Free Plot Summary for The Hound of the Baskervilles |
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They are about to carry the body into one of the abandoned houses for the time being when Stapleton appears. He tries to hide his surprise that the body is not Sir Henry’s, claiming that he only thought it might be because the baronet had not shown up at the Merripit House. They claim not to have heard the hound and attribute Selden’s death to insanity from the pressure of remaining hidden. Holmes also uses the opportunity to pretend that he will be returning to London the next day. They then go their separate ways, Holmes going with Watson back to the Hall.
Light, as a symbol, is used in a reverse manner from the expected. Usually light indicates goodness but, in this story, it is Stapleton, from his house and cigar, that has the light about him. The other noted instance of light is from the candlelight used to communicate between Barrymore and Selden, but when their situation becomes known and they are no longer thought of having something to do with the Baskerville hound, the light goes away. For Barrymore, this is when his wife confesses what he is doing, and as for Selden, he is last seen lying dead in the darkness. In these cases, the light symbolizes possible suspects, the solution to the darkness associated with the unsolved case, rather than innocence.
“‘But now we have to prove the connection between the man and the beast,’” Holmes says. As it pertains literally to the case, it simply refers to Stapleton’s control over the hound, but it can also relate to the two sides of Stapleton himself. In this chapter, Watson’s last impressions of a harmless naturalist are brought down as Holmes replaces vague suspicions with facts, so that “[i]n that impassive, colourless man, with his straw hat and his butterfly-net, I [Watson] seemed to see something terrible-a creature of infinite patience and craft, with a smiling face and a murderous heart.”
False impressions also come into play in the subplot about Selden and not in a way that reflects especially well on the society. It was while wearing the tweed suit of a baronet, signs of civilization, that the man living wild and (somewhat) free on the moor was killed. Once among the dwellings of ancient man, at the close of the chapter, he is a broken figure on the ground behind a contemporary cold-hearted murderer. Of course since Selden is also a criminal, if he had not escaped, he would have been killed anyhow. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place (most quite literally); society doomed him to death either way.
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McCauley, Kelly. "TheBestNotes on The Hound of the Baskervilles".
. 09 May 2017