Memento: Sherlock Holmes and Musgrave Ritual Essay

Submitted By buchergb
Words: 2754
Pages: 12

Emotions Always Find a Way In

Mysteries are written to give the audience a thrill. With plot twists and hidden the protagonist, Lenny, is investigating so that he can track down the killer and take revenge for his wife’s death. He has been an investigator his whole life, and reminds the audience he is quite good at it. Another famous mystery is the series of Sherlock Holmes, a hired detective who typically strings together seemingly useless information to save the day, much to the surprise of his associate Watson. However, in Memento and the Sherlock Holmes stories “The Musgrave Ritual” and “The Adventure of a Scandal in Bohemia”, neither Lenny nor Holmes is able to fully solve their cases. In both cases, irrational thinking and misinterpretation hinder the detective. For Lenny, these errors are seen with Natalie and Sammy Jankis’s wife, along with his emotions convincing him to believe Teddy is lying at the end of the movie. These situations force Lenny to mistake Teddy as the killer. With Holmes, his inability to put aside gender roles in his mind causes him to get outplayed in the Bohemian scandal. In both texts, therefore, there are detectives who attempt to solve cases based only on facts, and yet are unable to set their emotions aside. Furthermore, these examples serve as a reminder that emotions guide individuals to mistakes, and yet can never be eliminated from a situation. Both Lenny and Holmes have distinct patterns to solving cases, which involve eliminating emotional ties, and solving crimes based off facts. For Lenny, due to his condition, he must create a system where he knows the people he can trust. The photographs and the notes serve as reminders of things that are “facts”. From his investigating of insurance, Lenny seems to have a pretty good idea of what to and what not to believe when reading a person. He has signals to indicate lying and what he refers to as “bad acting” (27:14). He must go off only facts because he feels “memory is unreliable, it can be distorted” (23:12). He refers to “cops don’t sit around trying to remember stuff, they collect facts” (23:00) and that he is no different. This means no emotional ties, no playing of favorites, just facts. For Sherlock, he investigates in a similar fashion. He starts by understanding the people involved and categorizing their abilities, as seen in “The Musgrave Ritual” where he considers Brunton to be equal to Holmes in knowledge, though they had never met. Holmes refuses to believe things are coincidence, and that Brunton looking for the ritual or Irene getting married during the scandal are part of “some common thread upon which (the events) might all hang” (Doyle, 357). He also prides himself on the facts, a “sketched out…long chain of surmise and of proof which I had constructed” (Doyle, 361). He makes sure that his assumptions are accurate before calling them facts, as seen in “The Musgrave Ritual” where he asks if Brunton desired to know the height of the tree. By knowing Brunton’s previous actions, he can comprehend his motives. Both Lenny and Holmes have an established mindset to rely on facts to solve crimes. All other factors intrude upon the investigation. This method of thinking must be remembered when determining how these men failed to solve their cases.
It is important to remember that there are instances where the situation, rather than emotion, prevents the detective from solving the case. The first time in Memento we see Lenny misinterpret a situation is when Natalie tricks Lenny into believing Dodd has hurt her. Upon seeing her bruises, Lenny is compelled to bring revenge for Natalie just as he wishes to bring revenge for his wife. He is unaware of the scene after this, however, where the audience discovers that it was Lenny who gave those bruises to Natalie after she forced him to become outraged at her filthy portrayal of Lenny’s wife. It is clear that Natalie has used Lenny’s condition to her…