Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes’s “Queer” Relationship: An Alternative to Binary Thinking
Noord, S.V.F. de
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“Queering” is an alternative to the binary thinking that has favored and reinforced a heterosexual hierarchy through norms of sexuality, power dynamics, and morality. This thesis argues that Professor Moriarty, and Sherlock Holmes’s relationship “queers” and illustrates that “queering” can replace rigid dichotomies as exemplified in “The Final Problem” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (2011) and the complementary pastiche “Obsession” by Russel D. McLean (2015). Queer theories are used to challenge heterosexual norms and deconstruct three binary oppositions. The first chapter deconstructs the heterosexuality/homosexuality dichotomy by discussing how Moriarty’s same-sex desire for Holmes challenges heteronormativity. The professor’s admiration for Sherlock’s intellectual ability results in Moriarty accepting the detective as an equal. Next, the queer sadomasochist tone that characterizes their relationship is discussed as an indicator of Moriarty and Sherlock’s equal amount of control over one another. This demonstrates that neither fully experiences the absence of power in the power/powerlessness opposition. Turning to moral judgment the acceptability of the professor and detective’s “queering” relationship is examined in relation to good/evil. “Queer” has to remain a scene of contestation and applies to other norms and dichotomies as well such as masculinity/femininity and trusting/suspicious.