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The novel ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ is a murder secret novel based on an ancient legend of a ghostly pet dog that’s haunting one family. It is believed to be something supernatural that offers the book an ominous atmosphere created well by the author. The book was published as a serial in 1901 and went on to be incredibly successful. The author uses plenty of contrast in the description of the within Baskerville Hall, however it still discovers as sinister ‘my word it isn’t a very cheerful place’ is Sir Henry’s initial reaction to it.
Conan Doyle develops environment in the mansion by utilizing things ‘The door clanged heavily behind us’ clanging heavy doors offers the impression of a haunted mansion, and likewise reveals that it is silent enough in the estate to hear it loudly, another example of a things creating atmosphere ‘various candle lights did something to remove the sombre impression’ saying that the home is frightening, but the decoration is uplifting.
‘Long shadows trailed down the walls and hung like a black canopy’ ‘like a black canopy’ is a simile, this use of imagery truly contributes to the result of indirect eeriness. It gets explained also as a ‘great apartment or condo’ revealing that it is frightening since of what it is believed to represent (menstruation of the Baskervilles) but it is really a charming house.
The important things that truly makes the mansion scary is the fact that the author does not describe it as a huge run down haunted estate, it is actually an extremely great house however with a dark and eerie environment since of the past and the authors subtle comments make it seem scarier such as ‘a dull light shone through heavy mullioned windows’ due to the fact that there is nothing specifically ominous about the description, it is simply not favorable as it is not an intense light, and the heavy windows offer the impression of a sort of prison or church which gives the impact of a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere.
The descriptions of the outside of Baskerville hall the author makes are nothing but negative such as ‘The house glimmered like a ghost at the end’ this is a simile and it is scary as the thought of a house glimmering gives a dominating feel, as it seems like everything else is dark, and they can just see the lit up house at the end and the use of the word ‘ghost’ gives a supernatural feel which gives the reader a fear of the unknown. Sir Henry says ‘there is no wonder my uncle felt that trouble was coming’ which shows that his first impression from the outside is frightening.
He describes ‘weather bitten pillars’ which shows that they do not get great weather down there and that the pillars must have been there for a while, therefore showing the house is old and most typical haunted houses are old. The journey up to the mansion a number of scary encounters occur such as ‘Trees shot their branches in a sombre tunnel above our heads’ the word sombre means gloomy or dark so it is saying that it is dimly lit under the trees.
The bad weathering outside the house is shown in descriptions like ‘A ruin of black granite’ this is saying that it is ancient as you associate ruins with ancient landmarks. Another example of Conan Doyle using weathering is ‘Broken fringe of rocks’ this says that they are broken, and as a result look unattractive and unwelcoming. Conan Doyle uses sounds to add effect such as ‘A rustle of ivy on the wall’ this shows that the wind is blowing, and ivy is a plant that consumes the house.
The moor is what the story is mostly based around; it is portrayed as a sad, deserted place which is shown when Conan Doyle describes it as ‘Grey, melancholy hill, with a strange jagged summit’ grey is a bland, cold and sad colour, and melancholy means depressed. The author also describes it as ‘Forbidding moor’ this is threatening as not only is it scary as it is, forbidding makes it seem like they are not allowed there.
The author normally does the moor scenes when it is dark which creates suspense as bad things typically happen at night, he often uses the moon to express that it is night time for example ‘His eyes shining brightly in the moonlight’ the moonlight is reflecting off of his eyes which makes it mysterious and also ‘The moon shone on it and it looked like a great shimmering ice field’ this is a simile, and ice is cold, which makes it scarier and it is as if everything else is out of sight other than the moonlit moor.
Another example of Conan Doyle trying to show it is night time is ‘Emerged into the clear, star-lit night’ which sets the scene and the word emerged is scary because he has appeared out of the thick fog, but they do not know what else is among it, something dangerous may not be able to be seen. ‘Bronzing bracken and mottled brambles gleamed in the light of the sinking sun’ the sun is setting representing loss of light and night approaching therefore something terrifying is more likely to happen.
‘Behind the peaceful and sunlit countryside’ the sunlit area is described as peaceful as light is not a typical setting for eeriness. ‘The gloomy curve of the moor, broken by the jagged and sinister hills’ gloomy, jagged and sinister are all negative words. The moor however is not just eerie at night as it is just on the whole which the author clearly tries to make a point of ‘after these autumn rains it is an awful place’ this makes the moor seem horrible as rain is disgusting weather and this shows the moor will be marshy.
‘A dreadful cry echoed over the moor’ the fact that the cry echoes shows that the moor is a wide-open space as sound travels further in empty areas, the fact that the moor also has the mysterious and sinister grimpen mire in it makes it seem like it has a more supernatural side to it, the description ‘Houses of these forgotten folk; with their graves and huge monoliths’ shows that death is in the moor because of the gravestones and empty houses and also shows desertion.
So all in all, the surroundings that the author chose for the novel has many elements that encourage fear in the reader; the open spaces, the fog on the moor, the time of day he uses for the events in the story for example; night and sunset are both associated with bad goings on. The reader immediately connects these times of day with frightening things. In the novel the author describes objects and the scenery in such a way that they are representative of fearful images.
The setting is mostly scary throughout but not too obviously otherwise it would lessen the effect Conan Doyle has made which is of subtle horror, sometimes the scenery is described as pleasant to make you feel as though the place is not scary but a supernatural going on, like a haunting is happening. All of these factors contribute to the atmosphere that he greatly creates.
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