I once read a very interesting piece about Dr. Watson that really caught my attention and opened my eyes in many ways, so I decided to write my own. Here it goes.
Everybody knows Dr. Watson as Sherlock Holmes ‘sidekick or assistant, always positioned as a secondary or minor character in the stories. Everything is about Sherlock Holmes: how smart he is, how observant, always knowing what to do or what to say, the ex-boxer anti violence genius, etc…. The books are named after him. The movies are named after him (just as a parenthesis, instead of watching the new action genre version of Sherlock in the movies, I would recommend watching Young Sherlock Holmes by Steven Spielberg made in 1986). Dr. Watson, however, is much more than just a sidekick.
By observing Dr. Watson´s life journey, it´s easy to infer he is not a mere person, but a very accomplished one. Dr. Watson was born in the 1800´s in England and served in the British army. Guess why is he called Dr. Watson and not Mr. Watson? Yes, very clever of you to guess so quickly, for he was a doctor in the Army. He was stationed in India for a while where he took a bullet in battle, got the fever and was eventually sent back to London. That´s when he met Sherlock and became his roommate.
Let’s now examine the real importance and raison d’être of Dr. Watson. First, Dr. Watson is the narrator of all the stories. Hence, I affirm, you would not know Sherlock´s adventures without his narrator. And what a wonderful narrator he is, always so humble that he never glorifies his own deeds, but only those of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. His use of language is great, giving you enough details to engage the reader but not to bore him. Above all, always able to tell the most complicated cases in a simple and understandable narrative.
Second, Dr. Watson is not only the narrator, but also Sherlock’s partner in almost every adventure. I say this to emphasize how Dr. Watson was always there to help Sherlock whenever he was in need, as a most loyal friend and ally. It´s no easy task to be able to accompany Sherlock Holmes; you have to be brave and courageous to face the enemies, cold-blooded to watch all the dead bodies, patient to put up with all of Sherlock´s eccentricities and most of all, smart enough to follow the detective´s thoughts. Only a very surefooted man could accomplish such tasks successfully.
Third, Dr. Watson experiences as a doctor/surgeon and soldier came in handy many times to the know-it-all detective. Dr. Watson is extremely helpful analyzing dead bodies in order to blossom an investigation. Moreover, in a couple of stories, he had to put his medicinal knowledge in practice to help solve a case or aid someone in help. Also, his soldier experience was very useful to Sherlock more than once when he needed someone who could handle a gun confidently.
Fourth and last, Dr. Watson is the balance of Sherlock´s life. Dr. Watson is everything that Sherlock is not, thus complementing his faults, which can be enormous. In contrast to Sherlock, Dr. Watson can be sentimental, emotional and have a greater degree of empathy. He loves women, goes after them and was even engaged to Mary Morstan. He’s someone who prefers to err in the side of caution and is capable of processing information with a human mind while Sherlock´s is all machinery.
I thus propose a salute to the great Dr. Watson, the most underestimated man in the annals of history.