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Free Literature Notes for The Hound of the Baskervilles

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LITERATURE NOTES AND ANALYSIS


CHAPTER TEN:
Extract from the Diary of Dr. Watson


Summary


The diary entries pick up the 16 th , the day after the report leaves off. The dreary weather is affecting everyone’s mood. Even the grounded Watson is pondering if the superstitions do after all have some legitimacy behind them, given the sounds heard on the moor, the locals’ reports of frequent sightings, and Sir Charles’s still unsolved death. He makes a resolution to keep his plans and findings to himself as much as possible, so as not to put additional stress on Sir Henry.

That same day, Barrymore and Sir Henry have a heated discussion over what should be done about Selden. The butler feels that they should not take advantage of his wife’s confession to turn the man in and says that he will cause no problems for the countryside if left alone until he is able to escape on a ship. Sir Henry has some reservations, mostly out of concern for the Stapletons’s welfare, but eventually agrees.

In return for this favor, Barrymore shares a piece of information that he had previously kept secret out of concern for Sir Charles’s reputation. Only one letter had arrived that fateful day, from a woman in Coombe Tracey. Then, after his death, the Barrymores discovered the letter, mostly burnt (as the sender wished) but with the end still readable. It requests Sir Charles’s presence at the gate at 10:00, the time of his death, and is signed with the initials L.L. Watson sends off a report of this new information to Holmes immediately.

The next day brings similarly bad weather. Watson goes out to where he had seen the man that night they chased Selden, but there is no sign of him. He catches a ride back from Dr. Mortimer, who distraught over his missing and ill-fated pet spaniel. The doctor is able to supply the name of the L.L. signer-Laura Lyons. She is Mr. Frankland’s daughter but he does not concern himself with her much beyond supplying her with a small amount of money since her bad marriage fell apart. Others in the area, including Stapleton and Sir Charles, have helped her out in starting a typewriting business.


Watson decides to try to find the woman tomorrow. He also gathers some more information about the man on the moor. Barrymore tells him that Selden, whom there has been no sign of for three days, had mentioned that someone else was living out there. The man lived in the ruins of those ancient abandoned dwellings and a boy brought him his food.


Notes


Much like Rodger Baskerville, Selden has also found it necessary to flee England for South America. But as it turns out, the relatives of both the Baskervilles and the Barrymores will remain at the moor and die there.

Watson is also concerned about the other man on the moor. He is incorrect however in his statement that “[a] stranger then is still dogging us, just as a stranger dogged us in London.” He finds out the identity of the man at the end of the next chapter, and it is actually almost the reverse situation now (the suspect was watching Baskerville and Holmes and now Holmes is watching the suspect and Baskerville).


CHAPTER ELEVEN:
The Man on the Tor


Summary


Watson tells Sir Henry about the identity of L.L. as Mrs. Laura Lyons and invites him along to pay her a visit, but, in the interest of not intimidating her, they decide that after all it would be best if he went unaccompanied. The woman, whom Watson describes as a flawed beauty, is on her guard just the same when he arrives. It is only after repeated questions that leave her with little alternative to telling the truth, that she admits to writing the letter.

Sir Charles had already become familiar with her situation through the sympathetic Stapleton and she believed that if she was able to talk to him directly, he would help her in getting her freedom from her husband. The matter became more pressing at the news of the baronet’s soon departure for London; hence, the late hour. Mrs. Lyons is however quite insistent that she did not go to meet him at the appointed time, claiming that she received the help she needed from someone else before it.

On his way back to the Hall, Watson is stopped by Frankland, who asks him to go inside and celebrate with him; he has just had two cases decided in his favor (notably, of contradictory interpretations of property rights). Watson accepts the invite, as a chance to send off the wagonette and driver, to carry out his investigations on the moor in secret.

Frankland unwittingly helps him further in this cause. By playing down his interest, Watson finds out from the old man that a boy carrying food goes to a place just beyond the Black Tor (a tor is defined as a “high, rocky hill”). They even see him doing so through the telescope. Frankland is incorrect in believing that the food is going to the convict, but regardless he will not report his discovery to the authorities, who he feels have not done enough to stop the protests in the streets against him.

After getting away from Frankland, Watson goes looking for the mysterious man’s hideout, finding it between the hills in an ancient house with its roof mostly intact. Watson tosses away his cigarette, takes hold of his revolver, and walks in. The man is not in but his belongings are there, including the package that the boy has just brought him. There is a note as well, briefly reporting on Watson’s activities for the day.

Watson waits in the ancient house for him to return. He hears steps, which stop for a moment, and then the figure of the man, a man Watson knows quite well, appears in the doorway.


Notes


The sympathies of readers are generally focused on Mrs. Lyons, as the victim of a marriage which has bound her to a man she hates. This view is difficult to challenge, since Mr. Lyons is absent from the story, but there is little reason not to accept it. British law would have favored the man and she would have had considerable difficulty in obtaining a divorce at the time. This is one example of how fiction and reality are intermingled within the work; reform of such laws was one of the many issues that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle advocated. The character of Mr. Frankland, with his extreme litigiousness, could also be a statement by the author about the system itself, which decided the cases with such obvious differing opinion.

Watson’s writings on how he will catch the man that so alluded Holmes in London is a nice twist in the story. In Chapter 5, the cabman tells the detective and assistant that the man said his name was Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Watson does not track down that man, but he does find the actual Holmes.



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