The Hound of The Baskervilles: An Essay

The story of the Hound of the Baskervilles is an intriguing story about Sherlock Holmes and his ever present sidekick Watson taking on a family curse for Sir Henry Baskerville, the new baronet at Baskerville Hall. This novel features many classic mystery story aspects including an isolated setting and a detective with extraordinary reasoning powers. These key aspects are what make this novel such an intriguing read.

To begin with, detective novels first began with Edgar Allen Poe and his book, The Murders in Rue Morgue in 1841 (Collins). This began a surge of detective novels called dime novels or throwaway publications: cheaply produced publications designed to be quick and easy to read (Collins). Sherlock Holmes first appeared in A Study in Scarlet published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887 (Collins). This began what can be described as no less than a fascination with Sherlock Holmes by the public. The author that created Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, became disenchanted and bored with Sherlock Holmes in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes and killed him in a final fight with a criminal mastermind. The public was so outraged by this that some people took to wearing black armbands in the streets (Collins).

One of the aspects of Sherlock Holmes novels, especially The Hound of the Baskervilles was the isolated setting. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, the main setting is Baskerville Hall, the ancestral home of the Baskervilles. According to a family manuscript, a great hell hound with fiery eyes has terrorized the family for generations due to Hugo Baskerville’s terrible doings. According to Mortimer, “it is a statement of a certain legend which runs in the Baskerville family” (Doyle 14). This legend is the focal point of the entire mystery. The hound mentioned in the manuscript is believed to be the one that scared Sir Charles to death. Also according to Mortimer, “The facts of the case are simple… Sir Charles Baskerville was in the habit every night before going to bed of walking down the famous Yew Alley of Baskerville Hall” (Doyle 23). The reader is later informed that the Yew Alley is an isolated walkway surrounded on both sides by yew trees. This isolated setting is the scene of the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville that began the story. The story also has a detective with extraordinary reasoning powers.

Sherlock Holmes is no ordinary detective. He is a deeply thoughtful detective who prefers to be absolutely certain he is right before making a move and presenting a case. When asked what his plans are, he does not reveal everything at once, but rather, “he was exceedingly loath to communicate his full plans to any other person until the instant of their fulfillment” (Doyle 243). It was in this way that he was able to maintain control of the situation, even in the face of danger. He also was able to glean important information from seemingly nothing. In the beginning of the story, someone leaves a walking stick at Sherlock Holmes home. At first, there seems to be nothing telling about the stick. He describes, based on the walking stick, “a young fellow under thirty, amiable, unambitious, absent-minded, and the possessor of a favorite dog, which I should describe roughly as being larger than a terrier and smaller than a mastiff” (Doyle 7). This turns out to be the Dr. Mortimer, who brings them the tale of the Hound of the Baskervilles. This is the moment that sets the story into motion.

In conclusion, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a very intriguing read. It shows how a family story can be essentially brought back into the light and used to prey upon that family. This story is a prime example of Victorian mystery genre. The isolated setting and detective with extraordinary reasoning powers set this apart as one of the greatest Victorian mystery novels of all time.

Works Cited

Collins, R.D. “History of Detective Fiction.” N.p. n.d. Web. 28 February 2013.

Dolye, Arthur Conan. “Hound of the Baskervilles.” Web. 28 February 2013.

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