Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Weather Outside is Frightful

I finished Mr. Hardwick's book and it was very, very interesting. I noted several obvious things to mention in a House/Holmes Comparison blog but most of them were the obvious and the owner of this blog has nicely laid them out on the homepage.

Drug use: House is addicted to Vicodin. Holmes was a user of a 7% solution of cocaine to combat boredom in times of no current case at hand.

Best Friend: House's best (and possibly only) friend is Dr. James Wilson. Holmes' best (and possibly only) friend is Dr. James H. Watson. "My name is Sherlock Holmes. This is my intimate friend and associate, Dr. Watson, before whom you can speak as freely as before myself." (The Speckled Band)

I've always thought it would be interesting if somewhere down the road....late in the game....we find that all of this series has been seen through Wilson's eyes. In the Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes was far too private a man to ever laud his own abilities to the public. It was the inimitable Watson who was our guide and narrator. "Oh, a trusty comrade is always of use, and chronicler still more so." (The Man with the Twisted Lip)

Personality: This could be a blog in and of itself but suffice to say both House and Holmes are mysanthropes who revel in their genius and enjoy showing off but only on their own terms. "He is not a man that it is easy to draw out, though he can be communicative enough when the fancy seizes him....It's is not easy to express the inexpressible," [Stamford] answered with a laugh. "Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes -- it approaches to coldbloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same readiness. He appears to have a passion for definite and exact knowledge." (Study in Scarlet)

And yet, our characters are both capable of emotion and gentleness. Picture House's gentle hands as he replaces Senator Wright's O2 mask in "Role Model" as you read what Watson says of Holmes', "In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing....His hands were invariably blotted with ink and stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of extraordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had occasion to observe when I watched him mainipulating his fragile philosophical instruments." (Study in Scarlet)

Irregulars: Both House (The Ducklings: Cameron, Foreman and Chase) and Holmes (The Baker Street Irregulars) have an entourage to do most of the dirty work.

Authority: Both House and Holmes eventually have to answer to authority. For House it's Cuddy (and, more problematically Vogler and a later Peer Review Board) and for Holmes it's a string of Scotland Yarders, the most famous of who was Inspector Lestrade.

Serial Marriage: Although treated a bit differently to update the scenario to our modern, cynical world, both Watson and Wilson had three marriages. While we are led to believe that Wilson's marriages have ended in divorce due to Wilson's chronic infidelity ("Double entry book-keeping?!"), Watson's marriages were loving ones and one ended in his widowerhood. The first Waston marriage mentioned in the canon was to a Miss Mary Morstan in The Sign of the Four. After Holmes' return from Reichenbach Falls, Watson remarks that Holmes' must've heard of his bereavement. (The Empty House) In a later story, "The Blanched Soldier", Holmes moans that Watson had left him for a wife. There is a bit of a mystery about the third one but most Sherlockians hold that it was a marriage prior to Miss Marston.

Music: House plays the piano and is an avid fan of music. If his office is any indication -- note the jazz poster, the state of the art stereo and his frequent forays to the floor with his iPod.

Holmes loved to go to the symphony and played an exquisite violin. (Although he preferred to ramble on it, he would reward Watson's patience with more classical, mainstream performances.) "Leaning back in his arm-chair of an evening, he would close his eyes and scrape carelessly at the fiddle which was thrown across his knee. Sometimes the chords were sonorous and melancholy. Occasionally they were fantastic and cheerful. Clearly they relfected the thoughts which possessed him, but whether the music aided those thoughts, or whether the playing was simply the result of a whim or fancy, was more than I could determine. I might have rebelled against these exasperating solos had it not been that he usually terminated them by playing in quick succession a whole series of my favourite airs as a slight compensation for the trial upon my patience." (Study in Scarlet)

Youth: Interestingly enough, there are several points where Holmes refers to Watson as a "boy". "But you, Watson -- I've hardly seen you in the light yet. How have the years used you? You look the same blithe boy as ever." (His Last Bow) Note that House refers to Wilson (a bit his junior) as "The Oncologist Boy-Wonder".

I realize that this blog today has pretty much focussed on Holmes and Watson/House and Wilson but as I go through the Hardwick book, I find that most of Hardwick's quotes come, by necessity, from Watson's observations.

Lastly, I noticed one bit of trivia, though, that will make me a hit at cocktail parties.

Have you noticed how we almost always get a weather reference when House and Wilson are together? Usually through House's office window. Snow, rain (specifically in "Humpty Dumpty"), clear (on the balcony.)

In Doyle's Holmes stories, it's Watson who is constantly noting the weather. Usually through the windows on Baker Street. "It was a wild, tempestuous night, towards the close of November. Holmes and I sat together in silence all the evening, he engaged with a powerful lens deciphering the remains of the original inscriptoin upon a palimpsest, I deep in a recent treatise upon surgery. Outisde the wind howled down Baker Street, while the rain beat fiercely against the windows. It was strange there, in the very depths of the town, with ten miles of man's handiwork on every side of us, to feel the iron grip of Nature, and to be conscious that to the huge elemental forces all London was no more than the molehills that dot the fields. I walked to the window, and looked out on the deserted street. The occasional lamps gleamed on the expanse of muddy road and shining pavement." (The Golden Pince-Nez)


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