Irene Alder In Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes is known as the World’s Greatest Detective; however, Irene Alder may just be the only person, male or female, that has ever defeated Holmes’ machine of a brain. The King of Bohemia holds the power over an entire country, yet he fears Irene Alder because she threatening to destroy his reputation. Irene Alder is a female antagonist in the short story, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which takes place in Britain during the 1890’s. Conan Doyle’s characterization of, Irene Alder, as a powerful female intellectual equal, challenges traditional social perceptions and gender assumptions toward Victorian women by creating social tension between Irene and the male characters Sherlock Holmes and the King of Bohemia.
Irene, or The Woman, as she is also known, is a surprisingly full character with a quick wit and amazingly sharp manipulation skills. According to Sherlock Holmes she is an
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Irene Alder, disregards traditional social perceptions and gender assumptions toward British women in the 1890’s. She is a powerful, intelligent Victorian woman, with a mind of her own, which is unusual for the times. Irene Alder torments Sherlock’s brilliant mind and he is shaken by being outwitted and manipulated by a woman with superior intellect like his own. He holds her in a place of reverence, as an intellectual equal. John Watson remarks regarding Sherlock’s admiration of Irene Alder’s intellect: “To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her [gender],” (p1). Sherlock Holmes has such respect for her abilities that he asks the King only for her photograph as payment for his services. She is a triple threat to the male gender, a rare combination of unforgettable beauty, undeniable grace and unsurpassed intellect far from the ordinary Victorian woman. Irene Alder is a contradiction for her time: strong, bright and capable of
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