Lifestyle of a Detective: a Compromise with the Reality?
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The world of a detective is very different from the world of the rest of mankind. Detectives have very complicated work of finding the truth and uncovering mysteries. In most cases, these mysteries are hidden from the eyes of the typical citizens. Therefore, detectives are people who take a different approach towards the events in real life and perceive the reality in a different way.
Detectives are usually happy about the world. Most detectives we see in the movies have a little degree of indifference towards people. Agatha Christie describes her characters as content and calm, but rather positive ones. However, Chandler describes in his novel how grumpy was Marlowe all the time. It seems like the little positive life moments do not touch him anymore. He does not use this situation, for instance, in the episode at the book store when he definitely recognizes a lovely woman being next to him, On the contrary, just as he sees the person he has been waiting for, he quickly leaves, leaving a surprised woman in the book store. It can be noticed that the detective lives alone and does not have real relationships in his life. The only ones Marlowe has developed so far are related to his daily activity of a detective. Usually, all the conversations he has with people are also about work. This can be related to other detectives as well. Arthur Conan Doyle presents his Sherlock Holmes as a person who talks about various work issues and situations most of the time. However, detectives have this common feature of focusing on work issues more than on their personal and social lives.
Social life is very limited for Marlowe. Looking at his attempts to feel himself at home in every place he visits, one can notice a little uncertainty in his appearance. He likes to be needed, and this is the only thing that keeps him moving on. Being excited about new unsolved mysteries, Marlowe has his own agenda of being a part of society: he knows he is able to influence other people and has some degree of power over life events. Due to the specifics of his daily job, Marlowe can change the lives of other common citizens with the help of results of his findings.
For this reason, the character of Marlowe spends all his life in the difficult settings and in constant danger. Detective story is usually very sad, and it seems like the society has sacrificed the happiness of these people for the higher purpose of helping the rest of mankind. Just like soldiers, detectives fight for the better world every day. Therefore, it is obvious that they are completely out of the sight of common life pleasures.
For most of the detectives, the code of conduct is different. Some of them stick to the rules of society and behave like real gentlemen. This happens to the characters of Agatha Christie books. However, the state of being far beyond common life pleasures has influenced the work perception of Marlowe. Despite the fact that Marlowe seems to be a gentleman, he is not gentleman at all. We start to see this right in the first minutes of the movie when he is being a little arrogant to the older daughter of his client, Vivian. For no reason, and driven by his own agenda of not listening to her, he makes it clear that he does not like her at all and thinks she is not a woman with high moral values. This is something that is noticed about the detective throughout the movie. In the book, his phrases are sometimes lacking trustworthiness. When reading the book and watching the detective talk, it is hard to believe he does not have his own hidden agenda. Everything around him seems very mysterious and quite fragile.
Detective stories are also mysterious. Looking at the pictures and characters of the famous detectives worldwide like Sherlock Holmes, Colombo, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple, we see a different style of work. All of them have their own gestures, mimics, and unique way of building a logical chain of events which leads them to solving the mystery. Marlowe usually touches his right ear when he is about to ask his mind about something he needs to know. Usually after he does that, he comes to some sort of conclusion. Therefore, the world in which each detective is working is very different, and it sets standards for his behavior too.
Marlowe has a very interesting attitude to women which is quite standard for a detective. He seems to ignore the feelings of passion and affection. Marlowe enjoys being the man who is capable of not being attracted to women. In my opinion, Marlowe feels proud that Vivian likes him and wants him to kiss her, but he keeps on being a man without any feelings. Despite the fact that Vivian kisses him back, Marlowe still does not pay any attention to the fact that he could have used this situation.
Eventually, besides women and pleasures of life, Marlowe does not allow himself to become tempted by anything. In the book, he sips alcohol with caution. He always looks at people with caution. It can even be suggested that he does not trust anyone in his life. He looks in the eyes of all people around him, and the only things he sees are the information, reaction and body language – everything that describes him what the individual really feels and says. He is used to be deceived by other people; therefore, Marlowe never allows himself to take someone’s judgments as truth and does not trust anyone.
Being a detective is more than just being a typical individual. It is a job of constantly remaining on track, not being able to relax in any moment of life (British Columbia Ministry of Justice). Without a doubt, it presumes always having a certain degree of doubt about everything individuals are saying. It is true that detectives like Marlowe never have any social life because they cannot trust anyone. Therefore, Marlowe can never completely be true and sincere to someone in his life.
This is a choice to make for any detective. Reality is very different for them, and they have to find a sort of compromise in their lives in order to remain always in shape. During the movie, we see Marlowe always looking at the events without any logical explanation. What we assume is true, Marlowe does not trust. Then we see that what we thought was true is not true at all. And at this point we start understanding what a detective’s world looks like, and how it functions.
Being a detective means being cautious, not trusting people, always assuming someone might have his own agenda. Most of their lifetime detectives spend with people who are not honest, who kill and who are not the best representatives of the society. This changes their psychological mindset a lot. Instead of being warm and open-hearted with the rest of the world, detectives are always the same with all the people, even with the librarian who occasionally asks some questions. Marlowe is always looking for suspects and tends to find them even when we are sure these people say the truth.
Perhaps, this is a very special gift or talent that detectives have: this very special “smell” of truth and lies. Marlowe has it in his mind, and he is always ready to demonstrate his thoughts to the world. We cannot say that his methods are moral or that they describe the detective in the best way, but Marlowe does his job quite well. He is efficient in solving mysteries and murders. He is also very efficient in protecting people he thinks are needed, not that he really cares for anyone in his life.
The detective business is thinking logically. When we see any detective working, we may notice that he is not only thinking, but writing some papers. In the book, Chandler clearly describes that Marlowe is not just writing something, he quite often writes his thoughts in order to draw a line of logical connection between people and events.
In some cases, it is hard to notice how people are related at once. Therefore, Marlowe takes his time to think and writes notes about the personalities he needs to explore in order to solve the mystery or case. Most detectives use mind mapping to study the case (Sahni). Hawks does not stop much on the episodes where Marlowe is writing, he only shows that detectives have work to do beside the daily activity of visiting places and talking to people in the context of the case solving.
Finally, Campbell describes detective business as an old-fashioned method of work and something that is not popular in the modern society. However, when looking at Marlowe and other detectives described in books and movies, it is difficult to believe that people like him do not exist anymore. We are not just paying attention to them. Despite the fact that Chandler’s description of Marlowe is different from the movie, in my opinion, Bogart is just what the detective should look like. The appearance of a detective is also typical and related to his everyday activity.
As seen from the movie, Marlowe is not very handsome; he is not very tall and generally looks like a middle class individual. For most detectives, there is this common feature of remaining unnoticed. Subsequently, the clothes that Marlowe wears are usually black. He does not seem to be a fashionable person. He does not like something extraordinary, too.
Marlowe drinks what others drink (mostly whiskey) and does what others do. He even intends to smoke like the majority of other people, so that they do not get caught by the fact that he is a detective. However, due to the fact that he is quite arrogant, people usually find out about his daily activity.
Marlowe talks in a very calm and plain tone of voice. His dialogues let us see that the detective is not reacting on anything. All the emotions that Marlowe might have as an individual are hidden inside and not seen by the rest of the world. Finally, this is the compromise he makes with reality: for the power to influence people’s lives and solve mysterious cases, detectives simply have to make this sacrifice.
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