This item is only available as the following downloads:
PRIVATE CRIMES AND PUBLIC INVASIONS: LADY DETECTIVES AND FEMALE CRIMINALITY IN LATE VICTORIAN MYSTERY STORIES BY ZIONA KOCHER A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Miriam Wallace Sarasota, Florida May 2013
ii Acknowledgements First, I must thank my advisor and sponsor, Dr. Miriam Wallace. Without her patience and support as I pestered her for edits and spent hours in her office discussing endless topics both related and unrelated to my topic, this thesis would have never happen ed. I am also exceedingly grateful to Dr. David Harvey and Dr. Wendy Sutherland for being part of my committee, and making my baccalaureate exam a truly wonderful experience. I am forever appreciative for all of the support given to m e by my parents, w ho constantly reminded me that I could make it through this process in one piece Last, but certainly not least thank you to all of the friends who helped me get through this process Extra special thanks t o Lauren and Rosie, for being the best roommates and support system I could ever ask for, and to Liz, Jonah, Everest, Hannah, and Sam for reminding me that it's important to have fun now and then.
iii Table of Contents Acknowledgements..ii Table of Contentsiii Abstract...iv Introductio n .. 1 Chapter One : The Consulting Detective .6 Chapter Two: The Invisible Woman .. 30 Chapter Three: The Angel in the House 51 Conclusion .73 Works Cited ...76
iv PRIVATE CRIMES AND PUBLIC INVASIONS: LADY DETECTIVES AND FEMALE CRIMINALITY IN LATE VICTORIAN MYSTERY STORIES Ziona Kocher New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT The mystery stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, C. L. Pirkis, and George R. Sims about the detectives Sherlock Holmes, Loveday Brooke, and Dorcas Dene explore the adherence to and rejection of idealized gender roles by female criminals and lady detectives. This exploration relies heavily on the societal importance of the division of the masculine public sphere and feminine private sphere, and the ways in which Victorian women subverted expectations by rejecting their designated place in soci ety in order to both commit and solve crimes. Anxieties concerning gender, class, and nationality are central to these stories, and they are presented in a way that critiques them while carefully maintaining the status quo. T he ways in which the female cha racters in these stories are constructed illustrate the ways in which the authors simultaneously reinforce and disrupt conceptions of morality and justice in Victorian society. Dr. Miriam Wallace Division of Humanities
1 Introduction During the late nineteenth century, the popularity of detective fiction exploded in England. Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, the subject of four novels and fifty six short stories, r emains the most well known of the figures created to meet the demand for mystery stories, but he was far from the only sleuth on the scene. Some of the most fascinating characters found in the pages of late Victorian mysteries were lady detectives, despite the fact that women played an incredibly minimal role in the Metropolitan police in the 1880s and 1890s. It was not until the early 1920s that Clara Walkden and Lilian Wyles were given the posts as the first policewoman and first female detective sergeant in the London Criminal Investigation Department, but "no other women were appointed to the C.I.D. until 1932" (Kestner Sherlock's Sisters 4). In literature, however, female detective figures can be found as early as the 1860s. C. L. Pirkis's Loveday Brooke and George R. Sims's Dorcas Dene appear in the wake of the popularity of Sherlock Holmes, but their roots are in mid century sensation fiction, which explored the boundaries of idealized gender roles. Within sensation novels, female characters often rebel against proper femininity through acts of adultery and deception, emphasizing Victorian anxieties concerning women. Pirkis, Sims, and Doyle all continue the exploration of these anxieties in their stories, using female criminals who reject societal norms as a means of illustrating and policing the complicated construction of femininity created by Victorian society. The separation of the public and private spheres within society is key to the ways in which gender is presented in these stories, and in Vict orian literature as a whole. The division of society into a masculine public sphere and complementary feminine private
2 sphere can be found throughout literary history. While this basic division is too simplistic to be applied to society at large, the const ruction of gendered spheres illustrates an idealized separation between the behaviors enacted by men and women, mapped out by a division in the spaces they populated. Within the series wr itten by Doyle, Pirkis and Sims there is a clear delineation between the feminine domestic sphere and the masculine public sphere, and many of the crimes that are committed involve the disruption of these boundaries. The construction of these spheres and gendered behavior rely heavily on each other, and because "images of p ublic and private are necessarily, if implicitly, tied to views of moral agency," the ways in which female criminals disrupt these boundaries illustrate Victorian anxieties concerning the way their society was organized (Elshtain 4). Criminals, however, ar e not the only ones who contribute to the collapse of the boundaries between public and private. Holmes, Brooke, and Dene, because of their roles as detectives, invade both the public and private spheres in order to solve mysteries, and in doing so, compli cate their gendered role in society. Arthur Conan Doyle's first novel about Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet was published in 1887 in Beeton's Christmas Annual Though the figure did not gain instant popularity, by the time the first short stories abo ut the detective had been printed in the Strand Magazine in 1891, Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson were well known and "each subsequent Holmes adventure published that year saw an increase in sales" of the magazine (Klinger xxxii). In A Study in Scarlet Sherlock Holmes describes himself as the first "consulting detective" a detective who, as the name suggests, consults on criminal matters when the police and private detectives have failed to solve a mystery. This is a career that he has created and on which he prides himself. Though his trusted
3 companion Dr. Watson narrates his stories, throughout them all Holmes remains an enigma; while his methods can be easily explained after the fact, his abilities in solving complicated crimes seem almost mystical Many of the criminals Holmes faces are men, but there are a few instances where the detective is faced with a case involving a criminal woman. These cases often prove to be particularly difficult for Holmes, in part due to his self confessed confusion co ncerning women. Unlike Watson, who is clear about his admiration and conventionally romantic appreciation of the fair sex throughout the series, Holmes' s views of women are somewhat disparaging. He frames idealized femininity's alignment with emotion in op position to his dedication to rationality and logic. The criminal women he faces, however, vary in their adherence to idealized gender roles, and his feelings towards them rely heavily on the ways they construct their roles as women. Catherine Louisa Pirk is's stories about the lady detective Loveday Brooke first appeared in the Ludgate Monthly in 1893, as Holmes was growing in popularity in the competing Strand Ludgate was marketed as a "family magazine," a publication that "proper young women could read without blushing," unlike the Strand which was largely focused on male readership (M. Sims 104). Despite the difference in the intended audience, Holmes and Brooke have quite a bit in common. Like Holmes, very little is revealed about Brooke's personal life, and she is above all else a professional detective. It is possible that this approach to writing her heroine was brought about by Pirkis's desire to distance herself from the romantic tensions and "feminine' style of (or gendered assumptions about) her earlier novels" (Gavin 139). In creating a female character who is uninterested in marriage and family, she subverted the Victorian demand that women remain within the domestic sphere. Brooke works for a detective agency independent
4 from Scotland Yard, under Mr. Ebenezer Dyer, and though she is well respected in her field, her talents are most often put to work in domestic spaces where she won't be recognized as an outsider. As a lady detective, she is almost always employed in cases where she can slip by unnoticed within the homes of her clients because of her gender, whether she is disguised as a maid or a lady of higher status. Pirkis's stories about Brooke illustrate the way that women's near invisibility in many social settings can be put to their a dvantage when it comes to investigation and detection. This invisibility was put to use by George Robert Sims as well, writing about his lady detective, Dorcas Dene. Unlike the stories about Holmes and Brooke, the stories about Dene were never published i n a serial form; instead, Sims published two complete volumes of short stories in 1897 and 1898. Dene has a great deal in common with her contemporaries: like Holmes, she has a companion who chronicles her adventures, and like Brooke, she takes advantage o f the ability her gender gives her to move through the public and private spheres with minimal detection. However, her priorities come in complete opposition of those shown by Holmes and Brooke. Dene's personal affairs are in the forefront of her stories, as she fills a dual role as both lady detective and angel in the house breaking from the traditional female ideal in one aspect of her life, yet reaffirming it in another. Her husband often plays a role in her success as a private detective, and her conc ern for him is on the same level as her concern for her cases. Unlike Holmes and Brooke, Dene is written in a way that provides her with a life outside of the myster ies she solves. However, this in no way takes away from her skills as a detective. Her abil ities rival those of Holmes, as she frequently goes undercover and
5 makes great leaps in reasoning to solve her cases. It is her ability to maintain both perfect feminine grace and an impressive career as a detective that makes Dene truly unique. The women present in these stories, as both detectives and criminals, illustrate ways in which Victorian expectations concerning gender and societal boundaries could be simultaneously subverted and reinforced. Though these women clearly rebel against their idealize d roles in society, many of their actions maintain aspects of traditional femininity. Brooke and Dene, because they were preserving the law, were excused from punishments for their subversive behavior; however, female criminals were often excused as well. These excuses were made because women were often either motivated to act criminally in an attempt to return their lives to a socially acceptable state, or because punishment would disrupt society more than the crime itself had. This is not the outcome for all female criminals, but for those who are punished, it is not simply because of the crime they committed it is also a result of their failed femininity. The focus of these stories upon female criminality and the construction of female detectives who ca n move between the public and private spheres without consequence illustrates the growing interest in women who push the boundaries of society in ways that are both beneficial and destructive.
6 Chapter One: The Consulting Detective The criminal women in the stories of Sherlock Holmes fill an interesting role in comparison to their masculine counterparts. While they commit many of the same crimes as men theft, blackmail, murder they rarely face the same consequences that men do. W hile these crimes would leave a man dead, imprisoned, or at the very least socially ruined, women are often able to get away with these acts with little more than a reprimand from Holmes. Female criminals are capable of avoiding the harsh consequences of t heir crimes because, unlike men, they are often framed as the victim as well as the perpetrator in these cases. In nearly all of the stories Doyle wrote about Sherlock Holmes, the women that he faced were first the victim and then the criminal they were driven to criminality by acts against them. Irene Adler, Charles Augustus Milverton's veiled murderess, and Lady Hilda were all targeted or blackmailed before they took the situation into their own hands, and for this reason, their crimes are excused. Beca use of their status as victims, the crimes these women committed can be justified, even if the actions they take might seem extreme in the context of the case. The woman who killed Milverton fits this model particularly well, since her actions eliminate a man who was seen as a major threat to society, and it appears that she should be celebrated rather than punished. The fact that the crimes these women commit are never truly punished contributes an important element to Holmes's view of the fair sex. In th e closing of "A Scandal in Bohemia," Watson states that, "he used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late. And when he speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to her photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the woman" (Doyle 1: 40).
7 This case, the first of Doyle's short stories about Holmes after the novels A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four illustrates a definite shift in Holmes's expectations of women. That said, it is obvious from later stor ies that his experiences with Irene Adler had a limited effect on his views of women in general. As they seek his aid and elude his investigation, Holmes's opinion of women is framed as one of respect, but it is clear that he believes there to be a distinc t separation between the abilities of men and women. Discussing a case concerning complicated blackmail schemes, he says, "Heaven help the man, and still more the woman, whose secret and reputation come into the power of Milverton," and it can be seen thro ughout the stories about Holmes that he views women as being more susceptible than men to the domination of others, and thus to crimes such as blackmail (2: 1008). This susceptibility appears to stem from a natural "goodness" and honesty that comes from fe mininity, rather than a lack of understanding or education. However, while Holmes often respects them for these qualities, it is clear that he holds men in higher esteem, whether they are upstanding citizens or criminal masterminds. The female criminal is therefore, a complicated creature in the eyes of Sherlock Holmes. Rosemary Jann makes the claim that throughout the Holmes stories it is assumed that, "women in general (like the lower classes) have less control over their emotions. That assumption also underlies Holmes's somewhat contradictory complaint that the motives' of women are inscrutable' precisely because they lack rationality" (Jann 697). While their status as susceptible victims allows them to justify their crimes, it must be recognized that these women defy conventional constructions of femininity in order to react to the crimes that have been committed against them. This contradiction relates to the way that morality is framed differently for men and women. Because of the separate
8 spheres t hat they are meant to inhabit, behavioral expectations are gendered differently, and women's criminality often relates to the rejection of these assigned social spheres. The crimes that are committed by women in these stories illustrate a rejection of the private sphere in favor of entering the public sphere, and in doing so, the boundaries between these two spaces begin to collapse, creating societal anxiety. The prevalence of disguise in these stories is striking and further collapses the barriers betwee n what is public and what is private. Disguises subvert the identities characters are meant to possess, and the gendered expectations that they are meant to meet. The disguises used range widely; from the veil worn by Milverton's killer, to the guise of a young woman taken on by Lady Hilda, to the men's clothing worn by Irene Adler, these women are able to obscure their true identities in a away that distances themselves from the crimes that they commit, while simultaneously giving them the power to commit them. They take on disguises so that they can exist in a world outside of their proper domain, where they do not belong, and where their behaviors are innately problematic within the scope of societal expectations. In disguising themselves, women take on n ew identities, and these identities provide them with mobility that they would not have otherwise, including across social class; however, their ability to do so illustrates the freedom that they have already gained from their status, supporting Jann's cla im that, "it is almost always characters from the higher classes who successfully counterfeit themselves" (695). These disguises, however, are not perfect, and when Holmes examines them, they often fail. It is important to note, though, that the failure of these disguises only comes about after they have been employed, and that even once they have been revealed, there is generally a lack of punishment for their subversion.
9 Holmes's motivation s for disguise are much the same as the lady criminals he faces in these stories; however, those he employs are often more complex and culturally complicated than those u sed by these women. While women's disguises certainly subvert various aspects of their true identity, those used by Holmes allow him to become a member of virtually any part of society and pass unnoticed by those around him. This ability is the cause of both interest and discomfort, for while Holmes employs disguises in order to solve crimes and benefit the public, this practice also highlights Victorian anxieties concerning the boundaries of class, race, and gender. Holmes's ability to pass as a gentleman, a stableman, and a clergyman with apparent ease forces the reader to question the construction of class difference. For Victorian readers, who were acc ustomed to a strict social order, this would be a source of distress or titillation. Jann points out that it is, "the ability to counterfeit himself [that] makes Holmes, the reader of all social codes, appear to be subject to none" (702). It is, therefore, Holmes's understanding of the social system that allows him to disrupt it in a way of which women are not capable of. "A Scandal in Bohemia" In "A Scandal in Bohemia," both the King and Irene Adler, as well as Holmes, don masks or costumes as a means of both protecting identity and gathering information, though the level of skill with which these disguises are used varies. These different examples illustrate the various reasons for concealment of identity, and help to create an unusual dynamic between th e three characters who use these means to hide themselves where they might not belong. In fact, it is the use of disguise, and success in doing so,
10 that creates a hierarchy among the characters, with Adler at the top, the King at the bottom, and Holmes stu ck in between. As is so often the case, the story is framed in such a way that the reader takes on the same values and judgments that are put forth by Holmes and "written" by Watson, and thus the story leaves the reader unimpressed by the monarch and stunn ed by his former mistress. This story is one of the few that Doyle wrote in which Holmes is bested by his opponent, and it introduces a number of issues that become central to the cases that Holmes investigates. The King of Bohemia employs him in order to retrieve an incriminating photograph taken with a jilted lover, the American opera singer Irene Adler, which has the potential to be used for blackmail. Over the course of the case, Holmes realizes that he has underestimated the woman he is up against, as it is eventually revealed that Adler has no intention of using the photograph for blackmail unless she feels threatened by the King. This does not, however, prevent her from fighting his attempts at retrieving it from her. Blackmail, in this story, is a m eans of protection rather than a means of extorting money or gaining power, yet it is still approached as one of the worst crimes that can be committed. Adler is framed by the King as the worst possible dange r to his future marriage, for, she has the face of the most beautiful of women, and the m ind of the most resolute of men" (Doyle 1: 18). Holmes discovers this to be true in his dealings with her, for while he temporarily deceives her, she is able to best him, and the story ends with a triumphant Adler and an embarrassed but impressed detective. The King of Bohemia enters the story in costume, but his attempts at deception are short lived, as Holmes quickly reveals his knowledge of Count Von Kramm's true identity. The fact that Holmes is able to see thr ough the king's disguise so quickly and so
11 easily acts as a means of showing both Holmes's powers of observation and the King's ineptitude. He is described in terms that are far from flattering, and Watson goes so far as to say that, "his dress was rich wi th a richness which would, in England, be looked upon as akin to bad taste" (1: 14). This costume, rather than allowing him to hide in plain sight, reveals him as being fraudulent. Unlike the other disguises used in this story, the King uses a disguise out of fear for his reputation it is a means of hiding. In a story that values cleverness and cunning, the King's inability to hide his true identity from Holmes emphasizes his failure in other areas of his life. It also acts as foreshadowing, not only of t he disguises that Holmes uses in order to gather information about Adler, but also of his failure to recognize Adler's ability to deceive him. The fact that Holmes dresses as a groom and a clergyman is essential to both the plot and the social context of this story. These two figures fall at different levels of the social hierarchy, and they show Holmes's carefully calculated approach to slipping by unnoticed in order to discover what he is looking for. As a groom, he belongs to a low enough station that h e is able to enter the world surrounding Adler's home with ease, and during the wedding scene, he is seen as little more than a placeholder in order to insure that the marriage is valid. As a clergyman, Holmes holds a slightly higher position, but the trus t he gains from posing as a man of God is almost equal to the indifference shown by those he encounters as a groom. It is important to consider the way that Holmes uses these classed disguises as a means to permeate Adler's world: as a groom, he is able to freely navigate the public realm, and once he learns what he can there, he enters the private sphere as a clergyman. Then, once he gains confidence in the information he has collected, he enters the private sphere again, this time without a disguise.
12 Holmes, however, does not succeed in his final mission. During his time in her home, Adler begins to have her own suspicions, and dons a man's clothing in order to find out the truth. Following Holmes and Watson back to Ba ker Street she bids them a good n ight, and they are only vaguely curious as to who it may have been: "I've heard that voice before," said Holmes, staring down the dimly lit street. Now, I wonder who the deuce that could have been'" (1: 36). This inability to recognize Adler when she is dressed as a man is reminiscent of the introduction of the King, and it creates an interesting dichotomy of what Holmes can and cannot deduce and understand. In comparing these two scenes, it would appear that Adler creates something of a blind spot for Ho lmes, which suggests that she is playing the game at his level. Others, like the King, might try to fool him, but it takes someone spectacular to succeed. Her gender also plays an important role in her deception, as throughout Doyle's stories it is repeate dly suggested that Holmes does not truly understand women, despite his ability to determine their desires and motivations. Crompton explains that "only retrospectively can Holmes and the reader reconstruct their memory of the scene, forcing Adler into a w oman's place on the gender identity continuum, and thereby resolving the mystery The idea that a woman might change her gender identity in order to confuse him does not occur to Holmes, and it creates an anxiety similar to that which he creates when disg uising himself as a member of another class. She goes on to claim that, "in A Scandal in Bohemia,' the revelation that characters have been in disguise is meant to neutralize the anxiety caused by the thought that dissimulators might pass with impunity" ( Crompton). This story, then, exposes Holmes to the anxieties that he creates, and illustrates the fact that they can only
13 be resolved with the return of the status quo. Had Adler maintained her disguise as a man, or if Holmes never returned to his normal g arb after changing his identity for a case, it would unbalance the societal boundaries of class and gender. Because Holmes relies so heavily on these boundaries, and the information he can gather about those who interact with them, such disruptions complic ate his ability to analyze the facts that are put before him, especially as they relate to women. In the end, it is his confusion about women that leads to Holmes's downfall when pitted against Adler. When the king first approaches him to take the case, H olmes assumes that obtaining the photographs will be a simple feat; after all, a woman's motivations are simple to ascertain, and a woman in this situation will be most concerned with self preservation after being wronged by a wealthy man. It never crosses his mind that she has as little interest in the photographs being made public as the King does, and it is completely beyond him that a woman might have caught on to his game. The blackmail plot of this story, then, is vastly different from the others in w hich Holmes is involved. Rather than focusing on the results of this crime, it explores the motivations behind its potential, and Holmes is surprised by what he discovers. That a woman would use the threat of blackmail to protect herself is not unheard of, but that she would abandon such threats without gaining anything from the person she is threatening seems foreign. There is an assumption here that female criminals commit their actions out of desperation for security; that Adler abandons her potential cr ime in order to claim security of a different kind illustrates a clear division for Holmes between her and the other women he faces. With Adler, Holmes has met his match, and unlike in the case of Professor Moriarty, they are not on wholly opposing sides. Harrington claims that, "the
14 characteristics that set Irene Adler apart so do not demonize her in the expected pattern of the sensation narrative; instead, her forthright sexuality, her boldness, her use of drag to expand the range of spaces she can comfo rtably enter make her more desirable to Holmes, who mocks the King's regret that she is not, as he puts it, on his level." The story ends with mutual respect for a game well played rather than a need for justice or vengeance, and the acknowledgement of a d eep rooted similarity between the consulting detective and the woman. Their ability to reject social convention and move in spheres outside their own through the use of cross dressing shows a sort of mirroring between the two characters that is emphasized by the way that Adler eludes Holmes in the end. In fact, even her description of the investigation she performs is almost identical to an explanation one would expect from the detective. Holmes and Adler use the same methods, testing their subjects in the ir own spheres: first in Adler's home, where Holmes confirms that, "when a woman thinks her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she values most," and then outside of 221B Baker Street, where Adler, dressed as a man, is able to confirm her suspicions about Holmes's identity by making him break character (Doyle 1: 33). Irene Adler is the only woman to ever beat Holmes, and that Doyle introduced her after writing only two novels about the sleuth is telling. Irene Adler humbles Holmes while setting the stage for other women to bewilder him, and "t hough the Adler case is technically a failure, its portrayal of Holmes both humanizes him and mythologizes him as a detective, further supporting his mandate as a force of justice" (Har rington). Despite the changes it supposedly made in Holmes's views of the fair sex, however,
15 the reversal and decentering taking place in A Scandal in Bohemia' (the male world order turned upside down by [a] foreign classless female), followed by a recen tering (the original British upper class male world order restored in the end) is the embodiment, the illustration of nineteenth century societal views, of its obsessions, its fears of chaos. (Krumm 199) Despite the ways that Holmes subverts societal ideal s, he ultimately returns them to normalcy by completing the case he was hired to address, but in doing so, these anxieties themselves are revealed and explored. "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" Though Irene Adler may have been the only woma n who ever beat him, she was certainly not the only dangerous woman with whom Holmes came in contact. In The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton," Watson and Holmes are witness to one of the most grisly crimes committed by a woman in Doyle's stories. The murder of Charles Augustus Milverton was violent, but in the eyes of Holmes, and of the Scotland Yard, it is seen as an act of justice. Committed by a woman whose identity is never revealed to the audience, the story behind this murder is only told bec ause enough time has passed since the events it describes have occurred that the principal person concerned is beyond the reach of human law, and with due suppression the story may be told in s uch fashion as to injure no one" (Doyl e 2: 1006). This story, unlike "A Scandal in Bohemia," fully explores the ramifications of blackmail, comparing it to other crimes. Additionally, it explores the gendered nature of the law in a fairly explicit way, focusing, "on the
16 inadequacy of law when applied to women, with t he implication that it supports nefarious males with minimal sentences" (Kestner, Sherlock's Men 147). Holmes becomes involved in the case after being contacted by Lady Eva Brackwell concerning threats of blackmail from Charles Augustus Milverton, who ha s threatened to release sensitive documents to her fiance if she did not pay him a large sum of money. Milverton is well known for this kind of intimidation, and in reference to his illustrious c riminal career, Holmes states, "I' ve had to do with fifty mu rderers in my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow" (Doyle 2: 1007). It is obvious that Holmes views blackmail as one of the worst possible crimes; that he is incapable of dissuading Milverton from his plan to ruin Lady Eva if she does not give in to his demands illustrates the power that blackmail can hold. Holmes' s willingness to act outside of the law in a desperate attempt to prevent the continuation of Milverton's actions, and the fact that his murder i s framed as justice being served, further emphasizes the Victorian view of blackmail as a wholly dishonorable act. Blackmail's ability to blur the line between the public and private spheres creates an anxiety very similar to that caused by the use of disg uises and the subversion of social boundaries. Milverton' s approach to blackmail is on a much greater scale than Irene Adler's ever was. While Adler' s threats were a means of per sonal protection, Milverton created a system that turned blackmail into an oc cupation. By definition, blackmail is a means of profiting from information, but the systematic nature of Milverton' s actions frame it as a business venture, where he profits from selling secrets back to their rightful owners. By making personal informatio n so valuable, the distinction between what is private and what is public becomes difficult to discern, and in a society which puts a great deal of
17 importance on the separation of the two, his success in these ventures is unsurprising. It is this approach to personal matters that disturbs Holmes so greatly, as Milverton describes hi s threats towards Lady Eva as, "purely a matter of business" (2: 1012). Though Holmes is willing to cross social boundaries and explore the secrets of every person he encounter s without any qualms, Milverton' s use of personal information for personal gain disgusts him. It is this disgust that leads Holmes to take such drastic measures in order to stop Milverton' s threats agains t Lady Eva. As in many of Doyle' s stories, Holmes adop ts a disguise in order to gather information about his opponent, but what is striking about this particular instance of disguise is the way that he involves those around him to make it more convincing. One of the hallmarks of many of the disguises Holmes u ses is the way that they allow him to pass completely unnoticed in spaces where he does not belong. By blending in, Holmes is able to gather information that is uninfluenced by his presence. In this story, however, Holmes' s disguise is embellished by the a ttention that he draws to himself that of a young woman. He becomes engaged to Milverton's housemaid in order to gain access to the house, and in doing so is able to plan a burglary, in which he hopes to gain the papers that Milverton intends to use agai nst Lady Eva. This use of disguise illustrates a way in which, "Holmes exploits the confusion between sexual and factual exchange," in order to gain information, suggesting that he and Milverton are actually similar to each other, for while they have dif ferent motives, they are acting in much the same way (Jann 698). This plot leads to another disguise, one that is vastly different from those Holmes usually employs. Rather than using elaborate costumes to hide their identities, Watson and Holmes don black silk masks that obscure their faces
18 and dress clothes when breaking into Milverton's home. These outfits hide their intentions before they arrive, and conceal enough of their identity to prevent their immediate discovery if caught. Upon breaking into Milverton' s home, Holmes and Watson are prepared to steal the documents he intends to use against Lady Eva. They are stopped, however, when they realize that their opponent is not asleep, as they had previously imagined, but instead in the next room awaiti ng a visitor. The two men are then witness to an appalling scene, wherein Milverton is murdered by one of the many women whose lives he has left in ruin. Like Watson and Holmes, she too has hidden her face. By doing so, she leads Milverton to believe that he has gained another confidante he can use for his own gain. It is the revelation of her identity, rather than its concealment, that brings this mysterious woman power, and the descriptio n of the exposure is striking: The woman without a word raised her veil and dropped the mantle from her chin. It was a dark, handsome, clear cut face which confronted Milverton, a face with a curved nose, strong, dark eyebrows shading hard, glittering eyes, and a straight, thin lipped mouth set in a dangero us smile. "It i s I," she said; the wo man whose life you have ruined (Doyle 2: 1024) The surprise and dismay that Milverton displays upon this revelation emphasizes the false sense of omnipotence that he gained from the damage he has done to others. That he is assassinated by this woman he has wronged after she reveals her true identity is framed as an act of justice, rather than as a crime.
1 9 The killer' s true identity is never revealed to the reader, despite the fact that Holmes and Watson discover who she is t he following day. This anonymity, though not technically a disguise, furthers the power she holds by removing her from the reaches of the law. Discussing the murder with Lestrade, Holmes states, "The fact is that I knew this fellow Milverton, that I consid ered him one of the most dangerous men in London, and that I think there are certain crimes which the law cannot touch, and which therefore, to some extent, justify private revenge" (2: 1029). This statement again emphasizes the separation of the public an d private spheres, and illustrates an idea of justice that works outside of the established boundaries of police authority. It is logical that Holmes, who so often evades the censure of such authority, would accept this concept of reve nge as reparation, bu t Lestrade' s apparent willingness to let a murderer walk free emphasizes a wider societal view on blackmail specifically, as a crime that deserves particularly harsh consequences. By justifying her actions in this way, Holmes and Lestrade complicate her id entity further, as it presents conflicting views concerning femininity and criminality. Violent crimes such as murder are incompatible with idealized Victorian femininity, and women who commit such crimes were severely chastised for their violation of soci etal expectations. That Milverton's murderess is allowed to walk free blurs the line between proper womanhood and violent criminality. The intersections of gender, class, and criminal behavior in this story are crucial to Doyle's presentation of women, as they simultaneously confirm and undermine Victorian ideals of femininity. By killing Milverton, the unidentified murderess subverts feminine ideals of passivity and innocence, but it was her susceptibility and heightened emotions that led her to these actions. These conflicting aspects of femininity complicate
20 the way that women are supposed to behave, and the ways in which they are judged in the eyes of society. This complicated construction of femininity might in some ways account for the confusion th at Holmes displays concerning women. While he is willing to go to great lengths to protect Lady Eva, he is also willing to use the affections of a housemaid in order to gain information. In this story, Holmes uses women as resources Lady Eva is an excuse to undermine Milverton, who is the real enemy, the housemaid is a means of gaining access to his house, and the veiled killer destroys Milverton in a way that Holmes himself cannot. Kestner claims that, "the text demonstrates the elimination of a brutal f orm of masculinity as a chivalric act with Holmes as St. George, despite the illegalities entailed" ( Sherlock's Men 148). However, in order to do so, he resorts to an, "abusive courtship of the maid Agatha in order to gain information about Milverton's hou se [which] is subsumed in his mind by the ultimate object of their quest" ( Sherlock's Men 148). Though Kestner frames this as an illustration of "the inadequacy of the law vis vis women," it must be remembered that Holmes is placed in a position of super iority over all of the women in the story ( Sherlock's Men 148). Even though the killer acts as Holmes cannot, it is obvious that she is still subjugated by him, as are Lady Eva and the housemaid, because he holds the key to her identity, and thus the means to decide her fate. While Holmes is incapable of punishing Milverton for the crimes he committed, the women in this story become means for the detective to destroy the threat Milverton poses to society, and the position of female criminality is twisted be cause of the belief that it is justified.
21 "The Adventure of the Second Stain" As in the previous stories, Holmes faces blackmail and murder in The Adventure of the Second Stain," but these two crimes are complicated by a third the theft of a sensiti ve government document from the home of British Secretary of European Affairs, Trelawney Hope. It is the theft of this document that leads to Holmes's involvement in the case, and it is only after he has begun investigating this crime that the other two ar e brought to his attention. In this story, murder and blackmail are intertwined, but unlike in the case of Milverton's death, the connection between the two crimes is extremely complicated. Once again, it is the blackmailer who dies, but his death comes le ss as reparation for his crimes but as a coincidence one that simultaneously draws away from and leads to the criminal Holmes is seeking. Because Eduardo Lucas' s death was not a consequence of his plot against Hope's wife, the case does not come to an en d until Holmes is able to determine that it was she who stole the documents in the first place, as a result of the threats made against her. The blackmail involved here acts to further collapse the distinction between private and public spheres, as the pri vacy of one person is compromised thereby threatening the safety of the nation. Kestner claims that, "the point of the text is that [the] separation of public from private is not tenable, especially if women become involved. Personal actions have potenti al international and global consequences" ( Sherlock's Men 151). He points to the title of the story as a signal of this collapse, as it, "indicates that both its internal affairs (represented by the domestic affairs of the Trelawney Hopes) and its external (signified by the murder of Lucas and his threatened blackmail) are both stained,'" ( Sherlock's Men 151). Holmes becomes involved in an attempt to remove these stains.
22 When Holmes is first approached to invest igate the disappearance of Hope' s document, it appears that the only mystery he must solve is that of the theft. It is not long, however, before a man believed to be involved in its disappearance is found murdered. With the news of this murder comes a visit from the wife of Trelawney Hope, Lady Hil da, desperate to discover the contents of the document that has been taken. Holmes refuses to disclose any information to her, and upon her departure asks his companion Now, Watson, the fair sex is your depa rtment What was the fair lady' s game? What di d she really want?" (Doyle 2: 1203). That Holmes asks Watson for his opinion on Lady Hope's actions illustrates both hi s desire to disprove his friend' s assumptions, and the fact that he often has trouble deciphering the motivations of women. Later in thei r conversation, Holmes declares, the motiv es of women are so inscrutable," emphasizing the fact that while he knows that Lady Hilda is being dishonest, he is unable to fully discern her involvement and motivation (2: 1203). This confusion is reminiscent o f that which he feels when faced by Irene Adler, though it would seem that in the time since she bested him, he has become less confident of his understanding of women. Holmes' s suspicion of Lady Hilda further illustrates his belief in a connection betwe en femininity and susceptibility. Her behavior during her visit to Baker Street alerted him to her involvement in some way, but he is clearly hesitant to lay blame upon her. There is also a question of trust concerning marriage Trelawney Hope does not tr ust his wife with information about his work, and "the failure of confidence in a marriage is noteworthy in the text, denoting that male patriarchal authority commands fear and obedience rather than confidence and respect" (Kestner, Sherlock's Men 150). La dy Hilda's behavior, however, shows that this authority is not complete. It is not until
23 Holmes's visit to the scene of Lucas's death that he is able to determine her connection to the case, when a police con stable describes a woman with "pretty, coaxing w ays," who wanted to look at the crime scene and which he, thinking "there was no harm in letting her just put her head through the door, permitted (Doyle 2: 1214). This woman fainted, and was left alone while the constable went to seek help. Upon his ret urn, she had vanished, and it was after her disappearance that inconsistencies were discovered at the crime scene. This information allowed Holmes to recognize Lady Hilda' s involvement in the case he determines she had been threatened by Luc as in order t o gain her husband' s political documents, and after Lucas's death, used this subterfuge to enter his lodgings and retrieve the letters he was using against her. Lucas' s death also revealed the elements of disguise at work in this story. Holmes suspected E duardo Lucas's involvement in the theft of these documents because of his reputation, yet he was killed for an entirely different reason. In their investigation, the police discover that Lucas had been leading a double life as M. Henri Fournaye, and had a wife residing in France. She came to London to murder her husband, and, an examination showed that she had indeed developed mania of a dangerous and permanent form" (2: 120 6). Though Holmes states that, "The man' s death is a mere incident a trivial episode in comparison with our real task, which is to trace this document and save a Europ ean catastrophe," it is important to examine the way that femininity is portrayed here in comparison to the way that it is embodied by Lady Hilda (2: 1207). Lucas's double life is framed in opposition of social expectation s, and his wife is described as of Creole origin [and] of an extremely excitable nature, and has suffered in the past from attacks of jealousy which have amounted to a frenzy" (2: 1206). Lady
24 Hilda however, represents the height of propriety and is the perfect English wife: she is beautiful, dutiful, and dedicated to her husband. It is this dedication, however, that creates the susceptibility that Holmes views as innately feminine. Lady Hilda is blackmailed because of her role as the ideal English woman she is so devoted to her husband that she fears hurting him personally by having her innocent early letters exposed more than ruining his political career by stealing a government document that i s in his hands. The opposition that is put in place here is the same as in other blackmail cases: the public and private spheres oppose each other while simultaneously collapsing together. Lucas recognizes Lady Hilda's motivations, and uses them to his adv antage, relying on her desire to protect her husband from a letter from her past to gain a document that could very well destroy his future. When Holmes confronts her on the matter, she is extremely defensive before finally confessing: Oh, Mr. Holmes, I w ould cut off my right hand before I gave him a moment of sorrow! There is no woman in all London who loves her husband as I do, and yet if he knew how I have acted how I have been compelled to act he would never forgive me. For his own honour stands so high that he could not forget or pardon a lapse in another. Help me, Mr. Holmes! My happiness, his happines s, our very lives are at stake! (2: 1218) Lady Hilda's passion for her husband's happiness and well being mirrors the passion of Mme. Fournaye as a more acceptable form of feminine behavior, and while it is somewhat admirable, it clearly leads to the troubles she faces in this story. Lady Hilda's behavior, from her trust in Lucas that "no harm could come to [her] husband," to the theft
25 of the letters that could potentially destroy her husband's career, embodies the aspects of femininity that Holmes finds so questionable (2: 1218). In this story, unlike in "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton," Holmes acts as a stabil izing force, returning the lives of those involved to the status quo. By returning the documents to Hope's despatch box without an explanation of the blackmail plot, Holmes obscures Lady Hilda's "crimes," and removes the connection between Lucas's murder a nd the scandal. Because Lucas is already dead, there is no need to further pursue his intended crimes, and because Lady Hilda acted out of love and fear, Holmes hides her actions in order to preserve her relationship with her husband. The solution of this mystery fully supports the claims made by Jann that "although in theory the order of the Holmesian universe rests on the inescapable typing of all classes, in practice the upper classes are more likely to elude the determinism of such typing, just as they more successful resist the exposure of their secrets and escape the penalties of the criminal justice system" (687). Similarly, Metress makes the claim that, "by the end of the story, Holmes, Lady Hilda, and Lord Bellinger have shifted roles and shifte d them in such a way that they lead, like Eduardo Lucas/Henri Fournaye, a double life of detection and diplomacy" (45). The status of these characters allows them to make these changes in identity freely, and the actions taken by Lady Hilda in particular c learly illustrate the variable standards by which individuals of different classes and genders are judged.
26 Femininity versus Criminality The tendency to allow women to commit criminal actions without full repercussions illustrates the views that Holmes, and Doyle's society at large, held about women. In part, these views came about because of the nature of the crimes that they commit in t hese particular stories, "the crimes that Doyle fears are less violations of the official law than challenges to the social and sexual conventions that insured order in his world" (Jann 704). It is this disruption that must be corrected, and "Holmes's disc rete interventions are sometimes necessary to readjust the balance of power in this world, but order itself need never be seriously threatened so long as its conventions are biologically inscribed in members of society" (704). For this reason, women are ca pable of participating in crime while simultaneously being excluded from the consequences, and the dual role they often fill as victim and criminal complicates the way they can be punished by authority. Because women are expected to exist within the privat e sphere under the care and patronage of men, it is often difficult to apply official law which exists within the public sphere to their actions, even when their crimes act as a violation of the boundaries of the two positions. Female criminals are al so framed this way because of the widespread belief that women were morally underdeveloped, and therefore could not be held fully responsible for the immorality of their actions because it was biologically embedded in them. Exploring Freud's idea of the su perego, Sagan emphasizes the fact that he believed women "are incapable of the same degree of superego development as men," and therefore were held to different standards of morality (8). Freud believed that the superego develops out of the fear of castrat ion, and because "women are castrated'
27 before the Oedipus conflict, [they] never achieve a developed superego" (8). Because of the necessity of this masculine fear, those who adhered to psychoanalysis believed women to be biologically incapable of the sam e level of moral development as men, and Freud made the claim that, "for women the level of what is ethically normal is different from what it is in men. Their superego is never so inexorable, so impersonal, so independent of its emotional origins as we re quire it to be in men" (77). Though Freud's theories w ere often extreme, they did hold merit in Victorian society, and these beliefs hold true in the judgment of women in Doyle's stories. Even Holmes does not expect women to display the same kinds of moral ity as men. In Women and Economics Charlotte Perkins Gilman discusses women's morality and tendency towards criminality in a way that sharply contrasts Freud's, removing responsibility from the biology of the individual. It is instead on the societal ide als that women are taught, for not woman, but the condition of woman, has always been a doorway of evil. She was not allowed to acquire the qualities needed in our racial advance; and, in her position of arrested development, she has maintained the virt ues and the vices of the period of human evolution at which she was imprisoned" (329 330). This approach to feminine morality suggests that women and men are not innately different in their views of morality, but instead are taught different standards. She goes on to critique this method of developing morality, and the restraints upon women in general: Worse than the check set upon the physical activities of women has been the restriction of their power to think and judge for themselves. In her rudimenta ry position, woman was denied the physical freedom which underlies all knowledge, she was denied the mental freedom which is the
28 path to further wisdom, she was denied the moral freedom of being mistress of her own action and of learning by the merciful la w of consequences what was right and what was wrong; and she has remained, perforce, undeveloped in the larger judgment of ethics. (335) Women, therefore, do not have the same moral standards as men because they are not taught as men are. This distinction translates to the different standards that are required by the feminine private sphere and the masculine public sphere. Female criminals who break out of the private sphere, then, do not have a thorough grasp of the expectations concerning morality in the realm of the public sphere, and they are simultaneously punished and excused for their lack of understanding. In applying this theory of morality to the female criminals of "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton," and "The Ad venture of the Second Stain," it is clear that these three women are attempting to act in the public sphere despite the fact that, in the eyes of society, they do not belong there. Of the three, Irene Adler is the closest to fitting into that part of the w orld, for she is able to be at Holmes at his own game. I n the end, however, she retires to the feminine ideal of a loving marriage, though entirely on her own terms. Milverton's killer has a similar public image: her photograph can be readily seen in a shop window, and it is this public persona that puts her at risk for blackmail. Her crime, however, is seen as serving justice due to the destruction that Milverton had caused in the lives of so many people. It is La dy Hilda who most clearly illustrates the disparity in the moral teachings of men and women. She is shielded from every public aspect of her husband's life, and it is her belief that his familial happiness ranks above all else that leads her to immoral act ions. These crimes
29 are excused, then, because the women who committed them have left the worlds they are meant to inhabit, and entered into a space where they do not belong they are not punished because they are incapable of understanding the moral expec tations of a space that they have invaded, and because these standards are not designed to be applied to women, they cannot be punished.
30 Chapter Two: The Invisible Woman Loveday Brooke, though not the first female detective created by a female writer, r emains one of the most well known of the lady detectives found in Victorian literature. First featured in the Ludgate Monthly in 1893, C.L. Pirkis's The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective" introduced audiences to a new kind of woman one whose professional endeavors overshadow any need to know about her personal interests or occupations. The stories about Loveday Brooke, like those about Sherlock Holmes, place their emphasis entirely on the professional life of the detective. In fact, Pirkis is even more adamant about shielding Brooke' s personal life from the view of the audience, revealing details about Brooke' s appearance and backgrou nd briefly in the first story, Th e Black Bag Left on a Doorstep," and rarely returning to them as the series c on tinues. The details of Brooke' s personal life are irrelevant to the cases she is involved in, and therefore irrelevant to the stories that Pirkis tells. While many stories that have women in the forefront emphasize emotional depth and the psychological growth of the female protagonist, Brooke' s depth and personal growth over the course of the narrative is unimportant. Instead, the focus is on her success as an investigator, and the fact that she is able to prove herself to be just as capable as a man in her position. Discussing Brooke' s role in the hierarchy of society, Gavin points out that Pirkis does not place emphasis on Brooke's struggle to enter t he public sphere, but instead, represents women's independent working life as a starting point from whi ch to progress rather than an end to be fought for and gained" (140). Thus Brooke' s place as a detective is already a given, and her goal to become successful illustrates a desire for women to do more than
31 just enter into the public sphere in doing so, t hey want to be productive and progressive. Brooke' s role as a detective in the public sphere creates disruption in the private, domestic sphere as well. Though she rejects the trappings of marriage, and is never shown in her own home, Brooke is incapable o f fully removing herself from the private sphere where society believes that s he belongs. Gavin states that, female detectives are public women' but as the term secret watchings' implies, they often investig ate the secrets of private life" (147). In n early every case she works on, Brooke is hired because of her ability to move within the private sphere unnoticed, just as Holmes is hired for his ability to do the same in the public sphere. This gendered binary of movement apparently reinforces the Victo rian social hierarchy. Entering the domestic sphere, however, Brooke acts as an invading force, both because of her status as a public woman, and because she is always an outsider, despite the fact that her gender allows her presence in that sphere. Young explores the construction of Brooke as a public woman who invades the private sphere: The character that results from this fusion is not in the end particularly coherent. Even in her incarnation as Loveday Brooke, she is an amalgam of too many contradictio ns; a lady, after all, would not demean herself in many of the ways that Loveday does in her undercover roles. The female detective does have a place, however, in the consideration of women in the venues of work and of fiction in that she allows writers to explore and experiment with ways of imagining what in the Victorian period was another anomaly the middle class working woman. (26)
32 This connection between gender, labor, and class is further explored in these stories, as Brooke is involved in cases pertaining to people of all social statuses, and comes in contact with various kinds of women during her investigations. The cases faced by Loveday Brooke vary widely, from crimes of passion, such as murder and adultery, to those that are carefully calculated, like bribery or theft. However, there is one thing that links together many of the women who behave criminally in these stories: mar riage. Just as the female criminals faced by Sherlock Holmes were motivated to their actions by threats to their marital bliss, those faced by Brooke behaved as they did as a means of securing themselves though that security did not always come in the fo rm of matrimony. In "A Princess's Vengeance," "Drawn Daggers," and "Missing!" Loveday Brooke is hired in order to untangle plots relating to marriage, so that societal balance may be returned to the lives of those who have sought out her services. That th ese stories center on marriage in this way illustrates a shift from those concerning Holmes. While marriage was often key to the cases he unraveled, it was framed in a very different way. When Holmes was brought in to solve a case involving a married woman the major concern was the way that she was abandoning the domestic sphere and forcing herself into the public sphere, like Lady Hilda when she became involved in a blackmail plot pertaining to her husband's position in the government. In Brooke's cases, however, these plots remain almost entirely within the domestic sphere, illustrating that criminality can exist within a space that is typically framed as one of safety and ha ppiness, and one that acts as a symbol of British security. It is not only the d isruption of the domestic sphere that brings Brooke into the lives of her clients, however. In these three stories she finds herself seeking young
33 women who have gone missing. These missing women are from different backgrounds, and each has different reaso ns for disappearing, yet their disappearances show a common problem within the domestic sphere. These women illustrate the fact that discord can originate within the domestic sphere, and that it is not simply the improper rejection of this feminized space that leads to criminality and conflict. The pressures of domesticity and duty drive Mdlle. Cunier, Miss Monroe, and Iren Golding out of their homes and into the public sphere. Though they are not necessarily the criminals in these stories, their rejectio n of the roles they are meant to fill is reminiscent of the criminality represented by the women faced by Sherlock Holmes. They refuse to bow to the power systems that are already in place, choosing to abandon their homes of their own volition in order to find what they believe to be security. The successes and failures faced by Brooke simultaneously reinforce and subvert societal ideals of feminine power and independence, blurring the lines of acceptable behavior for young women. "A Princess's Vengeance" The first missing woman that Brooke is hired to find is Mdlle. Lucie Cunier, in "A Princess's Vengeance." Originally from Switzerland, M d lle. Cunier was working as a secretary for a well known organizer of charitable missions, Mrs. Druce, and while doing so caught the attention of this woman's son, Major Druce. The Major, despite being engaged to Princess Dullah Veih, a wealthy young woman of Turkish descent, is open in his admiration of his mother's secretary bringing about the jealousy of his fiance, as well as his butler, who is secretly engaged to Mdlle. Cunier. This pair of engagements introduces the fact that marriage, as well as fidelity and trust, is central to the
34 disappearance of Mdlle. Cunier, as well as to her discovery. When Major Druce appr oaches Brooke's employer, Mr. Dyer, to have the lady detective find the missing woman, Druce is wholly ignorant of the conflict he has created, and it is Brooke's job to recognize the aspects of the case that he has overlooked. While Druce suspects foul pl ay led to Mdlle. Cunier's disappearance, his failure to recognize the intricate social constructs he is disrupting prevents him from seeing the true motivations for the actions that are taken in this case. Upon entering the Druce residence, however, Brooke is able to uncover the scheme after only a few hours. This illustrates not only her powers of observation (necessary for success as a detective), but also the specifically gendered skills and abilities she possesses that place her in a position to observe what men might overlook. One of the most important aspects of Brooke's role as a lady detective is her ability to navigate the private sphere with little or no suspicion. She is capable of entering into exclusive spaces and discovering intimate details about the lives of others because she is not viewed as a threat, and is able to easily hide any aspects of her character that might be intimidating. Before entering his mother's home, Major Druce asks Brooke how she should be introduced: "What rle will yo u take up this afternoon? Pose as a faddist of some sort, if you want to win my mother's heart" (Pirkis 157). Though her residence becomes a public venue when Mrs. Druce receives guests, it remains a private sphere where one needs a specific reason for bei ng present, and it is important that Brooke forgoes a disguise when invading this space. She remains unnoticed while observing the actions of the princess and her entourage, and pays special attention to those of whom Druce was least suspicious. After a fe w hours of observation, Brooke reveals herself to
35 Mrs. Druce, the princess, and their companions, Lady Gwynne and Hafiz Cassimi, whom Major Druce believes has endangered Mdlle. Cunier. Carefully reading the reactions of this group, as well as those of the butler, Brooke is able to form a hypothesis concerning the whereabouts of the missing woman, and after a stop at a hat shop and an undertaker (who also fills the office of verger for a nearby church), she is able to confirm it. Brooke waits until the nex t morning to reveal her findings to Major Druce, choosing to take him to witness the wedding of Mdlle. Cunier and his butler, Lebrun, rather than simply explaining the plot that she has uncovered. In doing so, Brooke reveals the numer ous layers of social d ialogue to which he was ignorant from his powerful position in his mother's household. Though Princess Dullah Veih initially enthralled him, their engagement was based largely on the ways that both parties would benefit socially and financially, and he fai led to consider that his fiance might be threatened by the interest he showed in his mother's secretary. Similarly, because Lebrun was stationed so far below him, the Major was completely oblivious to the signs of Lebrun's jealousy. Because of her ability to read these subtle or occasionally completely blatant social cues, Brooke is able to uncover the plot that has been created to protect the engagement between the Major and the princess. Looking at this story, Kestner points out that "the ultimate re venge is that he is forced because of his wastrel habits to marry a wealthy Middle Eastern women for whom he has no affection. The Major becomes the commodified object, as the Princess will use him to gain access to English upper middle class society" ( Sherlock's Sisters 79). This contrasts with the engagement between Lebrun and Mdlle. Cunier, for while their marriage was also informed by the benefits it
36 would bring to two parties, it is framed as wholly beneficial, rather than as a punishment for either In explaining Mdlle. Cunier's disappearance, Brooke reveals both the plot created by Princess Dullah Veih and her companions in order to prevent Lucie from attracting the attention of the princess's fiance, and the basis for the marriage between the s ecretary and the butler. Despite Major Druce's beliefs that Cassimi was responsible for Mdlle. Cunier's disappearance, Brooke informs him that, "Your evident admiration for her disturbed the equanimity of the Princess, who saw your devotion to herself wan ing; of Lebrun, who fancied Lucie's manner to him had changed; of your mother, who was anxious that you should make a suitable ma rriage," and that in reality, Druce himself was responsible for the disappearance of the young woman (Pirkis 176). Though Brook e reveals that there was never a crime committed in this case, the plot that the unlikely allies proposed does suggest elements of criminality. Despite the fact that Mdlle. Cunier was already betrothed to Lebrun, the princess offers her money and the means to establish the couple in Paris in order to remove them from the household. This comes as welcome motivation, and the couple is content with the situation, but the fact that the princess, who is of Middle Eastern descent, resorts to bribery as a means of securing her future suggests a certain gendered and racialized tendency towards criminality. Her actions do not cause any real damage, but it is clearly suggested that bribery is not wholly acceptable within polite society, especially considering the way Brooke describes the decision to offer Lucie the thousand pounds and position as a milliner: "It was the Princess who solved the question how this was to be done. Fair Rosamonds are no longer put out of the way by a cup of cold poison' golden guineas do the thing far more
37 easily and innocently" (176 177). That bribery is the alternative to poison in such affairs simultaneously removes and reinforces the criminality of the princess's actions, forcing the reader to question her morality due to both her gen der and her nationality. Despite the contrasts between the Princess and Mdlle. Cunier, there is an interesting mirroring that occurs in the relationships that they both partake in. Neither of these young women are English, yet they are both attempting to make lives for themselves there by whatever means necessary, though their successes are vastly different. Similarly, they both enter into relationships that are largely of convenience, though there does seem to be a greater level of compatibility between M dlle. Cunier and Lebrun than between the Princess and the Major. Pirkis frames the relationship between the Princess and the Major as one riddled with conflict and jealousy, based on initial attraction and a desire for social security. Describing the relat ionship between Mdlle. Cunier and Pierre Lebrun, however, Brooke places their marriage in a positive light, for "there is nothing surprising in this engagement; they were both lonely and in a foreign land, spoke the same language, and no doubt had many thi ngs in common; and although chance has lifted Lucie somewhat out of her station, she really belongs to the same class in life as Lebrun" (175). Though they benefit from the bribe offered by the Princess, their relationship was based on a mutual desire for companionship, rather than financial or social advancement, like the Princess and the Major. In creating this pair of relationships, Pirkis illustrates classed differences concerning marriage, as well as a general distinction between what these two groups view as important. While the upper class is focused on maintaining a good name and financial situation, those who work for them appear to be more concerned with comfort and compatibility. It is the latter that Pirkis frames as
38 preferable with the outcome of this tale; the female detective is able to read the story of companionable and appropriate marriage through a surface of apparent criminality and violence. "Drawn Daggers" The classed nature of marriage is also central to the plot of "Drawn Daggers," though in this story it acts as a means of unsettling the domestic sphere rather than as a means of securing it. Just as in the previous story, a missing woman plays a central role in the plot, though her disappearance does not become clear until Brooke i s hired to investigate two cases within the same household. The threats received by Rev. Anthony Hawke and the missing necklace belonging to the young woman staying with him, Miss Monroe, are believed to be unrelated until Brooke is brought into the case. After her investigation of the Hawke residence, the lady detective reveals that Miss Monroe is not who she appears to be, and it is discovered that the apparent threats and lost jewelry were simply smaller pieces of a larger deception. As before, it is Bro oke's understanding of the domestic sphere that allows her to connect the details of the Hawke residence and determine the true nature of these crimes, drawing, as Kestner describes, "a conclusion different from those of men, who mis read and mis interpret the evidence" ( Sherlock's Sisters 80). It is not only her gender, however, that allows her to succeed on this case. Brooke's understanding of classed behavior and the way a household is maintained gives her a specific insight into the behaviors of the peo ple she is observing; her access to resources such as the British Museum gives her a completely different kind of specialized knowledge. The way that Brooke is able to straddle these dissimilar realms of
39 information illustrates the fact that the lady detec tives within these stories take on roles that men would not be able to fulfill. Rev. Hawke invites Brooke into his home in order to investigate the threats that he had begun receiving after the loss of Miss Monroe's necklace, based on the belief that suc h threats might be an attempt to prevent an investigation. These supposed threats came as a series of letters containing pictures of a dagger drawn by hand, which, upon closer study, are revealed to have been drawn by different people. It was these letters that forced Rev. Hawke to seek outside help. Brooke's introduction into the Hawke residence, however, leads to some discomfort for the Reverend, since his wife does not approve of such an investigation. In describing the state of affairs surrounding the t wo crimes that had taken place, he frames himself as the head of household, despite the power his wife holds over him. He asserts defensively, "I do not mean to imply that I am not master in my own house," when explaining that he had come to Mr. Dyer only after his wife was conveniently called away from home (Pirkis 194). This struggle for masculine domestic dominance is key to this story, for Miss Monroe is first placed under the guardianship of Rev. Hawke by her father in order to remove her from the path of Mr. Danvers, a man Sir George Monroe viewed as an unsuitable match for his daughter. By presenting Sir George and Rev. Hawke as men who are struggling to maintain their masculine control over their wives and daughters, Pirkis is pointing to the complic ations of domestic gender dynamics, and the failure of Victorian ideals within the private sphere. In this story, Brooke chooses to hide her true identity during her investigation, posing as "a lady house decorator in the employment of a West end firm, sent by them to survey your house and advise upon its re decoration," a position which gives her the
40 freedom to move throughout the house unquestioned (201). It is her inspection of Miss Monroe's room, and a conversation with the maid that had been servin g her, that reveals to Brooke the true crime that has been committed. In speaking to the maid about the tidiness and practicality of the room, Brooke comments that Miss Monroe must have an exquisite maid, a fact that her companion denied, stating that whil e she is the one who serves the young woman, "she scarcely requires a maid. I never before in my life had dealings with such a young lady She not only won't be helped in dressing, but she arranges her room every day before leaving it, even to placing the chair in front of the looking glass" (208). This self sufficient behavior strikes Brooke as odd for a woman who was raised with servants, and leads to her suspicion that Miss Monroe is not who she claims to be. After uncovering this lead, Brooke abandons her investigation of the house to question Rev. Hawke about the alleged Miss Monroe's behavior, whereupon she discovers that the young woman has refused visitors and completely avoided written communication as well. Before leaving, Brooke tells the Reveren d that should another letter containing the drawn daggers arrive the following day, he must show it to his family over breakfast, and then meet her at her rooms at noon, so that she might explain the scenario to him more fully. It is later revealed that Brooke leaves the Hawke residence so that she might do further research on the daggers the Reverend had received, and attempt to determine the true identity of Miss Monroe two goals which she fully achieves before her meeting at twelve the next day. Whe n Rev. Hawke comes to her rooms in Gower Street, Brooke is able to explain every detail of this case to him, including the strange events of the morning, when, after receiving a letter containing three drawn daggers, Miss Monroe left
41 the house without expl anation and disappeared. Brooke connects this departure to Miss Munroe's strange, withdrawn behavior, the missing necklace, and the letters with ease once she is able to confirm that the young woman residing with the Reverend and his family is not Miss Mon roe, but rather Miss Mary O'Grady, "the person engaged by Miss Monroe to fulfill the duties of her maid on board ship" during the young lady's journey from Pekin to England (214). This not only explains the alleged Miss Monroe's unwillingness to meet with visitors known to her father, and her refusal to answer or send any written correspondence, but also accounts for the state of her room. Brooke is also able to uncover the story behind the daggers, which are not actually daggers at all. Rather, they are dr awings of the Danvers family crest, and the series of letters containing one, then two, and finally three "daggers" served as a code between Miss O'Grady and Miss Monroe, who had hired the maid to take her place so that she might elope with Mr. Danvers in Cork. The final piece of the case, the missing necklace, is revealed to have been the source of the money for the elopement; Mr. Danvers left it with diamond merchants in Hong Kong. Miss O'Grady's false identity, Miss Monroe's rejection of patriarchal co ntrol, and the tensions between Rev. Hawke and his wife clearly illustrate the range of conflict that can be found within the domestic sphere. Kestner makes the claim that this story, reveals the true state of marriage in middle class homes: the renegade daughter marries her love against her father's wishes, and the clergyman is scarcely master in his own house. Each instance demonstrates the newly independent status of the married woman in the last decade of the nineteenth century, resulting from legal pr otections such as the various
42 Married Women's Property Acts, which induce a novel freedom of inclination. ( Sherlock's Sisters 80) In making this claim, Kestner furthers the idea that the distinction between the public and private spheres was being broken d own, and that the domestic sphere was no longer the feminized safe haven that it once was. This case also illustrates tensions concerning class distinctions, as Kungl writes, "Loveday solves the crime because, as a middle class female detective, she notice s when certain domestic signifiers of upper and middle class respectability are missing. So clearly delineated are the distinction between classes that a case of switched identities can be cleared up based on these details alone" (62). That these distinc tions went unnoticed by those living in the Hawke residence suggests the imbalance of not only the gendered power within the Victorian household, but also of class. "Missing!" An unbalanced household is once again the central focus of the final Loveday Brooke story, "Missing!," which is described by Kestner as, "a story of an unpleasant marriage and its consequences" ( Sherlock's Sisters 82). Nationality, gender, and class play major roles in the mystery of this story, and the intersections of these char acteristics illustrate the complexity of the ideal Victorian family. Unlike in "A Princess's Vengeance" and "Drawn Daggers," where marriage acted as a disruption of the idealized family, Pirkis uses the Goldings to illustrate the restoration of order withi n the domestic sphere, despite the myriad problems that exist there. As the title suggests, Brooke is brought into the Goldings' home in order to investigate the disappearance of Miss Iren
43 Golding, Richard Golding's only daughter. In investigating what ha d been believed to be nothing more than the disappearance of a wealthy young lady, Brooke uncovers a dark family history, fraught with deceit and infidelity, yet this story ends happily, with the family unit reformed and marriage on the horizon for the you nger generation. This comes as a contrast to the other two Brooke stories because it reconciles the problems brought about by an imprudent match, while the results of the marriages between Miss Monroe and Mr. Danvers, and Major Druce and the Princess, are left to the imagination. Despite this major difference, however, "Missing!" shares many of the same characteristics of the other two stories, and uncovers the same domestic conflicts found in the earlier cases. Brooke's investigation of Miss Golding's di sappearance begins ten days after she is first lost, and she is only brought on to the case because the police had failed to find the missing woman. Though everybody tied to the Goldings had been placed under suspicion, from the two men who had been pursui ng her romantically, to the housekeeper, Mrs. Greenhow, who was set to marry her father, the authorities had been unable to determine the cause of her disappearance. Upon arriving at Langford Hall, Brooke makes her own judgments on its inhabitants, recogni zing Mr. Golding's extreme distress over his daughter's disappearance, Mrs. Greenhow's frustration with the girl, and the hidden knowledge held by Maddalena, Miss Golding's Italian maid. Realizing that Maddalena knows more than she is willing to say, Brook e employs her services not only as a maid, but as an assistant, offering her fifty pounds, "if you will procure for me certain information that I require in the prosecution of my work here" (Pirkis 296). Brooke's realization that she will be able to gain t he most information from the missing girl's maid again illustrates her understanding of the social dynamics of such a
44 household. In speaking to Maddalena, Brooke learns a great deal about Miss Golding, and about her Italian mother, who died in Italy when t he child was in Australia with her father. She also proves to be an invaluable resource for information about Miss Golding's suitors, having acted not only as a confidante to the young woman, but also being able to access households surrounding Langford Ha ll. I n the end, Maddalena proves to be the key to the mystery Brooke is trying to unravel. The same day that Brooke arrives at Langford Hall, it would appear that the case comes to a close, with no help from the lady detective. After dinner, Brooke is at tending to some letters in the library, when Dryad, Miss Golding's dog, is discovered covered in mud, with a scrap of dark blue fabric in his mouth. A party is formed to search the grounds, and a body, which bears a striking resemblance to Miss Golding, is discovered in the stream that runs through the grounds. Though it is assumed that it must be the missing young woman, Brooke is not wholly convinced, largely as a result of Maddalena's response to the discovery of the body. Brooke remains at Langford wit h hopes to still discover the meaning of Miss Golding's disappearance and supposed drowning, and in doing so is able to observe the ways that the members of the household react to the tragic event. Mr. Golding succumbs to brain fever as a result of his gri ef, Mrs. Greenhow desires Brooke's speedy departure, and Maddalena once again piques Brooke's curiosity when she is overheard making, "the extraordinary exclamation that a woman should break her heart for her lover, not for her mother" (320). This statemen t, combined with the fact that Maddalena had mentioned an incredible resemblance between the girl and her mother, and that Mr. Golding had said that his daughter seemed
45 to have been, "aged by a dozen years," led Brooke to look beyond the simple e xplanation that Miss Golding had drowned in the stream (320). With the help of Maddalena and Lord Guilleroy, one of Miss Golding's suitors, Brooke is able to track the missing young woman to Italy, and the home of her maternal grandfather, Count Mascgani. It is re vealed that Mrs. Golding, who was believed to be dead, had in fact been alive for the past eighteen years, having faked her death to escape "the dull routine of English domestic life," and choosing instead to join a company of actors and lead a life of adu ltery and coquetry before returning to her father's estate wholly disgraced (323). The Count took her in, but vowed that she would see nobody, and it was at this point that she sought contact with Maddalena, begging to see her child, "before the shadow of death closed in around her" (325). The maid, who was fully in Miss Golding's confidence, told the young woman of her mother's existence, and in a fit of desire to punish her father and rescue her mother, the young woman set off for Italy. Once reunited, t he two women came up with a plan for Mrs. Golding to beg her husband's forgiveness, and, dressed in her daughter's clothing, she made the journey to England. Upon her arrival, she was denied the chance to speak with her estranged husband, as Brooke suggest s that after catching, "a glance [of] the refinement of the home, together with the rigid conventionality of English domestic life," she was overcome with grief for her lost opportunities, and in an attempt to get away, drowned in the stream (328). It was Mrs. Golding's resemblance to her daughter that led to the belief that it was Miss Golding who had died, and the young woman's return at the end of the story resolves the vast majority of the problems that her disappearance uncovered. Despite the
46 conflict that Miss Golding's flight created, her return acts as a means of restoring balance to the Golding household. The failed wife and mother receives the appropriate punishment for her inappropriate behavior, the father is prevented from another imprudent mar riage to the unsympathetic and lower class Mrs. Greenhow, and Miss Golding is engaged to the young man who crossed an entire continent to rescue her from a tyrannical grandfather. By framing the story in this way, Pirkis places value on the idealized Victo rian family in a way that is not seen in the previous stories. Though the story criticizes the conflicts that can be created within the domestic sphere when expectations are not adhered to, and clearly illustrates that domesticity can be problematic, the r eunion of Mr. Golding with his daughter and her subsequent engagement to Lord Guilleroy reproduces the Victorian ideal that had been corrupted by the previous generation. Foreign Invasions These three Loveday Brooke stories share a number of important a spects, but one of the most striking is the relationship between the disruption of the private sphere and the presence of a foreign influence. "A Princess's Vengeance," "Drawn Daggers," and "Missing!" all feature women who are not English, and it is their influence within the domestic world that brings the disruption of the peace that is associated with this feminine space to the forefront. In Victorian literature, the feminized domestic sphere is held up as the center of English life though men hold the majority of the power, the home represents family and security, which is key to the preservation of society. In writing these stories, Pirkis not only points out the problems that exist within this
47 idealized sphere for example, the gendered power struggl es that occur within marriage but also highlights tension relating to foreign influence within the British Empire. Brooke, as a lady detective, embodies some of these tensions just as she investigates them, for while her gender suggests that she is meant to be part of the domestic sphere, her profession makes her an outsider in these spaces. The foreign women in these stories come as a contrast to the British ideal of the angel in the house, just as the criminal women in the stories about Sherlock Holme s do. Their crimes, however, are in many ways the opposite. While the female criminality in the Holmes stories comes about because of a desire to reject the feminized private sphere and enter the masculine public sphere, the criminality of the non English women found in the Brooke stories is rooted in their attempts and often failures to become the domestic, British ideal. Their status as outsiders is nearly impossible to change because they are not fully English, a requirement that appears to be cente red not only on birth but also on education. Miss Monroe and Miss Golding are perfect examples of the way that education shapes Englishness in the domestic sphere, as their backgrounds and outcomes illustrate that birth does not wholly determine one's beha vior. Miss Monroe lived in China, was educated "by a succession of French and American governesses," and because her mother died when she was very young, never had the influence of a proper Englishwoman (198). Her elopement with Mr. Danvers, which was in s ome ways a flawed attempt to adapt to the domestic ideal of womanhood, is not surprising because she was never provided with a proper model. In contrast, Miss Golding, who is of Australian and Italian descent, was raised in England in a household that embr aced the
48 Victorian domestic ideal, and therefore could have a happy ending which reproduced those ideals, despite the conflict that surrounded her origins. Princess Dullah Veih, Lucie Cunier, and Mrs. Golding, because of their foreign birth and lack of E nglish education, are incapable of achieving the same outcome as Miss Golding. Pirkis frames these women as being incompatible with English domesticity, despite their efforts to become part of it. Mdlle. Cunier, despite the fact that she plays an important role in Mrs. Druce's charity efforts, is forced to leave the country after marrying Lebrun because she was viewed as a distraction for Major Druce. His fiance, Princess Dullah Veih, is also unable to properly incorporate herself into the domestic sphere because of her Turkish heritage, even though she was, "brought up under European influence in Cairo" (148). She is only allowed to remain in the domestic sphere because of the way that she will benefit the Druces financially. Mrs. Golding has the most comp licated relationship with English domesticity, for while she completely rejected the life her husband offered, she is shown to have felt intense regret at recognizing her lost opportunity. In fact, Brooke suspects that it was this regret that lead to her d eath, after seeing another woman taking her place within her husband's home. The conflict between a desire to be part of the British ideal and a desire to reject it on principle is complicated, and in exploring this tension, Pirkis highlights other cultura l anxieties, such as those that surround Brooke's position as a lady detective. These women mirror the foreign influences found in "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Second Stain," though on a more contained scale. Irene Adler, the King of Bohemia, and Edua rdo Lucas all illustrate the anxiety of the British Empire when faced with foreign influence, which was particularly strong during this period of widespread
49 domination. Irene Adler, like her counterparts in the Brooke stories, is incapable of existing with in the British domestic sphere, not only because her position as an American opera singer holds connotations of sexual knowledge, but also because of the power she holds over the men she comes in contact with. As a stark contrast, Watson frames the King as a somewhat ridiculous character, pointing to his behavior and clothing to illustrate his inability to embody English masculinity. Finally, Eduardo Lucas is a threat to the empire itself, as he leads a double life and attempts to gain state secrets. These characters, and those of foreign background in the Brooke stories, are a threat to both the domestic sphere and the Empire as a whole because their behaviors and background are incompatible with the idealized conception of what it means to be British. Li ke the foreign characters in these stories, Brooke does not wholly belong in the private spaces that she investigates. Pirkis writes about Brooke in a way that frames her as a professional lady detective and nothing more. She is not shown at home, she neve r speaks of personal relationships, she is only described in detail in the first story, and even then, it is in a series of negations rather than in a way that provides any real distinguishing details. Though Brooke's gender is important in that it provide s her access to spaces and knowledge that are not available to men, she is not represented as a typical Victorian woman, and is therefore just as much of an outsider as women of Swiss, Italian, and Turkish descent. Because she is an invasive force in the h ouseholds she investigates, Brooke must carefully follow social guidelines in order to maintain the illusion that she belongs there. In contrast, a failure to follow these guidelines leads to the criminality of Princess Dullah Veih, Miss Monroe, and Mrs. G olding, and the disruptions they cause help to highlight the other problems that exist within the domestic sphere. By presenting
50 these spaces in this way, Pirkis illustrates that the home is not the idyllic world Victorians hoped it was, and that the probl ems that exist there come about from internal forces as well as external influence.
51 Chapter Three: The Angel in the House George Robert Sims published two volumes of stories about the detective Dorcas Dene, the first of which appeared in 1897, four year s after Sherlock Holmes' supposed death in "The Final Problem," and three years after the first Loveday Brooke story was published in the Ludgate Monthly. Though Dene's position as a detective is founded in the tradition of both Holmes and Brooke, her soci etal role differs from theirs. Unlike Holmes, who rejects all things feminine as incompatible with his version of reason and deduction, and Brooke, who is distanced from domesticity to lend legitimacy to her career, Dene is solidly grounded in the domestic sphere while simultaneously fulfilling her role as a "famous lady detective" (G. Sims 1: 2). The stories explain that Dorcas Dene (ne Lester) was employed as an actress before her marriage, and came into detective work after her husband, an artist, lost his sight and thus his means of supporting himself. Though investigation clearly suits her, Dene began her career as a lady detective solely as a means of supporting her family, and when she first began, it is made clear that she would have quit if it mad e her husband unhappy. Fortunately, Paul Dene fully supports his wife's career and often helps her with her cases. The overlap that occurs between the public and private sphere for the Denes is interesting, because it makes Dene a public figure who is wide ly respected without having her sacrifice her ties to the domestic sphere. This perhaps makes her career more acceptable than that of Brooke, who completely rejects domesticity for her profession. These overlaps, however, also complicate the clear distinct ions of these two spheres that had been presumed in the stories about Holmes and Brooke.
52 Much of the criminality explored in the cases investigated by Holmes and Brooke stems from the disruption of social boundaries, with criminal women trespassing into social spheres where they do not belong. The cases investigated by Dene, however, complicate these boundaries, for the crimes she solves involving criminal women often require public interference in wholly private matters in order for justice to be served, even if the crime had occurred completely within the domestic sphere. The cases Dene investigates in "The Council of Four," "The Co Respondent," and "Presented to the Queen," all relate to fraud, and the conflicts that come about straddle the divide betwe en the public and private spheres. These stories involve issues of inheritance, divorce, and blackmail, and these topics are framed as almost inherently domestic, yet it is the damage they may cause in the public sphere that forces them into the spotlight. The women who commit crimes in these three stories come from vastly different backgrounds, and become involved in the various schemes almost wholly for personal, material gain. Lady Helsham, Mrs. Garrod, and the unnamed lady's maid are all placed in posi tions where criminal behavior appears to be the easiest way to gain security. Thus, Sims's plotlines are just as much a commentary on femininity as Dene's dual role of angel in the house and famous lady detective. Though criminal behavior clearly resists t he Victorian ideals of feminine behavior, that these women commit crimes in order to gain some kind of security does speak to idealized femininity Because of social constraints, women were limited in the ways that they could find independence or safety, a nd for those who did not or could not rely on husbands, crimes that would provide them with money or power could be efficient, though risky, means of securing one s position. The focus on maintaining femininity is complicated in the context of the stories about
53 both Holmes and Brooke, wherein nearly all of the women being written about reject such roles, through either professional or criminal behavior. The women in the Dene stories, however, adhere quite closely to Victorian ideals of femininity, even when breaking the law. Of the women in these stories, however, it is Dene's femininity that is the most deliberately insisted upon. The narrator of these stories, Mr. Saxon, makes regular note of the detective's womanly nature through references to her physi cal appearance, her domestic life, or simply her behavior. These claims to proper womanhood, however, are at odds with Dene's repeated use of disguise and movement within the public sphere. Further, her social station also runs counter to Victorian proprie ty, for as Klein explains, "her social status as an artist's daughter and an actress effectively removed Dorcas Lester from respectable middle class society" (62). Despite this status, however, "she remains determined to demonstrate all the attributes of a lady," and it is important to consider why these attributes are necessary, especially when compared to Brooke, who was a perfectly successful detective despite her lack of conventional femininity (63). The narrator, Mr. Saxon, projects much of Dene's fe mininity upon her through his narration in an attempt to temper the unfeminine behaviors she enacts as part of her career. Because he rarely accompanies Dene as she investigates, many of Saxon's descriptions of the detective place her in proper domestic sp aces as she recounts her adventures to him, rather than showing her in the act. By centering her in domestic spaces, Sims distances Dene from her public persona, and in using a male narrator to tell her story, maintains masculine control over her actions. Though Dene does not work for a detective agency, and therefore lacks a male employer, Mr. Saxon, in telling Dene's
54 story, and Paul Dene, as her husband, hold power over the lady detective. While they might not blatantly restrict her actions, their positio ns help to maintain the gendered hierarchy within these stories. Despite the importance of female criminals within "The Council of Four," "The Co Respondent," and "Presented to the Queen," the gendered hierarchy of power plays an important role in the cr imes that are committed in these stories, as well as in the personal life of the lady detective. While the women who behave criminally in these stories have agency and power, men are often involved in their crimes at various levels at times they are the masterminds, but in others, they are simply participants. This comes as a contrast to the Holmes and Brooke stories, wherein female criminals largely act alone. By introducing direct male influence into some of these stories of female criminality, Sims fur ther explores idealized gender and class dynamics. The strongest example of this comes about in "The Co Respondent," wherein a lady's maid is paid to plant evidence. Both her gender and her social status influence her involvement in this crime, and frame h er criminality in a way that contrasts with the female criminals investigated by Holmes and Brooke; her position removes much of her agency, and thus her ability to choose whether or not she participates in criminal activities. In "The Council of Four," ho wever, Dene investigates a crime committed by Lady Helsham, a woman of high birth who acts independently, much as those seen in the earlier stories of female criminality. The range of female criminals shown in Sims's stories illustrate the different motiva tions and pressures felt by these women based on social status and lifestyle, and in doing so, contrasts their motivations with those of Dorcas Dene, the famous detective who places her family above her career.
55 "The Council of Four" The first series of Dorcas Dene, Detective opens with "The Council of Four," a story exploring the first case the lady detective solves with the assistance of Mr. Saxon. This case involves the disappearance of a wealthy young gentleman, a clandestine love affair that crosses class boundaries, and a secret plot to maintain a family's title and position. Dene is hired to investigate only the first part of this mystery, having been contacted by Lady Helsham's solicitor concerning the disappearance of her son, Lord Helsham. Due to the fact that Lord Helsham has recently come of age to inherit the family title, his mother, "is convinced that it is a case of cherchez la femme and she is desperately afraid that her son, perhaps in the toils of some unprincipled wo man, may be induced to contract a disastrous msalliance (G. Sims 1: 2). Dene was specifically requested for the investigation, not only because of her reputation, but also because Lady Helsham does not want the police involved, despite the fact that rumo rs have already been spread through the society papers. It is after receiving this assignment that Dene is reunited with Mr. Saxon, who had known her during her time as an actress. Delighted to rekindle their acquaintance, Dene invites Mr. Saxon to meet he r husband, and it is during this visit that the narrator is able to frame Dorcas Dene as the devoted and feminine angel in the house, a role that contrasts explicitly with the t raditional characteristics of detective s no matter their gender. Despite the se descriptions, however, Dene's behavior often undermines the idealized image Mr. Saxon creates of her. It is during this visit that the lady detective reveals her ability to hide her identity through the use of disguises very similar to those
56 used by Hol mes when he investigates. Unlike Brooke, who hid in plain sight within the homes of those she was investigating, Dene often moves through the public sphere in elaborate costumes so that she will not be recognized or noticed. In this case, she dresses as a gipsy so that she may infiltrate a play with the assistance of Mr. Saxon. She enters in this costume without prior warning, much to the surprise of the narrator, who describes her entrance as an intrusion into the cozy domestic scene he had previously pain ted: At the moment the door opened, and I started up in astonishment. A dark skinned old gipsy woman, such as one meets on the racecourses, had come into the room. I gave a nervous look at the bulldog, expecting him to spring at the intruder. But he only opened his eyes and wagged his tail, and then the truth suddenly flashed upon me. It was Dorcas Dene. (1: 10) Similar scenarios are found throughout the Dene stories, and Mr. Saxon is consistently surprised when he discovers the lady detective in disguis e. The use of elaborate disguises in this manner contradicts gender ideals that frame women as open and honest, but Dene's position as a detective allows her to behave in this manner without censure. Dene's mission at the theatre is successful, and leads to the discovery that Lord Helsham was not only carrying on a romance with an actress, Nella Dalroy, but that she had received a letter from him that evening, declaring that they must never meet again, which Dene interprets as an indication of his plans t o commit suicide. She leaves the theatre in order to meet with Lady Helsham, sending Mr. Saxon to wait at her home. The details of her investigation are presented upon her return, when she is safely enclosed in
57 the domestic sphere, comfortably "leaning bac k in the arm chair and stating her case,' in order that she might have the opinion of her husband and mother upon it" (1: 13). Her meeting with Lady Helsham was fruitful in that it revealed that the woman seemed almost relieved at the news that her son mi ght have committed suicide, and that "she can only feel relief for two reasons either that his death would prevent his arrest for some crime, or would prevent the discovery of something which would bring terrible consequences to him" (1: 14) However, it is her husband's quiet comment that Lord Helsham's death would potentially protect a secret held by Lady Helsham that provides Dene with the final connection she needed to solve the mystery of his disappearance. Sims's decision to place these descriptions of investigation within the domestic sphere, and to emphasize her husband's role in solving this case, in combination with Mr. Saxon's descriptions of the detective's femininity, removes the potential for Dene to be considered a threat to privacy and socia l order. As suggested by the detective's husband, Lady Helsham was to blame for her son's flight, and it is confirmed by her sister that Lord Helsham is not who he appears to be. The two women had given birth within twenty four hours of each other, one t o a boy and the other a girl. Because Lady Helsham wanted to maintain her position and title, and would be unable to do so if it was known that she had a daughter, the children were switched so that she had a son who could inherit. She maintained her affec tion towards her daughter, though, and desired that the two children marry so that the young woman would benefit from the inheritance gained by her sister's son. This plan was disrupted, however, by the affair between Lord Helsham and Nella Dalroy, and, "i n her rage at her supposed son's refusal to marry her real daughter [Lady Helsham] involuntarily
58 revealed her secret, threatening the young fellow with the loss of everything if he refused" (1: 21). Horrified by the truth, Lord Helsham felt that his deat h would be the only solution, as it "would allow the title and estates to pass to the rightful owner without the fraud being discovered and the guilty parties punished," and based on all outside appearances, it would seem that this is what occurred, as his death was described in the newspapers, and the title passed on to the Hon. John Farman (1: 21). In the closing pages of the story, however, Dene reveals the way that she was able to arrange a fake death for the young man so that he can move to America wit h the woman he loves. The fact that Dene arranges for this man to fake his death and disappear, and in doing so covers up Lady Helsham's criminal behavior, is one of many ways that Dene subverts the idealized femininity that is projected upon her by Mr. Saxon. Though she is described as intensely feminine and is centered in the domestic sphere with her husband and mother, her behavior in this story aligns her closely with Lady Helsha m, and Kestner claims that the attempts at making Dorcas Dene a conventi onal middle middle class woman are belied in her complicity in concealment. Under the guise of being the Angel of the House, Dorcas Dene in reality is the opposite: she engages in an impersonation which suggests her affinity with Lady Helsham's deceptive strategy to retain her title and income ( Sherlock's Sisters 99) Both women construct elaborate lies in order to uphold the appearance of social normalcy, and in the end, Lady Helsham's criminality goes largely unpunished due to Dene's interference. The l ady detective's behavior at the end of this story creates an
59 interesting dichotomy between the justice served by the law, which leads to public scandal, and justice that is controlled by individuals and thus remains private. The solution to the Helsham mys tery illustrates the important role that class plays in such a plot, because appearances are shown to rank above true justice in this scenario. Lady Helsham is punished through the loss of her title and the majority of her income, but she still walks free, because the untimely death of a son brings about less disgrace than the revelation that his legacy was false and his mother a criminal. That Dene supports this solution rather than involving the official authorities shows that, like her predecessor Sherlo ck Holmes, she believes that there are different ways that crime can be dealt with, and that the involvement of the police is not always for the best. "The Co Respondent" Class plays a huge role in "The Co Respondent" as well, as does the complicated n otion of crime as something that is regulated in the public sphere but occurs in the private sphere. Dene becomes involved in the mystery after a woman, who remains unnamed throughout the story, approaches the lady detective to prove her innocence in a cas e of adultery and divorce. Her husband had petitioned for divorce after a period of separation, and though she had initially been "received in society as an injured lady," evidence was eventually produced in the form of a love letter, which was confirmed b y the co respondent, Count von Phalsdorf, as proof of their affair (G. Sims 2: 43). The lady in question, despite her denials, was disgraced, and came to Dene out of desperation. The detective initially refuses, explaining to Mr. Saxon that, "I never took up divorce cases I didn't think they were a woman's work, and I objected altogether to the methods
60 employed by the detectives and private enquiry agents who were usually associated with the business;" however, observing the woman's behavior, she found, not the slightest doubt as to the genuineness of her emotion" and reversed her previous decision (2: 47 48; 2: 48). In doing so, Dene accepted a case wherein there was physical evidence, numerous witnesses, and a co respondent who admits to the crime he is accused of a case that is seemingly impossible to reverse, despite the faith she has in her client. Rather than being discouraged, however, Dene uses this faith to carefully unravel the pieces that have been placed in her way, discovering inconsistencie s and mistakes made by the opposing side. Dene's role in this case is reminiscent of those involving Loveday Brooke, wherein her special knowledge as a woman gave her the ability to recognize the evidence that was being overlooked by the official authori ties. Dene tells Mr. Saxon that her main motivation in taking the wife's case was that, "the idea of her innocent children suffering all their lives from the branding of their mother as an adulteress strongly appealed to my woman's heart," but it would see m that it appealed to her detective's mind as well (2: 48). Because the evidence stands so strongly against her client, Dene is forced to pay special attention during her investigation, questioning small details that would otherwise be ignored. Beyond the letter and testimonies that were presented in court, Dene must also contend with the discovery of a photograph of the Count by her client's daughter after she has accepted the case. Though Mr. Saxon clearly believes that the detective is wasting her time, she maintains her faith in her client's innocence, choosing to view this discovery as a means of proving her lack of involvement, rather than one which confirms it, claiming that "this may be the very clue I want to make the mystery clear and save my clien t" (2: 53). The conflicting opinions between the detective and her companion are
61 complicated by the fact that Mr. Saxon is narrating the story. While it is clear that he believes in her abilities, it is also obvious that he believes her gender may possibly have obscured her judgment, and in the time wh en they are apart desires to do "a little amateur Sherlock Holmes business on my own account" (2: 54). He fails in this quest, however, and finds Dene already working undercover as a flower woman, a disguise t hat once again capitalizes on her gender's ability to cross class lines and hide in plain sight. Dene was employing this disguise in order to come in close physical contact with the Count without suspicion. Though Mr. Saxon had been able to learn a small amount of information about the man from mutual acquaintances, in their time apart Dene had been considerably more successful in her endeavors. She had found a witness who could identify the Count from a scar under his chin as a man who had been hired by a "firm of inquiry agents people who got up evidence in divorce cases [and] wanted young good looking men of gentlemanly manners and appearance" in order to place women in compromising positions for monetary gain (2: 64). This identification confirms Den e's belief that the Count had been hired by her client's husband in order to create the illusion of infidelity, though he denies his involvement, claiming, "that he had accepted the evidence tendered as genuine, and that all he had done was to promise a la rge sum to the firm in the event of their services obtaining him a divorce" (2: 66). Even if these denials were true, it is clear that this plot was conceived and put into motion by men; however, aspects of female criminality are certainly present, far bey ond those relating to the supposed infidelity of Dene's client. For the firm's plan to succeed, the help of someone entrenched in the private sphere was crucial, in order to plant evidence and arrange
62 supposed meetings between the Count and his "lover." Be cause of her position in the household, the lady's maid is the perfect person for such a deception. The criminality of servants is a complicated matter, largely due to the position that they hold within the Victorian home. Though they were a key part of the household, and expected to be dedicated and trustworthy, a great deal of anxiety existed surrounding domestic staff due to their mobility and access to private information. Discussing the anxiety relating to servants in Victorian literature, Trodd clai ms that the, "association of servants with crime later became extremely conventionalised in the late Victorian detective fiction, but it was in the mid Victorian perception of servant crisis that this conventional association was established, and assumed particular stereotyped forms" (46). Just as detectives are invaders of the domestic sphere, servants are technically outsiders, due to their lack of familial obligation to their employers. Within stories that explore these anxieties, "the householder's ou traged sense of routine invasion of privacy by his domestic staff expressed itself in the production of crime plots in which servants routinely play highly visible and sinister roles" (46). The lady's maid serving Dene's client, however, complicates this stereotyped role because her criminality was not wholly opportunistic. In order for the Count's plan to succeed, he needed someone within the household to plant evidence, and the maid's proximity to her employer made her an ideal candidate. While it is p ossible that she decided to betray her employer's trust out of genuine dislike for her mistress, it is necessary to consider the position she was placed in when she became involved in the plot. Refusing to participate would likely place the maid's employme nt in jeopardy since her salary would be controlled by the husband, therefore
63 forcing her to plant evidence and arrange for the Count's visits in order to maintain her employment, regardless of her loyalties. In the end she is arrested, while both the Coun t and the scheming husband are able to escape the grasp of the law. "The Co Respondent" acts as a clear illustration of the power that men hold over women, not only in criminal matters, but in Victorian society as a whole. First, Mr. Saxon doubts Dene's abilities during this case because she maintains her faith in her client despite the evidence against her. Secondly, the lady's maid is placed in a position where her refusal to act criminally would put her career at risk, and finally Dene's client exempli fies the fragility of a woman's reputation and the special vulnerability of elite women. Though the stories about lady detectives largely glorify the abilities of women, it is crucial to illustrate the ways in which societal ideals and expectations often t hwart their actions. Dene and her client are successful in the end, but the scandal that came about because of the alleged affair will likely have lasting effects, not only for the client, but also for her children, who would suffer from the stigma of divo rced parents. Similarly, the lady's maid who planted evidence was arrested for perjury, and "sentenced to a long term of imprisonment," and after her release would be unlikely to find employment, despite the fact that her involvement was driven by self pre servation (Sims 2: 66). The Count and the husband, however, do not face any punishment for their behavior, despite the fact that they were responsible for the scheme Dene unraveled. This outcome illustrates the problematic role lady detectives fill, in tha t they help to restore the status quo in a way that simultaneously elevates and damages the position of women in Victorian society.
64 "Presented to the Queen" As in the previous two stories, social mobility is central to the plot of "Presented to the Queen." Though fraud was used in "The Council of Four" to secure Lady Helsham's position, it is used here in an attempt to undermine the rise in social status of La dy Broome, a former governess by the name of Margaret Grey who married far above her station, and, as the title of the story suggests, would soon be presented to Queen Victoria. Her husband, Sir Joshua, approached Mr. Saxon with hopes of enlisting the assi stance of his friend, Dorcas Dene, after receiving a startling letter demanding a thousand pounds in exchange for silence concerning his wife's behavior before they married. The unknown correspondent, referring to herself as "One Who Knows," threatens to r eveal dark secrets of Lady Broome's past, claiming, "The Queen does not have people of her sort presented at Court. Lady B., before you married her, had been in prison, and I can prove it" (2: 96). As in the Holmes stories, this attempt at blackmail is fra med as a wholly unsavory crime, not only because of the belief that the claims made by the blackmailer are patently untrue, but also because the disturbance of the separation between the private and public spheres is an inherent aspect of the crime. Ordina rily, such a plot would be easy to untangle with the help of the police, but due to Lady Broome's past profession as her husband's governess, and the attention it would gain if handled publicly, Sir Joshua enlists Dene's assistance to protect the family fr om scandal. The case becomes more complicated, however, when Dene's investigation uncovers the criminal record of a Margaret Grey, a governess who was arrested in 1886 and "sentenced to six months' imprisonment for stealing some rings from a jeweller's tr ay while examining goods" (2: 102). The details of this record make mention of the
65 woman's employer, Mr. John Garrod, who attempted to defend her, claiming that, "at the most it was a case of kleptomania," but she was still placed on trial and found guilty (2: 102). Sir Joshua's story of his employment of Lady Broome confirms that this was the same man who had given him a reference when he hired his future wife, yet Dene maintains her belief that the Margaret Grey who was arrested for stealing was not the s ame woman whose reputation she was trying to protect. As in "The Co Respondent," Dene is placed in a scenario where she must fight against the obvious, material evidence in order to uncover the truth, and just as before, Mr. Saxon doubts her, saying, "Your arguments, my dear Dorcas, would be excellent supposing the charge were untrue, but you have the strongest possible evidence that the blackmailers have facts on their side" (2: 104). Mr. Saxon's willingness to doubt Dene's abilities and convictions acts a s a constant reminder of the gendered expectations she is fighting against. Though this is the final story in the series, and Dene has repeatedly proved her capacity as a detective, her gender remains a source of doubt, even for those who have witnessed he r remarkable success. Fortunately, Dene pursues this case with the same level of confidence she shows in previous stories, undermining Mr. Saxon's doubts, and saving Lady Broome's reputation. Through careful investigation, Dene is able to determine that t he "One Who Knows" is residing with a tobacconist b y the name of Winters, and that "she is a good looking woman of about two or three and thirty, well educated, and in every way I should say the man's superior. But she is a heavy drinker. She speaks like a woman of education, but with a slight American accent" (2: 106). Though her alcoholism reflects poorly on her character, it is her accent that intrigues the detective, because the man who
66 had vouched for Margaret Grey during her arrest, and given her a positive recommendation to Sir Joshua, was American. Mr. Saxon suggests that this is perhaps a simple coincidence, but Dene firmly believes there to be a connection between the two, and in order to discover it, contacts Mr. Garrod. They make arrangements t o meet, and Dene initially lies about the reasons for their meeting, claiming that Mr. Saxon is the executor of a will leaving money to Miss Margaret Grey. Mr. Garrod evades their questions, refusing to answer even after their knowledge of Miss Grey's arre st has been revealed. It is not until she tells him she is a private detective working for Sir Joshua, accuses him of recommending a convicted thief to care for his children, and explains the blackmail plot against the young woman that he is willing to coo perate. Reading the letter, Mr. Garrod is struck with recognition, and tells Dene, "if you will leave this letter with me for six hours I will undertake that no more shall be heard of this infamous threat" (2: 112). She refuses the offer, instead providing him with the address both of the "One Who Knows" and of Sir Joshua, so he might remedy the situation and explain his previous actions. As in the other Dene stories, the final actions of the case are not revealed to the reader until after they have occurr ed, when the detective and those involved have gathered in Sir Joshua's library. After confirming that the woman he recommended to Sir Joshua as a governess was of the highest character, and had never served the prison sentence linked to her name, Mr. Garr od explained that it was his wife who had been arrested and was sending the letters in an attempt to blackmail Lady Broome. Mrs. Garrod had a history of kleptomania, and despite her husband's attempts to help her, she was unable to resist the temptation. W hile staying in London, she was caught stealing
67 rings from a jeweler, and "in her terror when asked for her name and address she had at first refused it, but presently a diabolical idea entered her head. She gave her name as Margaret Grey, said she was a g overness, and begged that her employer might be telegraphed for" (2: 115). To protect the family reputation, Mr. Garrod did not expose his wife's lie, choosing instead to send his family abroad with the real Miss Grey and allow his wife to serve her sent ence. He believed that once the term in prison was served, the case would never be mentioned again, and therefore never told his governess of the crimes tied to her name. After Mrs. Garrod was released, "she gave way to habits of intemperance," and left he r husband, practically disappearing until the letters she sent to Lady Broome exposed her (2: 117). Recognizing her in a crowd outside the Palace, the former Mrs. Garrod came up with a scheme with Mr. Winter to blackmail the young woman, knowing that her d enial of involvement would not be sufficient proof against the arrest records and damage to her reputation. Mrs. Garrod's nationality, alcoholism, and kleptomania all contribute to her inability to exist within the domestic sphere in England. As illustrat ed in the Holmes and Brooke stories, nationality is central to one's ability to fit in British society, and Mrs. Garrod's position as an American aligns her with Irene Adler and Princess Dullah Veih, women who are given the chance to adapt to English domes ticity, but notably fail to do so. Her alcoholism is one of the key markers that she is unable to fulfill her expected role of wife and mother, despite her "good birth" (2: 114). Her decision, "after two years of misery [to leave her husband] with a man wh o was coming to England" confirms her unwillingness to conform to British Victorian domestic ideals (2: 117). Kleptomania, however, somewhat complicates her role as a criminal woman. Popular explanations for
68 kleptomania at the time stemmed from psychoanaly sis, and in "The Sexual Root of Kleptomania," Stekel mak e s the claim that "the root of kleptomania is ungratified sexual instinct" (240). Speaking of women who demonstrate kleptomaniacal urges, he writes that "they are engaged in a constant struggle with their desires. They would like to do what is forbidden, but they lack the strength. Theft is to them a symbolic act. The essential point is that they do something that is forbidden, touch something that does not belong to them" (240). The repression assoc iated with the role she is meant to fill, then, appears to be a motivating force in Mrs. Garrod's criminality. That she leaves her husband with another man after her time in prison suggests that she was indulging one urge in place of another, and that her time outside of the domestic sphere led her to abandon self control and repression guaranteed by domestic ideology. Mrs. Garrod's criminal behavior, then, is simultaneously a reaction against domesticity, and a result of the pressures it puts upon women. False Identities? The final Dorcas Dene story ends in the domestic sphere, the same place where many of the lady detective's adventures are recounted, and where she receives assistance on cases from her husband, mother, and even her dog. Sims's decision to end his series within Dene's home, rather than with her explaining the crimes that were committed against Lady Broome and her husband, is key to the way that Dene is framed as a wife first and a detective second. These two roles are at odds with each ot her throughout the entire series, and by concluding the last story with Dene's desire to "go away and have a long, long holiday" with her husband, Sims again emphasizes the her dedication first
69 and foremost to her domestic life (G. Sims 2: 119). Though D ene enjoys detective work and is adept at it, Sims is determined to maintain traditionally feminine priorities for his protagonist, consistently placing her within domestic spaces, and using Mr. Saxon as a witness to her femininity. The use of a male narra tor who knew Dene from her time working as an actress guarantees that the reader receives a very specific idea of the detective. In this way, he is very similar to Holmes's Dr. Watson, as both men are responsible for the way their respective detectives are viewed by readers; however, the approaches taken by Sims and Doyle are rather different. In the Holmes stories, Watson illustrates the many ways in which the detective subverts norms, while emphasizing the ways in which these subversions make him success ful at his career and in uncovering hidden truth. Kestner writes that, "In establishing rationality, factuality, daring, pluck and observation as qualities of both his hero and, ideally, his culture, Doyle was concerned to make Holmes completely distinctiv e: Holmes had to be both ideal but distant, a model but also a paradigm" ( Sherlock's Men 37). Watson's descriptions of Holmes turn him into a somewhat superhuman figure, because his observations and deductive powers are so far beyond that of the doctor. Li ke Sims's Mr. Saxon, Doyle's Watson is often left in the dark by his companion as the cases progress, making Holmes's leaps in logic and reason particularly fascinating, despite their apparent "simplicity" when he takes the time to explain them. By describ ing Holmes in such enigmatic ways, Watson provides him, "with elements that mark him as both paradigm and outsider," and it is his position as an outsider that is key to his power as a detective ( Sherlock's Men 37). Holmes is able to move freely through th e public sphere, from the highest levels of society, to the poorest parts of London. He
70 maintains certain aspects of Victorian masculinity, but it is the fluidity of his identity that brings about his success in solving mysteries. Watson's awe at his abili ty to disguise himself to fit within any part of society further contributes to the nearly magical image that he paints of the detective. Mr. Saxon's descriptions of Dene, however, serve the opposite function. Despite her many actions that challenge tradi tional femininity, the man chronicling her adventures is wholly dedicated to portraying her as proper Victorian woman and demystifying the detective herself. In order to do so, Mr. Saxon repeatedly references her physical appearance and her "woman's heart, as well as the help she is given by her husband (G. Sims 2: 48). Though he is clearly impressed by her abilities, Mr. Saxon also questions her instincts, illustrating the ways that her gender supposedly undermines her aptitude. His doubts often arise dur ing cases where the evidence is against her, which are actually the times when she is most qualified. In these circumstances, her gender is an asset: it provides her with specialized knowledge to observe what men might overlook. Just as Holmes's position a s an outsider gives him an edge over his opponents, Dene's gendered knowledge and understanding of the domestic sphere gives her the advantage. This understanding also helps her to form close bonds with her female clients. These sympathetic bonds are impor tant, and they help to further connect her to the private sphere, despite her unusual occupatio n. In fact, Kestner claims that "Dorcas Dene's real family results from her profession, above all through her assistance to women involved in crime by the activi ties of male members of their families" ( Sherlock's Sisters 106). These relationships simultaneously subvert and support societal expectations, for while they rely on women challenging their roles within the household, they remain within the
71 domestic spher e. By repeatedly emphasizing her role in this sphere, Mr. Saxon attempts to limit Dene's identity as an independent professional, focusing instead on the ways she cherishes her home life more than her occupation. In both series, however, the reader is for ced to question the narrator due to the actions of the characters they write about. Throughout the Holmes stories, the detective berates his companion for the florid descriptions of the cases her solves: "I glanced over it," said he. "Honestly, I cannot c ongratulate you upon it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much of the same effect as if you worked a love story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid." (Doyle 3: 217) Similarly, Dene's actions, from her elaborate disguises to her willingness to undermine the law, frequently contradict the perfect image of womanhood that Mr. Saxon projects upon her. Bot h Dr. Watson and Mr. Saxon present idealized, romanticized images of their detectives, and though the descriptions of the two vary widely, they have similar effects on the reader. Holmes, because of his protests against Watson's elaborate descriptions, bec omes somewhat less impressive, though it is clear that he holds his powers in high esteem, stating, "Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved me ntion was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unraveling it" (3: 217). Had this approach been taken in the Dorcas Dene stories, her
72 gender would become irrelevant except in the circumstances when gendered social ization provides her with special insight into a case. Mr. Saxon's admiration of her dedication to her husband and her womanly bearing, as well as his doubts that stem from gendered expectations of women, would disappear from the story, leaving the lady de tective to solve her cases without the burdens of Victorian ideals. That Mr. Saxon's opinions of Dene remain in the forefront of the stories acts as a means of preventing her from becoming too independent and too radical for Victorian readers.
73 Conclusion The women found in the mystery stories by Doyle, Pirkis, and Sims illustrate the many ways in which femininity could be constructed and disrupted in Victorian England. Both the criminals and the lady detectives act as subversive figures; however, it is thr ough careful construction of behavior and lifestyle that the authors are able to draw the line between useful and destructive forms of subversion. The disruption of the public and private spheres through acts of crime and investigation draw attention to th e ways that these boundaries constrict women. In doing so, the authors simultaneously critique these barriers while using the detectives to maintain the status quo. The opposition of detectives and criminals acts as a means of mirroring, as both figures re ject social norms in order to achieve their goals the only thing that separates them are their motivations. The appearance of women whose crimes expand beyond adultery or prostitution and lady detectives who are able to support themselves through employm ent emphasizes anxieties concerning the growing freedom of women within Victorian society. This approach to crime and justice also explores the ways in which morality is gendered, as the women in these stories rarely face the same penalties as men. This hi ghlights the different standards of behavior that were applied to men and women, and further cements the attempted separation of the public and private spheres, despite the ways in which these acts force the two spheres to overlap. Though the female chara cters featured in these stories became more progressive as time passed, the authors were careful to maintain an appropriate adherence to feminine ideals so that they remained acceptable for proper Victorian audiences. The different approaches used in attem pting to question social boundaries while maintaining femininity
74 defines the women that appear in each series, and despite the many similarities that can be found across these series, the women they feature are framed in three distinct manners. In Doyle's stories, Sherlock Holmes is faced by women who turn to criminality as a means of defense, in reaction to crimes committed against them by men. By framing female criminals in this way, Doyle is able to explore the concept of female criminality without destr oying their abilities to enact idealized femininity. Both Lady Hilda and Milverton's veiled murderess commit crimes out of desperation their concern is the protection of their reputation and rightful place within the private sphere. Though they enter the public sphere in order to commit their crimes, both women are able to return to their domestic lives after Holmes's investigation. Irene Adler, as the woman, does not fit this model as neatly due to the threat she poses to both the King of Bohemia and to Holmes himself, but in the end she too retires to the domestic sphere, after happily marrying Godfrey Norton. Pirkis, in creating Loveday Brooke, attempts to reject the need for women to be anchored in the domestic sphere, though she is only somewhat suc cessful. Very little is revealed about Brooke's private life, and her concerns are wholly related to her career; however, she does not have the same amount of independence as a male detective like Holmes. Because she works for a detective agency, Brooke ha s a man exerting a certain amount of control over her actions, though he does not have the same amount of power that a husband would. Brooke is also repeatedly linked to the domestic sphere by the cases she solves, as she is most often employed in scenario s that require her to work within the private sphere. Because she is a woman, she is able to move throughout domestic spaces without the suspicion that might be raised by a male detective. The cases
75 involving the disappearances of Mdlle. Cunier, Miss Monro e, and Miss Golding further emphasize Brooke's rejection of feminine ideals, while illustrating her understanding of them. She is able to solve them successfully due to her understanding of women's motivations, particularly concerning marriage, despite her lack of interest in pursuing matrimony herself. Unlike Pirkis, Sims wrote Dorcas Dene in a way that allowed her to embrace both her career and her domestic life, creating a lady detective who was firmly rooted in the home while also being completely com petent in her profession. It is Dene's adherence to traditional ideals of femininity that allows her even more freedom than Brooke: because Mr. Saxon repeatedly mentions her role as wife and homemaker, the detective is allowed to move through the public sp here wearing disguises like those employed by Holmes, despite the fact that they contradict social expectations. Dene's subversion is made further acceptable due to the kinds of female criminals she faces. The women who commit the crimes in these stories d o so for personal gain, and while they are attempting to protect themselves, their use of criminality contrasts with Dene's acceptable career as a detective. Dene is both the most traditional and the most subversive character in these stories. Sims's appro ach to creating a lady detective who displays the same level of skill and competency as her male counterparts while also maintaining her identity as the angel in the house suggests that he was attempting to create a woman who could use her femininity, a tr ait that was meant to restrain women in the private sphere, to move into the public sphere in a way that does not wholly disrupt the system that Victorian society was built upon.
76 Works Cited Crompton, Constance. "Dissimulation and the Detecting Eye: Fema le Masculinity in A Scandal in Bohemia.'" Nineteenth Century Gender Studies 7.3 (2011) : n. pag. Web. 9 October 2012. Doyle, Arthur Conan. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Volume I and II Ed. Leslie S. Klinger. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. Print. --. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Volume III Ed. Leslie S. Klinger. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. Print. Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981. Print. Gavin, Adrienne E. "C. L. Pirkis (not "Miss")': Public Women, Private Lives, and The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective ." Writing Women of the Fin de Sicle: Authors of Change Ed. Adrienne E. Gavin and Carolyn W. de la L. Oulton Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 137 150. Print. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution Ed. Carl Degler. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1966. Print Harrington, Ellen. "Failed Detectives and Dangerous Females: Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Detective Short Story." Journal of the Short Story in English 45 (2005) : 13 28. Web. 20 September 2012. Jann, Rosemary. "Sherlock Holmes Codes the Social Body." ELH 57.3 (1990) : 685 708. Print.
77 Kestner, Joseph A. Sherlock's Men: Masculinity, Conan Doyle, and Cultural History Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1997. Print. --. Sherlock's Sisters: The British Female Detective, 1864 1913 Alde rshot: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2003. Print. Klein, Kathleen Gregory. The Woman Detective: Gender & Genre 2 nd ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995. Klinger, Leslie S. "The World of Sherlock Holmes." The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Volume I Ed. Leslie S. Klinger. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. xvii lxvii. Print. Krumm, Pascale. "A Scandal in Bohemia' and Sherlock Holmes's Ultimate Mystery Solved." English Literature in Transition, 1880 1920 39.2 (1996) : 193 203. Print. Kungl, Carla T. Creating the Fictional Female Detective: The Sleuth Heroines of British Women Writers, 1890 1940 Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2006. Print. Metress, Christopher. "Diplomacy and Detection in Conan Doyle's The Second Stain.'" English Literature in Transition, 1880 1920 37.1 (1994) : 39 51. Print. Pirkis, C. L. The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective London: Hutchinson & Co., 1894. Print. Sagan, Eli. Freud, Women, and Morality: The Psychology of Good and Evil New York: Basic Books, 1988. Print. Sims, George R. Dorcas Dene, Detective: Her Adventures London: F. V. White & Co., 1897. Print.
78 --. Dorcas Dene, Detective: Her Adventures (Second Series) London: F. V. White & Co., 1898. Print. Sims, Michael, ed. The Penguin Book of Vict orian Women in Crime New York: Penguin Books, 2011. Print. Stekel, Wilhelm. "The Sexual Root of Kleptomania." Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 2.2 (1911) : 239 246. Print. Trodd, Anthea. Domestic Crime in the Victorian N ovel New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. Print. Young, Arlene. "Petticoated Police': Propriety and the Lady Detective in Victorian Fiction." Clues: A Journal of Detection 26.3 (2008) : 15 28. Print.