I wonder why you think Arthur Conan Doyle gave Holmes "the flaw of being a cocaine addict"? I have reada good 30 Holmes books (during a long bout of mono) and such an addiction really never comes up as an addiction, just a casual habit that is very rarely mentioned and really not a flaw. Did you read about this second hand or am I missing something?
I do like your blog a lot, am just curious.
Hrmm… That is a very interesting topic. I have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and loved them, and I also found the idea of Holmes’ cocaine “addiction” an interesting one.
(This is also very well timed, as I have only just returned from visiting the Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street, where, incidentally, they sell pens in the shape of syringes in homage to said addiction - perhaps a little bad taste, but certainly amusing).
Personally, I like Doyle’s inclusion of Holmes’ cocaine “addiction” because it makes Holmes a more rounded character. Previous to this revelation, the reader tends to put Holmes on a pedestal due to his heroic and almost superhuman qualities, and Doyle uses a cocaine addiction to prove to us that even HE is human. The references may be few, but they are certainly memorable, perhaps for the above reason.
Perhaps symbolically, Watson can see the danger that this causes to Holmes’ health - Watson being Holmes’ “guiding light” - and his insistance that Holmes should give up cocaine perhaps ultimately saves Holmes’ life. Holmes’ obedience to Watson’s request also shows the relationship between the two, as giving up a substance that he was addicted to would have been difficult, and Holmes would never have done so if anyone other than Watson had requested.
It also shows the reader that being a detective, and the intellectual stimulation it brings, is Holmes’ life. Holmes has nothing else to challenge him, as he would find any other occupations to pose any sort of problem for his active mind to solve, he has no commitments, and, previous to Watson, no friends. When there is a lapse in work then, Holmes has nothing else to do, so gets bored, which results in his use of cocaine.
The use of drugs such as cocaine, as well as opiates (which Holmes shows contempt for) were neither illegal nor uncommon in Holmes’ time, and the impact of Holmes’ addiction, as well as Doyle’s thought processes behind it, is explored here.
Personally, I interpret Holmes’ addiction in this way, though I am welcome to other interpretations - in fact, I welcome them, so any one, feel free to contribute. Hope this helps :)