The Sign of Four Characters and quotes


Sherlock Holmes- Character

  • •Sherlock Holmes is one of the protagonist’s the story. He is a private detective that people can hire to help solve mysteries.
  • •He is hired by Mary Morstan to investigate her missing father and why she is receiving some mysterious pearls.
  • •He is unemotional, but is extremely confident in his skills and has a very analytical mind.
  • •He likes problems and gets bored easily if he does not have work or problems to solve. When he is bored, he is inclined to take drugs to “stimulate” his mind.
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Sherlock Holmes Quotes

  • “I abhor the dull routine of existence”
  • “I am the last and highest court of appeal”
  • “Holmes rubbed his hands, his eyes glistened […] concentration on his clear-cut, hawk-like features”
  • “Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram”
  • “Beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird
  • “Rochester row”, said he, “Now Vincent Square. Now we come out on the Vauxhall Bridge Road.”
  • “You are an Automaton- a calculating machine” - Watson to Holmes
  • “Women are never to be entirely trusted”
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Dr John Watson - Character

  • •Sherlock’s housemate and best friend. He is also Sherlock’s assistance.
  • •He is a medical doctor and at one point served with the army in India and Afghanistan, where he was injured.
  • •He has some finances but not enough, in his opinion, to be worthy of Mary Morstan’s affections.
  • •The novel is told from his point of view and is the character that allows the reader to connect with the adventure.
  • •He is the character who is most similar to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- the author.
  • •Unlike Sherlock, Watson thinks about situations emotionally, and is often impressed by Sherlock’s skills.
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Dr John Watson - Quotes

  • “Honestly, I cannot congratulate you enough”
  • “Her large blue eyes were singularly spiritual”
  • “What an attractive woman!”
  • “You have done all of the work, I get a wife out if this business, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?”
  • “Worse still, she was rich.”
  • “She was weak and helpless, shaken in mind and nerve”
  • “My conscience swelled nightly within me”
  • “I sprang from my chair and limped impatiently about the room”
  • “I could have struck the man about the face, so hot was I”
  • “I lost my bearings, and knew nothing save that we seemed to be going a very long way”
  • “What was I, an army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker banking account”
  • “I did not know how this Agra treasure had weighed me down”
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Mary Morstan Character

  • •A young governess, who requests the help of Sherlock Holmes, as suggested by her employer.
  • •She seeks his help to uncover the mystery of what happened to her father 6 years before and why every year since she has received a pearl of high quality to her door.
  • •She is considered a “wronged woman” by her mysterious pearl-sender.
  • •She eventually agrees to marry Dr Watson when they discover the treasure has been lost.
  • •She was set to be a wealthy woman with the discovery of the treasure- and would have been socially, well beyond Watson’s reach.
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Mary Morstan Quotes

  • “Miss Morstan and I stood together, and her hand was in mine”
  • “One of the most charming young ladies I ever met, and might be most useful in such work as we have been doing”
  • “Is that the treasure, then?” she asked, coolly enough”
  • “The treasure is lost” said Miss Morstan, calmly”
  • “It is for Mr Thaddeus Sholto that I am anxious”
  • “You are certainly a model client”
  • “her lip trembled, her hand quivered, she showed every sign of intense agitation”
  • “she put her hand to her throat, and a choking sob cut short the sentence”
  • “In the cab however, she first turned faint, and then burst into a passion of weeping”
  • “After the angelic fashion of women, she had borne trouble with a calm face as long as there was some one weaker than herself to support”
  • “I have them here” she answered producing half a dozen pieces of paper”
  • “And two knight-errants to the rescue” added Miss Morstan, with a bright glace at me.”
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Thaddeus Sholto -Character

  • •Twin Brother of Batholomew Sholto and son of Major Sholto.
  • •He is seen as skittish and nervous, and as a man who worries too much.
  • •He is not greedy, unlike his brother and father who wished to keep the treasure for themselves.
  • •He tried to share the wealth with Mary Morstan and sent her pearls , 1 a year for 6 years in order to see the wealth shared.
  • •He discovers his brother’s body and is stunned by it before being wrongly arrested by Athelney Jones. He is later released.
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Thaddeus Sholto Quotes

  • “A small man with a very high head”
  • “a bristle of red hair all-round the fringe of it, and a bald, shining scalp which shot out from it like a mountain- peak from fir-trees”
  • “visible line of yellow and irregular teeth, which he strove to conceal by constantly passing his hand over the lower part of his face ”
  • “An oasis in the howling desert of London”
  • “He writhed his hands together as he stood”
  • “I seldom come in contact with the rough crowd”
  • “My health is somewhat fragile,” he remarked, as he led the way down the passage”
  • “I am a great sufferer”
  • “We were your trustees”
  • “You will excuse my anxiety, Miss Morstan.” he remarked, airily. “I am a great sufferer, and I have long had suspicions as to that valve.”
  • “Had the helpless appealing expression of a terrified child”
  • “Half blubbering with fear, and his twitching feeble face peeping out from the great Astrakhan collar”
  • “I may call myself a patron of the arts”
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Athelney Jones- Character

  • •Athelney Jones is the police inspector attached to Scotland Yard who is asked to attend the death of Bartholomew Sholto.
  • •He is shown as being Sherlock's counterpart, but he is seen as incompetent and foolish, as the reader is meant to support Sherlock on his quest.
  • •Athelney Jones also refers to Sherlock Holmes as the Theorist, as he does not believe is Sherlock’s “modern” forensic techniques.
  • •Remember the techniques that Sherlock uses in 1888 were not used by the police until at least 1901 (e.g Fingerprinting.)
  • •Jones, likes to tack the credit for the work that Holmes does. Holmes does not mind, as he knows the truth, but it allows the police to present a better image to the public, which they did not have at the time, mostly due to the lack of conviction associated with the Ripper Murders in 1888.
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Athelney Jones Quotes

  • “Heavy steps and the clamour of loud voices”
  • “A very stout, portly man in a grey suit strode heavily into the room”
  • “Remember you! I’ll never forget how you lecture us all on the causes and inferences and effects in the Bishopgate jewel case”
  • “You see that I am weaving my web around Thaddeus”
  • “It’s Mr Sherlock, the theorist”
  • “He was red-faced, burly and plethoric with a pair of vey small twinkling eyes which looked keenly out from between swollen and puffy pouches”
  • “But you’ll own by now that it was more by good luck than good guidance”
  • “If we are pretty quick in catching our men, we are not so quick in condemning them”
  • “His expression was downcast, and his bearing meek and even apologetic”“It was amusing to notice how consequential Jones was already beginning to give himself airs on the strength of the capture
  • “Thaddeus is evidently in a most disturbed state of mind. His appearance is – well, not attractive”
  • “Your friend, Mr. Sherlock is a wonderful man, sir”
  • "I never saw a case he could not throw a light upon ”
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Jonathan Small Character

  • •Jonathan was once a prisoner, he then became a solider who was wounded by a crocodile whilst swimming in the Ganges.
  • •He was invalided out of the army and later became an overseer on an indigo plantation, but then the Indian Uprising of 1857 occurred and he was forced to flea to Agra.
  • •There he met the three other members of the Sign of Four and the pact was made concerning the treasure.
  • •After agreeing to share the treasure with the other three members Jonathan was later arrested again and sent to the penal (prison) colony of the Andaman Islands.
  • •There he met Major Sholto and Captain Morstan, with whom he had a respectful relationship as the only white prisoner. He became assistant to an Army doctor.
  • •Captain Morstan and Major Sholto agreed to help get the treasure of Agra back to England, in safe keeping for Jonathan in exchange for a share each. Major Sholto then took it for himself leading Jonathan to be extremely angry with him!
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Jonathan Small Character 2

  • Jonathan Small vowed vengeance on the Old Major – which he succeeded with, as the old Major died of fright having seen his face at the window to his rooms.
  • Whilst on the Andaman Islands Jonathan Small helped save the life of an Andaman Islander, called Tonga. Who became a loyal companion to him and a great help – as well as a hindrance at times.
  • Jonathan Small, eventually retrieves the treasure and then throws it into the Thames so that no one will ever have it – especially if he cannot share in it, as had been the original arrangement.
  • Without realising it, this is a good thing for Mary and Watson – as it leaves them still with an equal social standing and eventually able to marry. 
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Jonathan Small Quotes

  • “From that day I only lived for vengeance. I thought of it by day an I nursed it by night”
  • “Tonga thought he had done something  very clever in killing him. I cursed him for a little blood-thirsty imp”
  • “It was an evil day for me when I first clapped eyes upon the merchant Achmet and had to do with the Agra treasure”
  • “A pretty justice! Whose loot is this, if it is not ours?”
  • “Where is the justice that I should give it up to those who have never earned it”
  • “I welted the little devil with the slack end of the rope for it”
  • “He was a sunburned, reckless-eyed fellow with a network of lines and wrinkles all over his mahogany features”
  • “This man Small is a pretty shrewd fellow”
  • “I tell you that it is four or none with us”
  • “I must have the consent of my three comrades”
  • “It is my treasure; and if I can’t have the loot I’ll take darned good care that no one else does”
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Tonga Character

  • •Tonga is an Andaman Islander – known as a Pygmy. He is nursed back to health after a bout of sickness by Jonathan Small to whom he becomes a loyal companion.
  • •He is presented as “Other” by the Victorian Society in which the text is set. Often receiving racism- “Black Cannibal”, “Savage”. The Victorian reader was frightened of what they did not understand.
  • •Tonga carries the tools of his people, including his poisonous darts and blowpipe with which he kills Bartholomew Sholto and attempts to kill Sherlock and Watson whilst they are pursuing their boat on the Thames. The death of Young Bartholomew was not the desire of Jonathan Small – who later “beat” Tonga.
  • •Tonga is shot and killed by Sherlock, he has a watery grave as he fell into the Thames.
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Tonga Quotes

  • “savage distorted creature”
  • “He was sick to death and had gone to a lonely place to die. I took him in hand, though he was a venomous young snake”
  • “It straightened itself into a little black man”
  • “half animal fury”
  • “He was stanch and true, was little Tonga. No man ever had a more faithful mate”
  • “Tonga thought he had one something clever in killing him. I cursed him for a little blood-thirsty imp”
  • “A great misshapen head and a shock of tangled, dishevelled hair”
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Tonga Quotes 2

  • “that face was enough to give a man a sleepless night”
  • “These massacres are invariably concluded by a cannibal feast”
  • “His small eyes glowed and burned with a sombre light, and his thick lips were writhed back from his teeth”
  • “marked with all ********** and cruelty”
  • “braining the survivors with their stone clubs”
  • “So intractable and fierce are they that all the efforts of the British officials have failed to win them over”
  • “a fierce and morose people”
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