despise people.

 

But don't forget that there are still people who seem to like Sherlock. Angelo. Mrs Hudson. Probably even Mike Stamford. The Fish and Chips owner who needed shelves put on the wall.

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Is Sherlock trying to emulate Mycroft? Or is he trying to break free of his shadow? After all, Sherlock's perfectly capable of behaving correctly in polite society when he wants to, as well remaining dispassionate, etc., just like Mycroft. He just chooses not to. Sometimes. (Confusing boy.)

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Is Sherlock trying to emulate Mycroft? Or is he trying to break free of his shadow? After all, Sherlock's perfectly capable of behaving correctly in polite society when he wants to, as well remaining dispassionate, etc., just like Mycroft. He just chooses not to. Sometimes. (Confusing boy.)

 

 

He probably doesn't know this himself.

 

 

Good question.  I don't have a clue as to the answer.  I think JP nailed it.

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Without having read anyone else's answers, my own thoughts are that Sherlock is - as he says - redeemed by the warmth and constancy of John's friendship. Not because John is a better person, but because he loves Sherlock despite his often inconsiderate behavior. I think Sherlock is capable of great compassion - look at the scene where he saves Henry Knight. I don't see that as John making Sherlock wanting to be a better man, though of course that is open to interpretation. However, it is my own experience that being loved despite one's flaws - and without expectation of change - makes loving others more easy. This is what I think John does for Sherlock.

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I think John is more like a translator Sherlock-humans, humans-Sherlock. ;)

 

Ha, I love that! And I think it's spot on :D

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I think John is more like a translator Sherlock-humans, humans-Sherlock. ;)

 

 

 When rewatching series 1 recently, what really struck me is how much Sherlock expects others to react negatively to him.  He makes jokes about it, but I think deep down it really does bother him because he's not Mycroft,

Oh, he was working really hard to ensure the negative reactions. I think he subconsciously provokes them, so he has a reason to avoid/despise people.

 

But don't forget that there are still people who seem to like Sherlock. Angelo. Mrs Hudson. Probably even Mike Stamford. The Fish and Chips owner who needed shelves put on the wall.

 

Does anyone else think/feel that part of Sherlock's goading people is a defense mechanism?   In my self-created head canon Sherlock was mercilessly teased as a kid (by other kids, by Mycroft for different reasons than the other kids), and he's so used to people reacting poorly to him that he sorta feeds into it now.    Or maybe I'm giving him too much credit for being this poor, emotionally injured Sherlock.   :)

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I can totally see Sherlock doing that as a subconscious defense mechanism.

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There is not even a need to be teased. It's enough to feel different - the way to make it more bearable is to imagine others are idiots. For a Sherlock it was not hard to do.

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I think we've discussed this in various ways, in different places, but maybe it deserves it's own thread?

 

Below I've quoted/adapted some statements about Sherlock:

 

...

 

Premise #2. Sherlock is already a better person than anyone (including himself) thinks he is, but it is being revealed through his relationship with John.

 

 

 

I find Premise #2 the most intriguing, and I think that's because we just all rewatched the Unaired Pilot (and then hubby and I rewatched SiP right after).  I think we can't discount John's role as Sherlock's blogger (his "Boswell") that is so apparent to me in S1 but that diminishes as he and we get to know Sherlock.

 

Think about the drugs bust in SiP.  Even knowing the ACD canon about Holmes's drug use, I still found myself looking at this alien-looking man in the bespoke suit and agreeing with John that there could not possibly be anything in that flat that Sherlock owned that could be called "recreational."  But, as John gets to know Sherlock, we get layers of the Sherlockian character peeled back until you see what he is really like underneath.

 

I think seeing Sherlock through John's eyes allows for an evolving view of the character over time.  Sherlock was probably always a "good" person, depending on your definition of "good."  As long as "good" encompasses someone who is willing to operate outside normal legalities to achieve the desired result.  In many cases, I think Sherlock is simply "right," and that translates to being "good" when it's applied to issues that affect people as a whole.

 

As to whether Sherlock thinks he's a good person, it's really hard for me to separate Sherlock from the aggregate body of Holmes characters.  It seems that every Holmes that I have experienced (ACD, BBC, House, Elementary, Downey, Brett) has an inherent vulnerability to him that tempers the egotism.  I find that pretty genuine to the genius-level intelligence, where most people on that right hand side of the IQ bell curve that I know tend to be fairly certain of their conclusions but fairly vulnerable when it comes to their reaction to how other people treat their intelligence, if that makes sense.  It's always the struggle between whether to hide your intelligence or to go ahead and "show off" and get told to "piss off."  The Johns of the world are rare.

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Interesting.  As I am decidedly NOT a genius, I would have never imagined that geniuses as a whole receive such a response from others.   :blink:  What about Mycroft then?   He seems less... bothered by being told to piss off?  Less reactionary?  I'm not sure what the word is I'm looking for....   Anyhow, I have a few friends that I would speculate are of genius-level intelligence.  Now I want to ask them if they've ever felt that others respond to them in such a way that they feel they have to hide their intelligence.  If they've ever felt that way, they've never intimated it to me.  But maybe that is because I'm just a goldfish.   :P    

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Geniuses... what's it like inside your funny 'ole heads?    ;)

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Interesting. As I am decidedly NOT a genius, I would have never imagined that geniuses as a whole receive such a response from others. :blink: What about Mycroft then? He seems less... bothered by being told to piss off? Less reactionary? I'm not sure what the word is I'm looking for.... Anyhow, I have a few friends that I would speculate are of genius-level intelligence. Now I want to ask them if they've ever felt that others respond to them in such a way that they feel they have to hide their intelligence. If they've ever felt that way, they've never intimated it to me. But maybe that is because I'm just a goldfish. :P

Mycroft: tougher hide and or simply learnt to mask his reactions better than Sherlock. Not surprising considering what he do for living.

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