The Hound of the Baskervilles is a detective story written by Conan Doyle, and it stars the most famous fiction detective character, Sherlock Holmes. Detective novels feature a conflict and contest between law and order, which is symbolised by the detective, and unlawful and disorder, symbolised by the criminal. Justice usually prevails at the end of a detective story, when the detective works out who the criminal is, and captures him/her. This shows the reader that wrongdoing can be overcome, and reassures the reader morally, and socially, that they are safe.
Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes is very important to the Detective story genre. In many detective stories, they have copied Conan Doyle buy having; a brilliant detective with his not as intelligent sidekick, to assist his missions. The private detective is always a lot sharper than the slow-thinking policemen. The stories usually have red hearings, which lead he reader into thinking that they know whom the criminal reader, but are always wrong when the detective captures the true criminal. Every novel consists of characters, plot and setting, with setting not playing a great deal of a part in short stories.
Conan Doyle’s detective stories focus on the main character, Holmes, the plot, and the puzzle of identifying the criminal. The plot is dialogue driven, as the plot is advanced through dialogue between characters. Puzzles were very popular during the time Sherlock Holmes books were released, resulting in a high popularity of the series. Another reason why the series was so popular is because there were always hints of supernatural life and horror in the novels, and people were fascinated with this. Sherlock Holmes lives in Baker Street, which is one of the wealthiest, and best places to live in London.
London being the top city in the times of Sherlock Holmes, gives him prestige to live there. The setting in the Hound of the Baskervilles gives a geographical and physical context to the events, and atmosphere in the plot. Holmes and his assistant are part of the setting in the novel, as they bring a part of London wherever they go. The three main settings in this novel are 221B Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes, Baskerville Hall, and Dartmoor. I will be discussing how these settings are presented to readers, and what sort of atmosphere they uphold.
I will be mainly concentrating on Baskerville Hall, and the countryside of Dartmoor. Mainly Dr Watson, who accompanied Henry Baskerville to his new home, describes the setting in this story. The introduction of Dartmoor was a positive one, “like some fantastic landscape in a dream”, but later Watson contemplated the situation, and hinted menace to the reader, “forbidding moor”, suggesting the moor may be sinister. He also mentioned it would be a “dangerous quest” if a venture occurred on the moor. When Henry Baskerville walked upon the moor, “soldierly men” with “rifles” glanced at them.
The military soldiers suggest potential violence. This prepares the reader for further events in the play. Baskerville later on meets a “hard-faced gnarled” fellow. Hard-faced, and gnarled has connotations of menace, and therefore the atmosphere becomes menacing to the reader. Dartmoor is described as having a “gloomy curve”, with “jagged, and sinister hills”. These adjectives have connotations of depression, and not anything being smooth, as if something is wrong. This description darkens the atmosphere, and prepares the audience for bad forthcoming events, which makes the reader feel a menacing atmosphere.