Women in the sign of four

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  • Women
    • are unimportant
      • play small bit parts in a sign of four
        • for example Mrs smith is seen only once, Mrs forrester is only in small parts, and mary, despite being part of the mystery is often left behind
        • they're function is too move the plot on- Mary brings the mystery, Mrs smith gives Holmes the information he needs for the novel to continue
      • 'a mere unit, a factor in an investigation'
    • provide relief to the reader- comic, romantic
      • Mrs smith is an almost comical character, in the way that she can't control her son (come back, you young imp) and her cluelessness about where her husband is- he's been away since yesterday mornin
        • could also show how women are disinterested in real issues- doesn't try to find her husband.
      • Miss Morstan and Watson's romance provides an entertaining subplot
    • are often left behind
      • this could be because they are seen as untrustworthy-"women are never to be entirely trusted, not the best of them"
        • seen as gossips
          • romanticise the mystery- refer to it as a fairy tale- "it is a romance!""An injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black cannibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian"
            • doesn't realise the seriousness of the situation- instead sees it as something interesting to gossip about
            • Untitled
      • could also be because they are seen as in need of protection
        • in chapter 5, Mrs Bernstone (the housekeeper)reacts to Bartholemew's deathj by becoming 'hysterical', 'scared and 'restless'. when are also told that she is crying- 'a hysterical sob'
          • Watson and Holmes however, appear t remain very calm, and start investigating, providing a juxtaposition which shows how women were viewed as being much less emotionally strong.
        • Watson does not tell Miss Morstan and Mrs Forrester the full story-'supressing, however, the more dreadful parts of the tragedy'
      • Mary remains with the housekeeper at Pondicherry lodge
    • context: Men in the Victorian times were seen to be intellectually superior- a women with intellectual pursuits was seen as undesirable. A women's role was purely domestic. for these reasons, their education focused on music, needlework and domestic tasks.


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