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Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
The motif of relationships, both romantic and platonic, repeats again and again in "A Scandal in Bohemia." The story begins with Watson's description of Holmes's feelings for Adler, followed quickly by an explanation of why relationships are so dangerous for Holmes. Since his chief purpose is logical reasoning, Holmes has no mental capacity for the distraction of romantic feelings. Next, Watson talks about how much his own life has improved since he married his wife. While Watson claims to have no time for Holmes now that he has a wife, he can't stop thinking about his old friend, which is how he ends up at Holmes's apartment on the same night as the King of Bohemia. The King brings two more relationships into the story: his past relationship with Adler and his upcoming marriage to a Scandinavian princess. Adler herself simultaneously doesn't want to let go of her relationship with the King, claims to be madly in love with her fiancé, and has a fascination with Holmes. Every character must choose where to focus their attention. Since Holmes values intellect, relationships that appeal to the mind are the most valuable and authentic, such as his and Watson's friendship. Relationships based on romance, like Watson and his wife or Norton and Adler, are next in the hierarchy. Finally, transactional relationships, like the King and his fiancée, are the least important.