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MonkeyNotes Study Guide-Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS

The Hound

The hound that haunts the Baskerville family because a disreputable ancestor primarily represents Stapleton. He tracks down and kills his relatives, as a result of his ancestor, Rodger Baskerville (from whom he inherited not only a claim in the Baskerville line but also his personality).

The Barrymores have a hound of their own in a way in Selden the convict. Like the hound, he also lives out on the moor, has a wild appearance, a glow associated with him (candlelight instead of phosphorous), and is also dead by the end of the story.

Family Portraits

The family portrait of Hugo that enables Holmes to figure out the motive symbolizes the connection between past and present. The Hall itself has more modern additions attached to the old ones, and on the moor, there are huts from the time of Neolithic man not far from the houses of the people living now (at the time of the case).


It is also representative of the Baskerville inheritance. Aside from the estate and title, there is also the curse. Sir Charles, and Sir Henry to a slightly lesser extent, lived in fear of the hound, because they were descendents. Stapleton got his looks and personality from Hugo Baskerville as well as his father.

The Moor

The surrounding of the moor compliments the atmosphere of gloom and doom that permeates throughout the story; it would take away much to have the setting in a sunny, rolling field instead. Besides being essential to the mood, the moor also lends itself to the plot, providing sufficient hiding places for Holmes and the hound, and taking care of Stapleton.

Metals

Though perhaps not quite developed and clear enough to be considered a full symbol in the story, there is frequent mention of different metals. The best examples of this are tin and bronze mentioned in connection with Neolithic man, iron with Dr. Mortimer’s walking stick, and steel with Stapleton.

IMPORTANT / KEY FACTS SUMMARY

Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Date Published: in book form-1902 (serialized in The Strand in 1901)

Meaning of the Title: Refers to the Baskerville family legend; a giant hound killed the evil Hugo and is said to continue dooming the line. Stapleton, a Baskerville, owns a hound, which he uses to kill Sir Charles and make an attempt to do likewise to Sir Henry. Thus it could also refer to Stapleton as the family hound.

Setting: England-London and Devonshire (Baskerville Hall, Merripit House, Coombe Tracey, and out on the moor, including Grimpen Mire and the Neolithic dwellings)

Genre: mystery/ suspense

Protagonist: Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

Antagonist: Stapleton (previously known as Rodger Baskerville and Vandeleur)

Mood: grave (the characters’ attitudes) and dismal (the physical surroundings of the place)

Point of View: first person limited (all from Watson’s perspective)

Tense: past tense

Rising Action: It begins in London when Sir Henry receives the message warning him and has his boot stolen. When Holmes’s attempts at solving the case in London turn out to be dead-ends, they go out to the moor. Events there include meeting the neighbors, hearing the sound of the hound, the talks with Mrs. Lyons, the events surrounding the convict, and ends with Watson, Holmes, and Lestrade waiting for Sir Henry.

Exposition: The first three chapters when Dr. Mortimer visits and lays out the situation. It is here that we learn about the legend, the mysterious death of Sir Charles, and the issue of the safety of the arriving heir.

Climax: When the hound appears out of the fog in pursuit of Sir Henry.

Outcome: Holmes shoots the hound to death. They are unable to find Stapleton, who likely ended up in one of the bogs just off the path and, unable to free himself, died.

Major Theme: solving a murder and preventing another (could be expanded to be protecting good from evil)

Minor Themes: corruption in pursuit of money and power, evilness and dehumanization (the convict’s savage appearance and death, Stapleton’s mistreatment of his wife and others), science/ crime (naturalist that murders, detective that observes world), family line (inheritance of physical and personality characteristics in Rodger Baskerville, obligation of Barrymores to Selden, neglect of daughter by Frankland)

VOCABULARY WORDS

Asperity - severity of surroundings or personality; though it is used in Chapter One to describe Holmes’s response at hearing he is the second best detective, it could also apply to the landscape around the Hall or Stapleton’s temper, as seen in his outburst when Sir Henry tried to kiss his sister (actually his wife).

Atavism - as described in the Chapter One notes, the presence of a characteristic found in remote ancestors but absent in other more recent generations; Dr. Mortimer wrote an article on this, and Stapleton, with his similarities to Hugo, proves to be a good example.

Crenellated, Mullioned - the first term refers to the notches at the top of the tower (so that it alternates between a square of stone and open space), the second to the metal separating windows into panes; the words are in reference to Hall and add to the feel of the medieval castle.

Immemorial - beginning before record, in memory or otherwise; used as argument in one of Frankland’s cases on trespassing on an ancient path, it can describe the dwellings of Neolithic man (without an accurate date) as well.

Moor - a marshy wasteland; Sir Henry is warned, as have the Baskervilles before him, not to cross this at night.

Mire - muddy, unsupportive ground, such as a bog; Stapleton keeps his hound and a hideout near an abandoned mine deep in the Grimpen Mire and it is while trying to reach this, that he dies.

Spectral - ghostly, or otherwise appearing supernatural; this term is applied to the hound several times, which has had phosphorous applied to it, so that it glows and looks even more fierce

Tor - a steep, rocky overlook; Watson spots a man (whom he later finds out was Watson) standing on this the night he and Sir Henry chase the convict.

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MonkeyNotes Summary-The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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