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Free Symbolism Analysis for The Hound of the Baskervilles

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SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / 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.


KEY FACTS


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)



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The Hound of the Baskervilles - Symbolism Analysis


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