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    The evolution of detective's sidekicks from John Watson to Robin Ellacott (Cormoran Strike novels).

    Provide the typology of famous detective’s sidekicks and analyse the way they have changed over the years. What makes a likable sidekick in modern detective literature. Is the fact that Robin Ellacott is a woman dictated by the feminist trend, by the plot or by any other factors? Does the detailed characterisation of the sidekick make for a better novel? What kind of detective – sidekick tandem would you like to read about in future?

    • Cool topic. I took a seminar in Detective Fiction last year within which a popular speculative theory was brought to our attention that many people believe there is evidence to suggest that Watson could have been female...or at least that Watson's gender was left ambiguous. This would be something interesting to look into if you were to discuss detective sidekicks and gender. -hillary – hilldextrase 8 years ago
    • Building off of Hillary's point, there's an interesting intersection between John Watson and recent feminist trends which has come in the form of "Joan Watson" (as played by Lucy Liu) in the American tv series Elementary. Although the show is vastly inferior to its BBC counterpart, one could argue that re-casting Watson as a female is quite the progressive move - which is consequently negated by her frequent involvement in oversexualised slap fights with equally attractive female villains and henchwomen. When Conan Doyle first invented the character in 1887, he was a doctor and a war vet, both of which being indicators in that day and age that the character most likely needed to be male; however, this recent update has proven that, in 2012 and onward, there is no valid reason why the same character cannot be female and still prove to be just as proficient a detective as Holmes. – ProtoCanon 8 years ago
    • Good topic. Is it possible, though, that the writer might find that sidekicks have not changed in a significant way, or that they have changed but the changes are superficial? – Tigey 8 years ago
    • Interesting topic--I found both Robin and John to be very similar at first glance (Robin's definitely a little more on top of it than Watson). In the early detective fiction, many of the sidekicks were meant as a frame for the reader to be put in (think Edgar Allen Poe's stories). – ckmwriter 8 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Thank you very much Monique for the wonderful article.

    “Labyrinth”, to me, is a great postmodern take on the fairy tale, which can be perceived and enjoyed on so many levels.

    I really liked your usage of Propp’s principles and your illustrations of how they were reworked and played with by the creators of the “Labyrinth”.

    The Labyrinth can be seen as the Jungian Underground of Sarah’s Unconscious, as the story and most of the characters are within Sarah’s mind, including Jareth. He is her Jungian Shadow, embodying the qualities she cannot accept within herself, such as being selfish, cruel and manipulating.

    I do not resent Sarah so much as she is a typical teenager, but I do disagree with her treatment of Jareth. She has created a place for him that is simply not liveable, she has given him so many roles: Father figure, Suitor, Villain / Shadow and Trickster – no wonder he is exhausted. He himself admits that, he “can’t live within” her, which is a very intelligent twist to the usual “I can’t live without you” line. There is a clear-cut conflict, Sarah defeats Jareth and he seems to disappear or, at least, take a step back.

    The problem is, you can’t just banish your Shadow from your Unconscious onto the nearest tree where it sits in the form of an owl and watches you as you play with your toys. Shadow needs to be addressed, talked to, understood. You can make your Shadow your ally or maybe even your friend – something that Sarah has refused Jareth.

    Jareth as Sarah’s Shadow is actually full of good qualities: he is artistic and attractive, he can be devoted and gentle, he is bold and he gives an impression of confidence even if he feels shaky. These are the qualities that would be more than useful to Sarah as an adult, especially if she pursues acting as a profession.

    So, with or without a sequel to the actual film, in her personal life Sarah is bound to go back to her Jungian Underground as there are still stories untold and questions unanswered that she needs to address. As she encounters difficulties, whether at college or looking for that first job or failing at her first auditions, it would be good for her to find Jareth’s support and to fight alongside him, not against him. It would give Jareth something to do as well and perhaps, once the service is done, it would set him free.

    The film is in fact a really good reminder that, from time to time, it is good for every one of us to go down into their own Underground and to meet all kinds of creatures, attractive or otherwise, that inhabit it. It allows us to learn more about what we fear, what we love, what is ruling us at the moment and what we really truly want to do with our life.

    I feel sad that I have only discovered the film recently as it would have helped me through my teenage years. At the same time, I am incredibly grateful to Jim Henson, David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly for bringing this beautiful tender story to all of us as we definitely need it.

    Labyrinth (1986): Power, Sex, and Coming of Age

    Thank you very much for the article Emily, it really shows the dedication and the huge amount of material involved. Makes it a lot easier for people who are just getting interested in the topic and already getting confused by the abundance of vampires of all shapes and sizes in fiction, cinema and TV. Definitely a helpful link to be saved for future reference!

    Vampires in Literature: Opera Cloaks, Sparkles, and Prevailing Themes

    Would you agree that the audience has been so spoilt by inevitable happy endings in films and cartoons that when a not entirely happy but, as you say, the most dramatically fitting conclusion is revealed, the reader / viewer is shocked?

    In Defense of the Conclusion to "The Little Mermaid"

    Great list, thank you! Believe “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro has not been mentioned, yet it deserves to be up there.

    7 Classic Books For Those New to Dystopia