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Kat

Transporting Conan Doyle's characters and themes into BBC Sherlock

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In A Sign of Four Watson says that he has had various experiences with many women. Holmes says that this is his 'department'. In BBC Sherlock John has many girlfriends in seasons 1 and 2. Moreover in season 4 Sherlock actually tells John that he's an expert in women. Do you think that Watson was a Casanova and that's why John is shown as a bit of a womaniser? I find it hard to believe that dr. Watson could have mistresses or visit houses of ill repute that catered to the middle class as he wouldn't be able to afford the luxurious ones. Moreover, as a doctor I think he'd have some knowledge of diseases.  The modern John would certainly be aware of the danger. I'm not insisting he's a womaniser and am open to various ideas. Thank you for your help.

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Hi Kat! Welcome to the forum, and what a great question to start off with!

I'm with you ... I find it a bit hard to believe Dr. Watson (any version) was a Casanova.

I'm a bit skeptical of any of Holmes' remarks on the subject; I think it's a very good chance he was being sarcastic when he made either of the remarks you cited. And I think he was also acknowledging that his pal was far more interested in women than Holmes himself was. But neither of those things makes John a womanizer; just a regular guy with an eye for the ladies. I never had the impression that it was more than that.

That's my take on it, anyway. I have no doubt the Sherlock writers enjoyed keeping it all a bit mysterious, though, as to what was "really" going on. :smile: 

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I like your answer. Thanks for not saying it's vulgar, though it deals with erotic stuff. At first I thought I'd put it in the general section and see what the moderators think. Having said that it could be split into two and posted in either the BBC Sherlock section or the original stories section. Glad to be welcomed. I saw season 4 in 2017 like most people and joined the forum now as probably I don't need to write spolier alert before my comments.

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Well, I'm a moderator, and I think you phrased it well so that it's not at all vulgar. And no, I don't think you need to worry about spoiler alerts. I'm looking forward to more of your posts, we haven't had much new to talk about lately (at least, not Sherlock related! :smile: ) Also, don't feel shy about resurrecting old threads, if you find some that interest you. Someone's always ready to share more ideas on the subject!

 

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Welcome to the forum, Kat!   :welcome:

I know that a lot of people think otherwise, but I agree with you and Arcadia.  Here's my somewhat long-winded take on it from a few years back:

On 12/18/2014 at 11:28 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

After describing "the plainness and simplicity" of [Mary Morstan's] clothing in some detail, he continues, "Her face had neither regularity of feature nor beauty of complexion, but her expression was sweet and amiable, and her large blue eyes were singularly spiritual and sympathetic.  In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature."  As this is a long story, there's more description of her here and there, but I believe that's typical of it.

Watson's "three continents" comment from Sign is what many people (including Moffat and Gatiss) love to interpret as meaning that the doctor is a womanizer, but either it's an exquisite example of Victorian circumlocution, or the poor man (although clearly not blind) has been sadly maligned.  Judging by the samples above, he seems to pay more attention to a woman's character and manner than her appearance, and the woman he falls in love with is no classic beauty.

That "three continents" thing is what's generally offered as proof that Dr. Watson is a womanizer.  But the above was my take on it then, and I've seen no reason to change my mind in the interim.

As for "our" John, he clearly appreciates women as well, but tends to be awkward around them.  No womanizer there either, in my opinion.

 

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One continent is Asia, the other is Europe. The third could be Africa. As a soldier he'd have to pass through the Suez Canal, opened in 1869 to get to Britian. That was quite a thing! Crossing South Africa took a lot of time. He doesn't seem a Don Juan to me. Oh, I'm Polish and my name is Katarzyna, Catherine in English, so I made it into Kat, although such an abbreviation doesn't exist in Polish. It's my idea.

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I think you're right about which three continents Watson was referring to in Study in Scarlet.  As you say, clearly Asia (India plus Afghanistan), and of course Europe.  Good point about him returning via the Suez Canal, which was fairly new then!  According to Wikipedia, it's considered the boundary between Africa and Asia, so there's Africa.

Pleased to meet you, Katarzyna!  I believe we have at least one other Polish member here, though she now lives in Germany.

 

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It doesn't surprise me that a Polish member lives in Germany. I like all sorts of crime stories. Poirot, Maigret, etc.

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