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Sam Spade Vs. Sherlock Holmes

Sam Spade and Sherlock Holmes are alike in many respects. Though they have obvious differences, their similarities are more notable. Spade and Holmes are both fictional characters, detectives by trade, and they use the same basic principles when solving crimes. Their styles are different, but equally effective. Both get the job done in a thrilling and suspenseful manner that keeps the reader wanting more.

Holmes and Spade had a myriad of common traits. Neither slept very much. Holmes’ lack of sleep could have been attributed to his cocaine use, and also to his constant reasoning and thinking. The latter reason would be true for Spade as well. They both used similar means to solve mysteries. Logic, evaluating evidence, and not relying on deathbed confessions, or confessions of any kind for that matter were employed by the two detectives. Also seen in Holmes and Spade is the ability to act above the law in order to preserve justice. Spade was far more concerned with right and wrong than the way of the law and followed a clearly defined moral code, even if the police disagreed. The only time that either detective worked with the local authorities was when it came time to apprehend the criminal.

Both Spade and Holmes fought their crimes in dangerous areas. The London fog in which Holmes lives is as dark and dangerous as the mean San Francisco streets Sam Spade wandered. Organized crime was a powerful force in both places. Violence was common, corruption was everywhere, and people were frequently aggressive for no apparent reason. Holmes and Spade certainly lived in equally precarious cities. Due to their similar surroundings, these two detectives paralleled in the type of cases they investigated; these cases often involving deaths, dishonesty, and the darker side of human nature.

Though Spade and Holmes had many similarities, they also had differences. Firstly, Holmes was not involved in the same level of physical violence as Spade. Although adventure was not something Holmes was unfamiliar with and his tales were never timid ones, the action was not as brutal as that of Spade’s story. Holmes never took the kind of physical abuse that Spade received while working a case. Secondly, it appears that Holmes deduces the what, where, and when in a much faster fashion then Spade. Holmes often had his cases figured out in his mind from the beginning of a case, while Spade seemed to discover answers along the way. Holmes, who was not an ordinary detective like Spade, was a keen scientist who relied on forensic evidence before his knowledge of human behavior. This was not the case with Spade, who depended on his ability to deduce facts from interactions with characters when solving cases. Lastly, Spade and Homes differed in attitude. The dialogue of Holmes and his fellow characters is still the British-speak of its time, without the sting of wise guy talk that could only develop in 1920’s America. Holmes was an Elizabethan smart aleck, but he lacked the blatant insolence Spade exhibited.

Upon inspection, the characters Sam Spade and Sherlock Holmes begin to look quite alike. Though these two detectives differ in their styles of solving crimes in terms of attitude, approach, and speed, these superficial differences are outweighed by their fundamental commonalities. Both Spade and Holmes followed personal codes that could not be swayed by others, including authority figures. These detectives may have taken different routes, but in the end both maintained suspense throughout their stories, kept the reader asking for more, and solved their cases in equally qualified fashions.

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