The Egyptian in Sherlock Holmes

This is the part of the show where I pretend that it’s not Thursday, but in fact Wednesday, and I am not blogging a day late. Pretend with me, readers! Pretend with me.

Anyway. Note that this blog post contains SPOILERS about the season 2 premiere of the BBC show, Sherlock. If you have not yet seen this episode and do not want to be spoiled, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG POST. Skip down until you see red text, at which point the danger has passed.


On Tuesday I watched the newest episode of Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia. Follow this with yesterday beginning a paper on the warring natures of Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra. The subject of my paper, as I mentioned, is how the two natures of Mark Antony are at war: his reason against his passion, or, as Shakespeare puts it, the Roman in him versus the Egyptian in him. Of course, the Roman leader does not take on his Egyptian nature by himself – no. Mark Antony is turned Egyptian by none other than Egypt herself: Cleopatra.

As I was writing my paper, I started to notice parallels between the interaction and situation of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler (who, by the way, I didn’t enjoy – at all) compared to Mark Antony and Cleopatra (fun fact: I didn’t enjoy her, either). After all, both women use the seduction and manipulation to bring about the deterioration of the men opposite them, and I find that their situations mirror each other in more ways that you would think.

At the beginning of the episode, Sherlock is Mark Antony at the end of Julius Caesar (the play in which Antony is first introduced to us by Shakespeare). Actually, no, strike that. He is Antony in Act III, Scene II of Julius Caesar. He has not yet vanquished his enemy – in this comparison, Moriarti is Brutus, a comparison that doesn’t fit the individual characters (Moriarti doesn’t strike me as “the noblest Roman of them all,” but I digress), but works in the general scheme of things – but the crisis has, for now, been averted. He has rallied the support of his people (in Julius Caesar, having given his famous ‘I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him’ speech, in Sherlock, having risen to popularity thanks to Watson’s blog), and is pretty confident.

Enter the pretty woman. At this point it’s worth mentioning that while Irene Adler is very similar to Cleopatra, she is not a perfect clone. Cleopatra was completely ruled by her passions (as shown in the play by the fact that while Antony realizes their relationship is destroying them, Cleopatra doesn’t even think about it, she just wants Antony, pure and simple), and even though Irene Adler is ruled by her passions in one way (I mean, just look at what she calls her ‘career’), she does have some of the Roman in her. Not enough, in the end, as proven by the passcode to her phone. To quote Sherlock, “Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.” Irene’s passion, her sentiment, the Egyptian in her, got the best of her in the end.

But we’re not there yet. This is about Sherlock, and how Irene Adler could have brought about his downfall in much the same way that Cleopatra destroyed Antony – and how she almost did. It’s obvious from the first second of Sherlock and Irene’s interaction that Sherlock is not up to par around her. (To give him credit: she was completely naked and he was thrown. But still.) He’s not his usual self for a good minute and a half (which for Sherlock, is a long time), at which point he pulls himself together and goes back to operating at his normal level. That is, until things go awry and Sherlock is forced to give the men from the CIA a code that he does not have. It takes him too long, by Sherlock’s standards, to figure out the code, and once he does have the contents of the safe, it is taken from him by Irene (through the use of force and narcotics) and Sherlock is momentarily defeated. Defeat is not familiar to Sherlock, and this initial defeat is a foreshadowing of things to come.

To her credit, Irene plays the game well. (Despite being completely annoying and way too skanky for life, she does have a brain in her aggravating little skull.) And because she plays the game well, Sherlock is captivated – or as captivated as Sherlock can be. When Irene ‘dies’ (for the first of many times), he is, as Watson puts it, “Distraught.” It’s clear that Sherlock has some amount of feelings for The Woman. She, like Cleopatra, has introduced the Roman to Egypt.

At the end of the episode, in the scene on the plane, Sherlock realizes he has been played. It is Act IV, Scene XII of Antony and Cleopatra. “All is lost! This foul Egyptian hath betrayed me!” It is the end for Antony, and it is almost the end for Sherlock. He, like, Antony, sees his downfall – sees how this woman affected him, in the same way that Antony sees how he has been ruined by Cleopatra. This is the great tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra: Antony wants to be a true Roman – a man of reason and mind – but he’s too weak. He can’t control his passions and he knows it. He has been destroyed, and he wasn’t able to stop it.

Sherlock sees his downfall, but unlike Antony, he is not weak. He is not controlled by his passions – not anymore. He will not let this woman ruin him. “No.” “What did you say?” “I said, no.” This is where we see that even though Irene Adler gave Sherlock the taste of Egypt, he is still Roman. He is more Roman than Mark Antony will ever be. When it counts, he is able to use his reason and his mind, to return to rationality, and defeat the Egyptian parasite that has been dragging him down. It is the end for Irene Adler.

Or is it? We know that she’s alive at the end of th

e episode, because Sherlock saves her. This means she’s going to come back – an occurrence to which I’m not looking forward. All irritating personality traits aside, Irene Adler is not good for Sherlock. He barely made it out of this first encounter unscathed, and the fact that he rescued her shows that the Egypt in him is not entirely gone. I’m worried about Sherlock – after all, Antony and Cleopatra doesn’t lend itself to a sequel. A Scandal in Belgravia doesn’t either.


In other news, I’m really excited about Camp NaNoWriMo this year! I’ve already started my character bios and my rough outlines. I’m actually making a plot chart this year, so hopefully I won’t crash and burn (again).

One thing I’m psyched for in this novel is the magic – magic has been done so many times that it’s easy to be cliché, but I’ve got what I think are some cool ideas – I’m pulling things from philosophy and legend… I’m hoping to bring to it deeper meaning and simile and all of those things that I’ve always wanted to put into my writing but have never been able to. I’m taking a lot of inspiration from Tolkein, and of course C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. I have high hopes for this year! 🙂

And here’s a treat for all of you for sticking with this blog post even if you couldn’t read/weren’t interested:

A little Loki for you. You’re welcome. (I’m sorry if you don’t appreciate the full glory of Loki. Your loss.) (And before you ask, NO, I have not seen the movie yet, so do not spoil me.) (LANDON I AM LOOKING AT YOU AHEMMM. Thanks for that, dude. Thanks.)

Well, I’m off to waste an inordinate amount of time on the internet finish cleaning the study and then get started on my plot chart/sketches of characters. Have a great week, everybody!


4 comments on “The Egyptian in Sherlock Holmes

  1. I haven’t seen Avengers either, or even Thor. Loki looks cool, though… In Norse legend, he’s supposed to be a shapeshifting guy. Is there any truth to that (if you know the movies he’s in)?

    • Hero says:

      Loki is epic in mythology, but the Norse mythology is really messed up in Avengers & Thor. He’s not the trickster, he’s this weird ogre baby, and everything about Valhalla, etc, is messed up… They obviously didn’t consult ANYTHING, and just made it up. So yeah, if you see Thor (specifically) but also Avengers, don’t expect any of the lore, because it’s not there. They’re still good movies, and Loki’s still an awesome villain, but true-to-myth it is not.

  2. Themostestamazingestperson says:

    I love that Loki dude! hes da bomb.
    And IM SO EXCITED TO SEE WHAT YOU COME UP WITH!!!!!!!!! For nano I mean. Xciting. 😀

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