"I would not tell them too much. Women are never to be entirely trusted—not the best of them."
-- Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four
This particular quote is not one I would wish to be handed the task of defending. However, Dr. Molly Carr gives that defense quite a boost with what she has revealed about Mary Morstan Watson in The Sign of Fear and A Study in Crimson!
Kate McCabe draws on this quote to build an interesting theory about Sherlock Holmes and women in my new mystery, No Police Like Holmes. Speaking to the "Investigating Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes" Colloquium, she says in part:
“. . . and Holmes himself repeatedly misstates his own posture toward the female of the species. In The Sign of Four, for example, he says that ‘love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself lest I bias my judgment.’ Holmes implies here a calculated neutrality with regard to women. This is patently false. Elsewhere in same book Holmes tells the good Watson, ‘women are never to be trusted – not the best of them.’ That is hardly a neutral attitude.
“And in ‘A Scandal in Bohemia,’ Watson reports that Holmes ‘never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.’ Does that sound like a man purged of all emotions toward the opposite sex? On the contrary, Holmes displays quite a strong emotion – a negative one. Was he, then, a born misogynist as some would have us believe – or even a homosexual? I submit that the opposite is true. At some point in his unrecorded past Sherlock Holmes loved well but not wisely. He was, in short, ‘burned.’”
What do you think of her theory?