In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia,” there is no crime involved, no robbery, no murder; but this doesn’t mean that there is no mystery in the story. This Sherlock Holmes novel is indeed full of mystery, even without crimes like murder or burglary with no known suspects. The story’s mystery has been attached with Watson’s character, since he is the one telling the story. Consequently, suspense is created in the story by introducing an important character at the beginning without initially exposing his or her personality until the end. As the reader keeps on with the story, the character’s true motives or relations would be unfolded little by little, creating the suspense in the story.
The story began with Watson telling about the woman in Sherlock Holmes’ life (Doyle, 1). It is not clear whether this was about a previous love affair, a family member, or just an acquaintance, but for Watson, any woman that Sherlock Holmes would look up to would surely be something of great worth. At the very beginning of the story, mystery has been introduced when Watson talked about a certain Irene Adler, who had been somewhat related to his detective friend, Sherlock Holmes. But he left the readers hanging without telling what real relation did the detective had with Irene Adler. Its as if Watson was just recounting the memory for himself, the details yet to be revealed to the readers, keeping them hanging and wanting to go on reading.
After Watson reminisced about the woman, Irene Adler, the story shifts to him recounting his last encounters with Sherlock Holmes. It seems that it has been a while since he last saw him, hinting that the story would be told totally as Watson sees it. Watson seems to long for the case-solving days with Sherlock Holmes and then decides to see him one day. In his luck, he meets up with the detective who has just been requested to solve a new case. Watson then decides to stick around with Sherlock Holmes and help him with solving whatever case he would be given.
In this part, Watson again returns as the sidekick of Holmes, hinting to the readers that they are about to confront a mystery or a case that they would have to solve. It came in the form of a letter – a poorly constructed letter from a German client. With a display of Holmes’ power of deduction, he was able to pinpoint where the letter came from, but the purpose was still unknown. Again, this gives mystery to the story – an unknown letter telling Holmes to expect for a call, and was constructed by someone from a foreign country, “it is in a German-speaking country,” according to Holmes (3).
Their question of who sent the letter was answered a few moments later when a masked person arrived in a carriage, introducing himself as “Count Von Kramm” (4). The masked person adds yet another mystery to the story, wherein people would ask why he needs to hide behind a mask when it was the service of the great detective he seeks. With a few exchanges of words, Sherlock Holmes was able to unmask the mysterious client. He was the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Bohemia, Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, the Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein (5). This just proves Holmes’ great talent, which seem to have brought some confidence to their latest client. The case he asked Holmes to solve was not very risky or life-threatening, but it was difficult. Holmes was to retrieve a picture of the Duke with a woman, in order to save him the shame before he marries the daughter of the King of Scandinavia, a family noted to have strict principles (6).
The Duke’s problem is that the woman who was with him in the picture was very careful in keeping it. Her house has been searched and her luggage ransacked, but the Duke’s men weren’t able to find any trace of the picture. The woman was none other than Irene Adler, a stage actress whom the Duke had a relationship 5 years ago (5). In this part of the story, we find out about Irene Adler, the woman Watson was talking about in the beginning. It is because the story is again being remembered by Watson, recounting his memories of the case that connect Sherlock Holmes and the woman, Irene Adler (1). It creates a feeling of suspense, since it unfolds to the readers that Irene Adler was from Sherlock Holmes’ old case, but still leaves us hanging, not telling how the two have been related for Adler to earn Holmes’ attention. Irene Adler who was introduced at the beginning by Watson was now the source of their client’s problem, and that’s what they do, solve their client’s problems.
Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend, Watson accepted the job being offered by the wealthy Duke. They were given a hefty sum to go about with the case, wherein Sherlock Holmes started in no time. Early the next day, he was already studying the place where Irene Adler lives, as recounted by Watson, who was left in Holmes place, waiting for the detective’s return. Later that day, Holmes returned in one of his disguises, telling Watson everything that he has found out about Irene Adler. He found out that there is another man in Irene Adler’s life, in the person of Mr. Godfrey Norton. Norton has been seeing Ms. Adler very often and calls her everyday. Sherlock Holmes wondered what relationship the two had, and in no time, he found out in a very unusual way. He went and followed the two when they went out of the house. They were married in a nearby church, and lucky for Sherlock Holmes, he was asked to be the witness of the marriage (10). Fearing that the couple might leave town after marriage, Sherlock Holmes told Watson his plan that must be done later that night. Watson will be there to help him.
“This is a very unexpected turn of affairs,” according to Watson, which has yet increased the mystery of the story (10). The question would be on how a married woman could catch Sherlock Holmes’ attention, added the fact that he has devised a plan for them to solve the case. There is the time pressure – Holmes staked out the place in the morning, the woman got married later during the day, and the plan would be executed later that night. It’s as if something would go wrong, especially with the pace of solving the case going fast.
Holmes, disguised as a beaten-up clergyman easily got into her house (11). After Holmes got in, it was Watson’s turn to cause a commotion. He threw a smoke-rocket in an open window of Adler’s house he shouted that there’s fire. This has caused Adler to panic, almost retrieving her prized-possession at that time, the picture of the Duke and her together. With that, Sherlock Holmes knew that the plan was a success; he was able to uncover the secret hiding place of the picture. The story seemed to have finally come to an end with Holmes again being able to locate the picture (13).
But again, even with no murders or burglary, the story is still full of mystery. He didn’t retrieve the picture; he deemed that the Duke would be much delighted if he himself would see and get it (14). It hints that the story is not over yet, that there is still one last mystery left unsolved – how Irene Adler became the woman to Sherlock Holmes. This is how the suspense had been maintained all throughout the story. From the very start, Irene Adler has already been mentioned, but nothing is revealed of her character, up until now, we know very little from her, keeping the readers hanging, expecting something that we don’t know of yet.
The Duke was so happy that Holmes solved the case in no time, only to find out that Adler has already left early that morning. With a letter, Sherlock Holmes found out that he was not the only one who’s good with disguises. When he left Adler’s place that night, Irene changed into man’s clothing and followed Holmes. She said that she has been warned of the Duke hiring Sherlock Holmes a few months ago, that’s why it has been her habit of being wary of every situation she is confronted with. But in the letter, she did promise to the Duke that she would never again intervene in his life, for she has already found love with Mr. Norton (15).
Before she went away, she left a picture for the Duke to remember her, which Holmes asked for as his payment (16). The final mystery has been solved – the woman, Irene Adler, has been the only female to beat the great detective Sherlock Holmes. The suspense of the story has revolved around the character of Irene Adler. Since the beginning she has already been introduced, and as the story progresses, her story is unfolded little by little, until the end, as she gained Sherlock Holmes’ respect as the woman who was able to beat him.