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Title: The “Gypsies” as displaced others in Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories
Authors: Goodson, Alan
Keywords: Romanies in literature
Holmes, Sherlock -- Fiction
Doyle, Arthur Conan, 1859-1930 -- Characters -- Romanies
Displacement (Psychology) in literature
Issue Date: 2018-02
Publisher: University of Malta. Department of English
Citation: Goodson, A. (2018). The “Gypsies” as displaced others in Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Antae Journal, 5(1), 17-30.
Abstract: The Romany people feature prominently in nineteenth-century British literature as a prototypical displaced “other” symbolic of moral, social, and racial standards antithetical to the national ideal. We read examples of this trope in Austen’s Emma, Charlotte Bronte’s Jayne Eyre, Matthew Arnold’s ‘The Scholar Gypsy’ and Stoker’s 'Dracula' among many other works. Doyle’s treatment of “Gypsies” in his Sherlock Holmes stories such as ‘The Speckled Band’, ‘Silver Blaze’, ‘The Priory School’ and ‘The Hound of The Baskervilles’ opens a subversive space resisting a stereotypical representation which may be expected from an author whose cultural conservatism is well documented, and whose Holmes stories are often seen as reinforcing sentiment sympathetic to the Imperial and British national ideal. Many of Doyle’s Holmes stories feature either foreigners or English characters returning from abroad culturally subverted, who threaten to disrupt the harmonious space of British society. The country becomes a safer place when these “types” are categorised according to Holmes’ methodology in relation to the ideal hierarchy, which has the white Anglo-Saxon male at its summit. The “Gypsies” maintain anonymity as a quasi-autonomous, mobile and discrete culture within British national boundaries yet in these stories they are never responsible for crime, while suspicion is often the cause of their displacement as they are forced to avoid local disturbance. The narrative, therefore, seeks to inform the reader that the Roma do not threaten domestic space in spite of their non-conformist behaviour.
Appears in Collections:Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1
Antae Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1

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