Moor That Baskerville Hall

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Detective fiction

Published April, 1902

Protagonists:

Sherlock Holmes - Who is a famed London detective that takes only hard facts rather than chance in every one of his cases. Known for his trademark hat and pipe.

Dr. Watson - The sidekick and apprentice to Sherlock Holmes. Acts as a foil for Holmes genius and a stand-up for the audience.

Antagonist:

Mr. Jack Stapleton - A thin, bookish looking entomologist who strikes strangers as an oddball and very eccentric. Seemingly kind and harmless but reveals that he has a short, nasty temper.

The story begins with a stranger known as Dr. Mortimer seeking assistance from Sherlock Holmes and his apprentice, Dr. Watson. Mortimer explains to both of them the situation occurring at Baskerville Hall and how its second to last blood, Sir Charles, has mysteriously died. Mortimer then tells them the old curse that has supposedly haunted the Baskerville bloodline for generations of how a fiendish Hound born from hell itself lurks the moor that Baskerville Hall sits. Mysterious deaths have followed most of the Baskerville family which have led locals to believe in this legend. Mortimer, being a close friend of Sir Charles, seeks out advice from Holmes and Watson on what he should do with the last blood, Sir Henry, who was arriving to the estate in place of his uncle. The story peaked Holmes’s interests and led him to carry on with the case, having Watson take his place. Among the moor on the outskirts of the estate, lived folk having relations with Sir Charles. The detectives are sure to talk to every one of them and soon find that the seemingly kind and eccentric man called Jack Stapleton was not as innocent as he led on to be.

Themes:

Natural and supernatural; truth and fantasy

Greed is a powerful motivator

We cannot be ruled by our fears

Symbolism:

The Mire: Jack Stapleton introduces the bog called Grimpen Mire. He explains how the ground is deeply unstable to Dr. Watson, as they see a pony trying to escape from the bog and getting pulled under. Symbolically, this mire is a place that literally holds you back. It represents that the general idea is that Dartmoor and Baskerville Hall are “stuck” in an older era of British history. Stapleton himself even gets dragged down into the bog which represents a “throwback” to Hugo Baskerville, the one who began the curse.

The Hound: Not only does the Baskerville family have the curse of the hound, but the Barrymores who have lived with the family for generations also have a hound of their own. Selden, an escaped criminal known throughout England and brother to Mrs. Eliza Barrymore had been hiding from police among the more with the undercover help of his family. Just like the hound, Selden is dead by the end of the story.

The Moor: The surrounding of the moor contributes to the whole atmosphere of the story, gloom and doom. Without the moor, it would take away much of the setting and mood of the story. Not only does it affect the mood of the story, but it also lends itself to the plot, providing sufficient hiding places for many including the Hound, Holmes, and Selden.

Family Portraits: The portrait of Hugo Baskerville enables Holms to figure out the motive symbolizes the connection between past and present. Baskerville hall has more modern traditions attached to older ones as well, and on the moor, there are man-made huts from the Neolithic period. The family portraits are also representative of the Baskerville inheritance.

“And so it was arranged. Resisting Stapleton’s offer of hospitality, Holmes and I set off to Baskerville Hall, leaving the naturalist to return alone. Looking back we saw the figure moving slowly away over the broad moor, and behind him that one black smudge on the silvered slope which showed where the man was lying who had come so horribly to his end” (Doyle 196). This passage comes after the sudden death of Selden among the moor. Dr. Watson had just discovered Holmes living in secrecy among the old Neolithic huts when they heard terrible screams of an unknown man and the hound off in the distance. They came to discover a mangled body who they had thought to be Sir Henry. Both Holmes and Watson were in despair of their seemingly failed mission and their lost friend before they had realized the true identity of the poor man who was actually Selden.

During their realization came a dark figure, Jack Stapleton. He strolled calmly to the body, cigar in mouth, before realizing Holmes and Watson were there as well. Stapleton then acted astonished to see the poor fate of who he as well thought to be Sir Henry, but as he hurried to the body and turned it over, he gasped and let his cigar fall from his mouth. He stammered, asking who the dead man was and was answered with the most undesirable response. Stapleton played off the scene as if it were a horrible incident.Because of his reactions to Seldens death, we the audience, can figure Stapleton as being the murderer. This is a huge scene in the story because it is no longer a mystery and becomes a match of wits between Holmes and Stapleton.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, in my opinion, was a very well written and captivating story. It is now on my list of personal favorites. The reason I chose to read this book was because I have never read a Sherlock Holmes novel before and he is arguably the “most portrayed movie character” in history. I also recall this book being mentioned in one of my childhood favorites The Pagemaster so I was immediately inclined to choosing it. I am very glad I read this book, I enjoy crime/mystery novels the most. I introduced myself to a new series I’ll have to get my nose into.

I enjoyed how old fashioned and formal the book was written, considering it was written in the Victorian era. The book was narrated in Dr. Watson’s perspective, which I believe is the best. I liked seeing someone else’s perspective on the main character, Sherlock Holmes, and another perspective on the events unravelling in the story. My vocabulary definitely increased a bit, I had to find the definitions of a few words. I had no idea what a moor even was, and that’s important to know since it’s the main setting of the story.

Sherlock Holmes is a very extravagant and unpredictable character. He seemed to always have a new trick up his sleeve all throughout the book. He even had his partner, Dr. Watson, amazed all throughout their case. Holmes is extremely intelligent and a master of deductive reasoning so overall a very engaging character. He is the sort of character every aspiring detective would like to become.

The story was even nail-biting at times and had me nervous. Usually I can predict what is going to happen in a crime/mystery novel but The Hound of the Baskervilles had my brain going every which way. It was never boring and there was always a focal point on some new break no matter how big or small. I was confused to if there really was going to be a supernatural quality to this book or not. Of course, I am not Holmes and cannot deduct fact from fiction as well as he can.

I picked up this book and just couldn’t get enough of it. I had to know what was happening next, I suppose that’s why I finished it in one day. Even in the beginning of the story it intrigues you to keep reading. This is definitely not a book that starts off slow, Doyle gets right into the plot. So if you are someone that has a hard time staying interested in a book, I recommend to you this one. This is a very descriptive and visual book making it easy to imagine yourself in their place. It absorbed me even more so into the story and has persuaded me to read the rest of the Sherlock Holmes series.