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The television adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story ‘The Final Problem’ is a modern retelling of the traditional narrative in which both the storyline and characters are appropriated into new contexts. Sherlock’s ‘The Reichenback Fall’ provides a fresh interpretation of the storyline, making it accessible and relevant for viewers today. This has been expressed in the three major points shown in the film, the first major point is the true metaphorical meaning of the Reichenbach fall, and the second interpretation change is the construction of truth of Moriarty’s secret truth. Lastly, is the characterization of Moriarty demonstrated throughout the film.

A significant diversion from the text is the metaphorical meaning behind the title of ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ where Moriarty and Mr Holmes ‘fall’ to their deaths in the original novel. Creating a deeper meaning of the true secret of the Reichenbach fall which was the fall of Mr Holmes in his adventures. This was Mr Holmes’s fall from glory and from the term detective as he solved his last case which led him to ultimate death. This is evident in the scene where Mr Holmes questions his choices in this final problem as he was slowly luring to the end of his story. Mr. Holmes kept searching for an answer to this case that held him trapped in Moriarty’s web of criminal activity. Mr Holmes committed suicide to save his friends, he was portrayed as a tragic hero because the ending caused death. Here, the technique of a tragic hero has heroic traits of one’s character as sympathy is gained by the audience as they fall in love with Mr Holmes saving the day once more but ultimately led him to his “fall” the true meaning of the Reichenbach fall. This creates the audience to see his heroic actions to save the detective world from Moriarty, his reckless passion in love to the detective world makes him a mesmerizing character. Therefore, it is evident that Mr. Holmes was the true meaning of the Reichenbach fall as his fall from glory had ended through another criminal case to be solved, and through this, he defeated the criminal of all evil committed. The twist in this plot is that Moriarty’s ‘real name’ Richard Brooke in German means Reichenbach this creates a double meaning of the title and another plot twist created by Mr Holmes himself.

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The episode cleverly provides an alternate perspective of Sherlock through a complex discussion of the ‘truth’, which is particularly relevant for a postmodern context of understanding the real truth of Mr. Holme’s reputation and creation of Moriarty. This is evident in the scene where Mr. Holmes didn’t look at the possibility of escaping his trap of Moriarty but his ideal focus was morally on what has been exposed about his life, the real truth is what lead him to his own death. The truth of Moriarty was the ultimate destruction of his career and his life. Here, the technique of denouement is used as it creates a final section of a stories plot, in which loose ends are tied up, lingering questions, in this case, Mr. Holme’s death was a denouement as no one found the body as assumed to be dead due to his letter but his character traits would say he’s hiding but the construction truth of his death was the reason that led to him to his death which was the truth about the creation of Moriarty being exposed to the world. This creates a construction of truth as the lies build up to create a whole life of lies and evil being connected to the ‘hero’ himself. Therefore, it is evident that Mr. Holme’s death was because of his reputation being burned to the ground due to the creation of Moriarty.

Perhaps the most significant diversion from the text is the characterization of Moriarty who is characterized to be an intelligently cunning criminal genius. The characterisation of Moriarty is mirrored through Mr Holme’s mind and how he thinks as they’re both portrayed to be equally smart having the ability to be mind readers and very observant. This is evident in the scene where Moriarty and Mr Holmes unite before both of their deaths when they cross paths Moriarty says “You and I are just the same” This quote goes into further depth of the true meaning of being the ‘same’ showing these two intellectual minds have the same dangerous traits and abilities. Here, the technique of imagery is used to show the features of Moriarty, the way he acts, dressed, and traps. It is used to show that Moriarty and Mr. Holmes are alike in their actions, the way Moriarty dresses formally in long coats even the way they dress it’s similar like they’re almost brothers. This creates similarities between Moriarty and Mr Holmes as they’re mirroring each through the way they dress, act intellectually and their reputation falling from glory. Therefore, it is evident that Moriarty and Mr. Holmes are similar in their intellectual powers of mind-reading and how they’re mirroring each other leading them both to their deaths.

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Critical Essay on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Moriarty.
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Critical Essay on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Moriarty [Internet]. Edubirdie.
2023 Nov 21 [cited 2024 Jan 19].
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