Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh and was educated at Stonyhurst College and the University of Edinburgh. He was a very religious man who was brought up in a Catholic family. He divided his time between medicine and writing the famous stories he is known for today. Arthur Conan Doyle was an eminent author and wrote many successful science fiction stories, historical novels, plays, romances, poetry and his detective Stories which he is most celebrated by today. Conan Doyle made his first appearance in ‘A Study of Scarlet.’ This was his first Sherlock Holmes story, which was published by Ward Lock. Later he continued to write many successful Titles including; the lost world, the memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The land of mist and one of his most renowned novels The Hound of The Baskervilles.
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The Hound of the Baskervilles is set in London and Devonshire, The mystery and suspense is enhanced by having 2 main settings, the contrast of them shows a city and a mysterious empty countryside, this creates atmosphere. The story begins in London when Sir Henry comes up to visit and receives the message warning him not to go to Baskerville hall, which was written in the manuscript. Then many mysterious happenings occurred like Sir Henry’s stolen boot and the news paper cuttings; warning him to avoid the moor which read, “As you value your life of reason, keep away from the moor.” When Holmes’s attempts at solving the case in London turn out to be dead-ends, they go out to the moor. Later, in Devonshire Baskerville hall is set in the grim melancholy moor, nearby the Grimpen Mire, and it is believed that a spectral hound haunted the Baskerville Family; as each heir to Baskerville hall has experienced a shocking and terrifying death, one by one. After the death of his uncle, Sir Henry moves into Baskerville hall to claim his family fortune, however his life may be at stake as the hound was said to be loose. The Baskervilles believe that the immortal hound was because of a curse within the family, due to ancestors’ behaviour. Events in the moor include meeting the neighbours; hearing the sound of the hound; interviews with Mrs. Lyons and Selden’s death. The action happens mostly at night, this adds to the mystery and suspense in the story as it emphasises the eerie setting.
Arthur Conan Doyle was very successful at creating an atmosphere of mystery and suspense in The Hound of the Baskervilles. He used many different and well crafted techniques to do this. Such as; the use of supernatural and superstition, red herrings, personification, the use of cliff hangers, his creation of settings and his use of metaphors and similes. He kept each chapter more mysterious and exciting as the book went along, and I’m positive that others who have read the book would agree with me.
In the opening of the story, Watson discovers a walking stick which had been forgotten by Dr. Mortimer from the previous night. Watson tries his best to work out the evidence from the appearance of the walking stick. He notices the engraving on the silver band at the top which read, “To James Mortimer, MRCS, from his friends of the CCH.” Little does he know, Holmes is using all of his resources at his disposal, he is using “a well polished silver plated coffee pot.” to see Watson’s reflection, and to find out the mystery of the walking stick. As the scene develops Watson couldn’t quite work out what the initials meant Whereas Holmes knew there exact meaning. Holmes uses deductive reasoning to find out every detail which builds up the atmosphere of mystery and suspense.
The way how Conan Doyle uses his characters really creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. Arthur Conan Doyle completely misleads you into believing that Stapleton is an innocent naturalist, who catches butterflies, “A small fly or moth fluttered across our path, and in an instant, Stapleton was rushing with extraordinary and speed in pursuit of it.” This makes the readers automatically think that he is blameless. However, Stapleton turns out to be the villain in the story. This creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense as it throws the reader off their initial prediction. Conan Doyle involves the mind of the reader, with the mind of the character; this technique is very effective in The Hound of the Baskervilles as it creates even more mystery and suspense.
Throughout the book, Conan Doyle used many examples of red herrings, which created an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. One of the largest red herrings in the novella is Selden, the escape convict. As the reader, I connect ideas together, believing that he must be involved in the murders. However, Selden didn’t happen to be involved in any of the mischief; he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Another example of the use of red herrings is the false link between Barrymore and the London stalker. This increases the drama and tension within the story. Later in the book Barrymore has been seen signalling the convict late at night; yet this also turns out to be innocent. This made the story very intense and I found myself wanting to sit on the edge of my seat.
The contrast of the two settings enhances an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. Conan Doyle cleverly incorporates the two settings in one story; the buzzing city and the forbidding moor. The mystery in London is formed by the spy following Sherlock Holmes’ every move, the newspaper cuttings and the disappearance of Sir Henry’s boot. “By thunder if that chap can’t find my missing boot there will be trouble.” This quotation in particular creates anticipation because it makes the reader question the purpose of taking only one boot, because one boot is of no use to anyone, whereas in Devonshire, the drama builds up to a crescendo more. The eerie settings along with the mysterious events make the atmosphere of mystery and suspense at its climax. “Trees moaned and swung in a rising wind.” This quotation uses personification which emphasises the ghostly surroundings. Stapleton’s description of the Grimpen Mire gives the reader a picture of the hostile environment around Baskerville hall. “That is the Grimpen Mire; a false step yonder means death to man or beast.” This quotation gives both the reader and Watson a warning concerning the ghastly surroundings.
Holmes used deductive methods to solve the mystery in The Hound of the Baskervilles; it was very practical in the story line as it added further mystery and suspense. He revealed one clue at a time; this kept the reader on the edge of their seat, wanting to read on to the next page in the book. Holmes took particular attention to minute details in order to fit all of the information together and for it to make sense, like a jigsaw puzzle. Watson’s narrative technique was very important. In the novella as Holmes was absent for most of the story, Watson’s opinions and views were shown in a diary, extracts, letters and written accounts that explained how his investigations were developing. This was a key part of the story as it made the reader understand the progress in his investigations.
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The use of myth and legend in the hound of the Baskervilles adds more mystery within the story. According to the manuscript, the Baskerville curse was brought upon the Baskerville family due to the behaviour of Sir Hugo. From that time, the family had experienced strange deaths and it is believed that these deaths have been caused by a spectral hound. The sound of the Hound created even more drama in the story, “The creature gave a hideous howl.” This creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, particularly so for a Victorian readership because; as you can imagine the Victorians would never of heard of anything so terrifying.
Conan Doyle’s use of cliff hangers also creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. Like his other magazine stories; Arthur Conan Doyle finished every chapter with a cliff hanger in The Hound of the Baskervilles. This made the book more exciting and interesting to read and carry on with. Although his book wasn’t serialised; he uses the same technique to further the creation of suspense. By ending each chapter in a Cliff Hanger, the reader has to wait to hear what happens; this carries on an atmosphere of mystery and anticipation onto the next chapter.
The use of dangerous situations heightens mystery and suspense in the story. Particularly when Holmes and Watson were waiting for Sir Henry in the treacherous moor, this adds more suspicion to the plot of the story; especially when a mist is covering the path and Holmes and Watson can barely see in front of them “if he isn’t out in a quarter of an hour the path will be covered. In half an hour we won’t be able to see our hands in front of us.” The Mystery and suspense is created as the reader, we know what can go wrong. Suspense is increased more by the amount of light used to set the scene. Another dangerous situation that creates tension and drama in the story is when Watson discovers a hut amongst the moor, Watson uses his five senses to discover what is happening, and this creates additional mystery and suspense. When Watson was in the hut, he heard a noise and more tension and suspense was created by getting his pistol out of his pocket, “I shrank back into the darkest corner, and cocked the pistol in my pocket.” This created a sense of danger to the reader because the fact that he has his pistol at the ready makes the reader nervous because Watson may be in danger.
The ending would have pleased a Victorian Readership, as it ends happily. However tension is not resolved as we are unsure whether Stapleton truly died on the moor; even Watson and Holmes do not know for sure if he died: “But more than that, we were never destined to know, but there was much more which we might surmise.” The ending remains satisfying (particularly to a Victorian audience) because the villain is out of the picture, even if not dead.
In conclusion, Arthur Conan Doyle creates mystery and suspense in the Hound of the Baskervilles in many ways, which certainly lures the reader onto the next chapter. The superstition created an excellent opening to the story which created many possible routes for the book to follow, this added more suspense. The Hound of The Baskervilles was a Victorian stylised first person narrative novel, this was suitable for a Victorian Readership as it comprised of a happy ending. Conan Doyle used many effective techniques, using cliffhangers at the end of each chapter carried on the suspense further. The use of personification and similes created a magical atmosphere.
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