What does the novel tell us about the English society and the ways of life in the late 19th century? Refer to lifestyles of main characters, place of servants, role of women, contemporary morality and details of everyday life. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1902. The novel was written in the early Edwardian age shortly after the Queen Victoria reign had ended (1837-1901). However the book reflects the late Victorian society instead. In this Victorian Era class status was an extremely important issue and it caused a great division between the people of this time.
‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ emphasises these differences including the variation in lifestyles, places and roles of women and servants, the morality and details of everyday life. The community was divided in three ways; upper, middle and lower class. The upper class were extremely well-educated, intelligent, always well-dressed and had excellent manners. Their wealthy and professional careers allowed them to own servants and lead their own lifestyles. middle class citizens were in between the classes.
They didn’t own servants/mansions nor always have the wealthiest careers however they were not servants and didn’t have to work in the worst paid factories nor warehouses. The lower class people had to work long hours, were uneducated (as youngsters begun work as soon as possible), worked in bad conditions and had poor pay. In some cases they couldn’t afford houses and so lived on streets, if they were lucky and lived in a house then this would be overcrowded and sometimes included several generations in one tiny room.
Sherlock Holmes is an upper class citizen and has a highly well paid job as a detective. He lives in London, is extremely well-educated and intelligent and leads a life of luxury. Regular jobs meant that men had to work in a routine however Watson (Holmes’s companion) tells readers that in the morning he is “usually very late” which suggests that as an upper class man his lifestyle is one of leisure and he is the boss in his career. Another comment of Watson which suggests that Holmes lives his life as he chooses is that Holmes would “never allow cases to overlap”.
This means that he will finish one case before he starts another. This also proposes that he can afford to work when he wants and doesn’t need to rely on a regular job, therefore he seems to have a private income. Working only when he wants to is usual for those of his class in that period. His education and intelligence is seen once again when Holmes talks about ‘The Times’ newspaper “which is seldom found in any hands but those of the highly educated”.
As this paper includes financial and educational articles, this paper can only be appropriate for those in upper class which includes Sherlock Holmes. He has a servant named Cartwright who runs errands for him and Holmes frequently asks for items to be fetched for him “send up a pound of the strongest shag tobacco” and “I sent down to Stanford’s for the Ordnance map” as an upper Class man this is everyday life. His appearance also matters a great deal to him and this can be noted when Sherlock is staying on the moor that he is dressed “as perfect as if he were in Baker Street”.