Engl 385 midterm Study Guide

The purpose of this study guide is not to indicate exactly what will be on the exam. The ideas (which we have discussed in class) below are intended to help you think about the works we've read and studied so far this semester. Use these ideas with your notes and own ideas to think about the stories we have read. Don't forget your notes about the history of detective fiction, Conan Doyle, and the critical intro. to the Penguin ed. of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Also, the Course Notes have information to help you study.

Focus on your notes and the texts. Write out practice responses to previous quiz questions and questions you make up.  Remember the quiz examples we went over in class. The cards from in-class group work should be helpful.

Also, keeping the stories and adaptations straight in your mind will require you to know these works well. Go back through your notes and revise them as needed to clarify the stories.  Review your adaptation note sheets too.

The exam will cover all stories and adaptations through Oct. 21. Know the plots and know the main characters for each of the stories, aside from Holmes and Watson.

Question types:

  1. Multiple choice, matching, or fill in the blank**
  2. Short Answer**--you will have more time for more developed responses than you did on the quizzes

**Like quiz questions. You will have choices.

Time for midterm: 60-70 mins. (You will have the full class period--75mins--so don't rush.)

Major concepts/themes we've investigated--but not necessarily all of them.  Think about how these themes are related as well as other examples from stories that capture the ideas listed below, perhaps some stories more than others or in different ways.  Of course, stories will fit more than one theme.

1. Marriage:  We've discussed marriage in many of the stories we've read.  Key issues are the role of marriage in Victorian society and the relationship of men and women in marriage.  Based on our readings, how is marriage presented in the stories? A duty for men and women?  A means of affirming middle-class values of hearth, home (family), responsibility, earnestness, stability, happiness, love? What does marriage offer men? Women?  Particularly, consider single women who have an inheritance and are considering marriage.  What role does money play in impending marriages?  How might we understand marriage using the separate spheres doctrine?  Finally, why is preserving/helping some marriages important for Holmes and Watson?  (Watson's own marriage: "The Man  . . . Lip"/Domestic scenes with Holmes and Watson?)  Examples: "A Case of Identity" and "A Scandal in Bohemia." For some background, see this Norton Anthology online page http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/victorian/topic_2/welcome.htm

2. Holmes/Clients:  Consider the dynamic in this opposition.  Holmes, who practices his scientific method, represents lawfulness, order, compusure, reason.  He is an energetic, dedicated, hard-working professional middle-class man.  His clients usually present him (and society) with unlawfulness, disorder, violence, and emotion as well as a dissipated, corrupted, self-satisfied aristocracy/upper-middle or upper class.  How would you characterize the interactions Holmes has with his clients, and what are the results?  What about the endings of the stories? Holmes restores order by solving cases, but what about the Victorian society that exists in the background? Does solving crime cure social ills? (What is the nature of the crimes Holmes investigates?)  Examples:  "The Boscombe Valley Mystery," and "The Man . . . Lip."

3. Relationship between Holmes and Watson (Characterization):  This topic asks us to consider Holmes and Watson as colleagues, partners, and friends.  On the one hand, Holmes and Watson are opposites or foils (action & nonaction, master & student, detective & writer).  On the other hand, they seem to complement each other and offer support to each other, even in nondemonstrative ways.  Holmes is a mystery in many ways while Watson is familiar and accessible.  Also, consider the backgrounds/characteristics of each character.  Their arguments or disagreements.  Finally, there is Holmes's scientific methodology and deductive (and inductive) reasoning as well as his dual identity that Watson describes.  And there are Watson's reflections as a writer, soldier, husband, and as narrator of the tales.  Examples:  "A Scandal in Bohemia," "A Case of Identity," and "The Yellow Face."

4. Offical Law Enforcement (see #2):  Inspectors Lestrade, Barton, and Gregory represent different types of professional/official police officers (Metropolitan Police/English detective service--see in Penguin p. 523, #24).  They work to uphold the law and arrest those who break the law, working within and bounded by the official justice system.  Holmes is a consulting detective and is not bound by the official justice system.  One issue is the compentency of the police and Holmes's working relationship with them.  (The history of the development of policing in the 19th century is relevant here.) As a consulting detective, Holmes has freedom and flexibility, but it also raises questions about his sense of morality and justice.  For Holmes, there is the case itself, and then there is the aftermath--justice and punishment. Holmes is detached, yet he will sometimes extend his involvement.  Why?  What values does Holmes appear to uphold?  Examples: "Silver Blaze," "The Boscombe Valley Mystery," and "The Blue Carbuncle."

5.  Plotting/Deductive Reasoning/Scientific Methodology:  Think about how individual stories are plotted as well as their patterns throughout the Holmes stories.  Generally, a client is introduced who tells the facts of the case (case history).  Then Holmes investigates and solves the crime.  The denouement ties up loose ends.  Do some stories vary this general pattern?  What is the effect of plotting stories in this (these) way(s)?  Holmes's scientific method relies on deduction and induction.  Also, it highlights the relationship between 1.) reason, science, facts & imagination, intuition and 2.) cases and storytelling.  Examples: "Silver Blaze," "A Case of Identity," "and "The Blue Carbuncle."

6. Adaptation:  We have considered the fidelity theory and other theories--see handout.  Key questions we raised were 1.) What purpose does an adaptation serve for contemporary viewers who may or may not have read (or even be familiar with) the Holmes stories? and 2) and why does an adapation maintain some links with the precursor text and change or transform other characters, plot details, themes, etc.?  Is an adaptation an interpretation of an "original" work, or is it itself "original"?  Think of adaptations as biological mutations in a cultural context.  Consider the adaptations we have reviewed and our excellent class discussions.  Don't forget the Streaky Bacon website.

Some additional ideas we discussed were Holmes's use of disguises and his addiction--or cocaine use--his dual self.  You might develop these as themes or connect them to the themes above. The endings of the stories can also be included in #4 and #5 above.