The Hound of the Baskervilles | Study Guide

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Hound of the Baskervilles | Chapter 6 : Baskerville Hall | Summary

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Summary

Before Watson takes leave Holmes requests that Watson investigate the villagers and report back to him. Dr. Watson takes his gun for protection.

Upon arrival in Devonshire, Watson learns that an escaped killer is assumed to be hiding on the moor. As they travel to Baskerville Hall, Sir Henry admires the beauty of the landscape while Watson remarks upon the melancholy darkness of the moor. Approaching the manor, Sir Henry promises to install lights to dispel the ominous gloom about it.

Upon arrival Dr. Mortimer goes home, while Sir Henry and Watson meet Barrymore, the butler. Sir Henry looks at the portraits on the wall, in awe of his family's history. During dinner Sir Henry expresses his understanding of his uncle's anxiety given the somber atmosphere in Baskerville Hall.

That night Watson hears a woman sob.

Analysis

Holmes's request for regular reports from Watson that supply only the facts comments upon their unequal relationship. He describes Watson as a man of action and asks him to refrain from any analysis or conclusions. Holmes sets himself apart as a man of reason and wants to be the one to interpret the clues because he does not quite trust Watson to do an adequate job.

At the same time the reports are a literary device that invites readers to draw their own conclusions in Watson's stead. This evokes the power of the first-person narration to increase suspense, as the reader will see the world through Watson's eyes without any commentary or interpretation, almost as if witnessing the scene firsthand.

As the story moves from busy London to the vast expanse of the moorland, Watson's description of the beautiful countryside slowly fills with imagery of doom and gloom. As they approach the moor and Baskerville Hall, dusk sets in, the wind howls, and the moor looms dark at the edge of the horizon. The sinister manor towers at the end of a pitch-black driveway, and shadows dance on the walls as they eat dinner by candlelight, suggesting that they have indeed stepped into the realm of danger. In London reason and security as personified in the character of Sherlock Holmes seemed to prevail; at Baskerville Hall ominous foreboding reigns.

While Watson seems weighed down by the depressive feel of the manor, Sir Henry, ever the optimistic young Canadian, is ready to make this new abode his own. He commiserates with his uncle's anxiety given the eerie surroundings, but he is not willing to shy away from the family curse. When he vows to install lights along the driveway so that Baskerville Hall may seem more inviting, he metaphorically vows to cast light onto the darkness lurking in his family's history. They seem to have stepped into the realm of paranormal peril, but Watson and Sir Henry are here to lift the veil and explain the inexplicable.

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