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The Hound of the Baskervilles

By rajatreader Nov 17, 2013 2497 Words
English Book Review

On

The Hound of the Baskervilles

2013-2014

Done By:

Gaurav Dokania

XI-“D”

1149

Acknowledgement

I would sincerely like to thank Mrs. Mini James, My English teacher as well as our principal Mrs. Geetha Balachander for giving me this opportunity to make this review on the book The Hound of the Baskervilles.

I would also like to thank my parents for giving me the time, moral support and financial assistance to make this review a success. Without their assistance this review would not have been possible.

I would also like to thank Mr. Bill Gates for the use of his Microsoft Word without which this review could never be made.

Thank You.

Contents

About The Author

Characters

Protagonist

Plot

Sub-Plots

Theme

Style

Relevance of Contemporary Time

Source of Info

Bibliography

About The Author

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, was born in England but of Irish descent, and his mother, born Mary Foley, was Irish. In 1864 the family dispersed due to Charles's growing alcoholism and the children were temporarily housed across Edinburgh. In 1867, the family came together again and lived in squalid tenement flats at 3 Sciennes Place. Arthur Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, was taken by Ward Lock & Co on 20 November 1886, giving Doyle 25 pounds for all rights to the story. The piece appeared later that year in the Beeton's Christmas Annual and received good reviews in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald. The story featured the first appearance of Watson and Sherlock Holmes, partially modelled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell.

However it has to be agreed upon that The Sherlock Holmes series was by far the best set of novels that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. The introduction of Sherlock Holmes caused quite a stir around the world as Arthur’s keen sense of humour coupled with his thirst for a mystery inflamed the minds of many people across the globe.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is yet another addition to the Sherlock Holmes series which gained popularity with every passing year

Characters

Sherlock Holmes: The novel's protagonist. Holmes is the famed 221b Baker Street detective with a keen eye, hawked nose, and the trademark hat and pipe. Holmes is observation and intuition personified, and though he takes a bit of a back seat to Watson in this story, we always feel his presence. It takes his legendary powers to decipher the mystifying threads of the case.

Dr.Watson: The novel's other protagonist and narrator. Dr. Watson is the stout sidekick to Holmes and longtime chronicler of the detective's adventures. In Hound, Watson tries his hand at Holmes' game, expressing his eagerness to please and impress the master by solving such a baffling case. As sidekick and apprentice to Holmes, Watson acts as a foil for Holmes' genius and as a stand-in for us, the awestruck audience.

Sir Henry Baskerville: The late Sir Charles's nephew and closet living relative. Sir Henry is hale and hearty, described as "a small, alert, dark-eyed man about thirty years of age, very sturdily built." By the end of the story, Henry is as worn out and shell-shocked as his late uncle was before his death.

Sir Charles Baskerville: The head of the Baskerville estate. Sir Charles was a superstitious man, and terrified of the Baskerville curse and his waning health at the time of his death. Sir Charles was also a well-known philanthropist, and his plans to invest in the regions surrounding his estate make it essential that Sir Henry move to Baskerville Hall to continue his uncle's good works.

Sir Hugo Baskerville: A debaucherous and shadowy Baskerville ancestor, Sir Hugo is the picture of aristocratic excess, drinking and pursuing pleasures of the flesh until it killed him. Mortimer: Family friend and doctor to the Baskervilles. Mortimer is a tall, thin man who dresses sloppily but is an all-around nice guy and the executor of Charles's estate.

Mr. Jack Stapleton: A thin and bookish-looking entomologist and one-time schoolmaster, Stapleton chases butterflies and reveals his short temper only at key moments. A calm façade masks the scheming, manipulative villain that Holmes and Watson come to respect and fear.

Miss Stapleton: Allegedly Stapleton's sister, this dusky Latin beauty turns out to be his wife. Eager to prevent another death but terrified of her husband, she provides enigmatic warnings to Sir Henry and Watson.

Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore: The longtime domestic help of the Baskerville clan. Earnest and eager to please, the portly Mrs. Barrymore and her gaunt husband figure as a kind of red herring for the detectives, in league with their convict brother but ultimately no more suspicious than Sir Henry.

Laura Lyons: A local young woman. Laura Lyons is the beautiful brunette daughter of "Frankland the crank," the local litigator who disowned her when she married against his will. Subsequently abandoned by her husband, the credulous Laura turns to Mr. Stapleton and Charles for help.

The Convict: A murderous villain, whose crimes defy description. The convict is nonetheless humanized by his association with the Barrymores. He has a rodent-like, haggardly appearance. His only wish is to flee his persecutors in Devonshire and escape to South America.

Mr. Frankland: Laura's father. Frankland is a man who likes to sue, a sort of comic relief with a chip on his shoulder about every infringement on what he sees as his rights. Villainized due to his one-time harsh treatment of Laura, Frankland is for the most part a laughable jester in the context of this story.

Protagonist

Sherlock Holmes is the main protagonist of the book- The Hound of the Baskervilles. Using his wits and crime-solving mind he tries his best to solve the mystery. Along with his faithful partner Dr. Watson , Holmes sets out for Devonshire where he learns about the death of Sir Charles Baskerville.

The entire focus of the story is thoroughly upon Holmes as he uses his amazing detective skills to help solve the mystery of Baskerville Estate

Then a series of mysteries arrive in rapid succession: Barrymore is caught skulking around the mansion at night; Watson spies a lonely figure keeping watch over the moors; and the doctor hears what sounds like a dog's howling. Beryl Stapleton provides an enigmatic warning and Watson learns of a secret encounter between Sir Charles and a local woman named Laura Lyons on the night of his death.

Now it is up to Holmes to unravel the mystery and get his facts straight . In a dramatic final scene, Holmes and Watson use the younger Baskerville as bait to catch Stapleton red-handed. After a late supper at the Stapletons', Sir Henry heads home across the moors, only to be waylaid by the enormous Stapleton pet. Despite a dense fog, Holmes and Watson are able to subdue the beast, and Stapleton, in his panicked flight from the scene, drowns in a marshland on the moors. Beryl Stapleton, who turns out to be Jack's harried wife and not his sister, is discovered tied up in his house, having refused to participate in his dastardly scheme.

Thereby Holmes solves the mystery of the Baskerville Estate and is showered with praises thereafter.

Plot

The Hound of the Baskervilles opens with a mini mystery—Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson speculate on the identity of the owner of a cane that has been left in their office by an unknown visitor. Wowing Watson with his fabulous powers of observation, Holmes predicts the appearance of James Mortimer, owner of the found object and a convenient entrée into the baffling curse of the Baskervilles.

Entering the office and unveiling an 18th century manuscript, Mortimer recounts the myth of the lecherous Hugo Baskerville. Hugo captured and imprisoned a young country lass at his estate in Devonshire, only to fall victim to a marauding hound of hell as he pursued her along the lonesome moors late one night. Ever since, Mortimer reports, the Baskerville line has been plagued by a mysterious and supernatural black hound. The recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville has rekindled suspicions and fears.

The next of kin, the duo finds out, has arrived in London to take up his post at Baskerville Hall, but he has already been intimidated by an anonymous note of warning and, strangely enough, the theft of a shoe.

Agreeing to take the case, Holmes and Watson quickly discover that Sir Henry Baskerville is being trailed in London by a mysterious bearded stranger, and they speculate as to whether the ghost be friend or foe. Holmes, however, announces that he is too busy in London to accompany Mortimer and Sir Henry to Devonshire to get to the bottom of the case, and he sends Dr. Watson to be his eyes and ears, insisting that he report back regularly.

Once in Devonshire, Watson discovers a state of emergency, with armed guards on the watch for an escaped convict roaming the moors. He meets potential suspects in Mr. Barrymore and Mrs. Barrymore, the domestic help, and Mr. Jack Stapleton and his sister Beryl, Baskerville neighbors.

A series of mysteries arrive in rapid succession: Barrymore is caught skulking around the mansion at night; Watson spies a lonely figure keeping watch over the moors; and the doctor hears what sounds like a dog's howling. Beryl Stapleton provides an enigmatic warning and Watson learns of a secret encounter between Sir Charles and a local woman named Laura Lyons on the night of his death.

Doing his best to unravel these threads of the mystery, Watson discovers that Barrymore's nightly jaunts are just his attempt to aid the escaped con, who turns out to be Mrs. Barrymore's brother. The doctor interviews Laura Lyons to assess her involvement, and discovers that the lonely figure surveying the moors is none other than Sherlock Holmes himself. It takes Holmes—hidden so as not to tip off the villain as to his involvement—to piece together the mystery.

In a dramatic final scene, Holmes and Watson use the younger Baskerville as bait to catch Stapleton red-handed. After a late supper at the Stapletons', Sir Henry heads home across the moors, only to be waylaid by the enormous Stapleton pet.

Despite a dense fog, Holmes and Watson are able to subdue the beast, and Stapleton, in his panicked flight from the scene, drowns in a marshland on the moors. Beryl Stapleton, who turns out to be Jack's harried wife and not his sister, is discovered tied up in his house, having refused to participate in his dastardly scheme.

Theme

The theme of the story is Natural as well as Supernatural. It is based on truth as well as fantasy.

From Holmes' point of view, every set of clues points toward a logical, real- world solution. Considering the supernatural explanation, Holmes decides to consider all other options before falling back on that one. Sherlock Holmes personifies the intellectual's faith in logic, and on examining facts to find the answers.

In this sense, the story takes on the Gothic tradition, a brand of storytelling that highlights the bizarre and unexplained. Doyles' mysterious hound, an ancient family curse, even the ominous Baskerville Hall all set up a Gothic- style mystery that, in the end, will fall victim to Holmes' powerful logic.

Doyle's own faith in spiritualism, a doctrine of life after death and psychic powers, might at first seem to contradict a Sherlockian belief in logical solutions and real world answers. Holmes is probably based more on Doyle's scientific training than his belief system. But the struggle for understanding, the search for a coherent conception of the world we live in, links the spiritualist Doyle with his fictional counterpart. Throughout the novel, Holmes is able to come up with far-flung if ultimately true accounts of the world around him, much as his author strove for understanding in fiction and in fact.

Throughout the story allegations based on various superstitious beliefs are exposed to the reader , especially propagated by the common folk. Style

The story opens with the folk tale of the Baskerville curse, presented on eighteenth century parchment. The reproduction of the curse, both in the novel and in Mortimer's reading, serves to start the story off with a bang-a shadowy folk tale, nothing if not mysterious.

At the same time, it offers a nice contrast to Watson's straight-forward reporting, a style insisted upon by the master and one which will ultimately dispel any foolish belief in curses and hounds of hell.

A classic of the mystery or detective genre, the red herring throws us off the right trail. Much like the folk tale, it offers a too-easy answer to the question at hand, tempting us to take the bait and making fools of us if we do. In Hound, the largest red herring is the convict.

After all, who better to pin a murder on than a convicted murderer. Barrymore's late-night mischief turns out to be innocent, and the convicted murderer turns out to not be involved in the mysterious deaths.

Over and above Doyle uses a classical style with a mix of sarcasm and pure genius showcased by Holmes and Watson which is pleasing to read. The book also makes you pause for thought at some moments which have deep meaning.

Relevance With Regard to Time

The novel is based in the 19th century as it is 1889. This can be found out by the date on Mortimer’s walking stick that says 1884 , which was 5 years old

The late Victorian setting of The Hound of the Baskervilles is an orderly one. In it, each person has a role to fill, and when every role is suitably filled, society prospers. But the social order is endangered by those bent on its destruction, and the villains come in many disguises.

The opening scenes place Sherlock Holmes in the comfortable surroundings of his home at 22IB Baker Street in London. But quickly the action shifts to the dreary "Grippen Mire," a vast moor or bog-marsh area of England. This bleak and deserted wasteland provides a startling contrast to Holmes's refined London world. Reason seems to break down, and the atmosphere becomes eerie when it appears that a supernatural creature is responsible for the terrifying happenings on the moors.

Arthur Conan Doyle carefully recreates both the Baskerville family history and the outlying areas around Baskerville Hall in absolute perfection.

The old-age time setting has a positive appeal even today as it gives us an insight as to how it was like “In the old days”.

Source of Information

http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-hound-of-the-baskervilles/setting.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hound_of_the_Baskervilles

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Conan_Doyle#Writing_career

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/hound/summary.html

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/hound/themes.html

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/hound/facts.html

The Hound of the Baskervilles paperback copy.

acd henry
hugo
Charles mortimer
Watson Mr stapleton

Holmes

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