Supernatural undertone of the book Essay
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The fog is part of the moor’s ‘unknown vastness.’ You cannot easily tell how thick fog is, and in which direction it will move, which when applied to Hound of the Baskervilles brings a sense of uncontrollability, it is described as “dense, white fog.” The fog begins to come towards Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade in Chapter 14 as they wait outside Stapleton’s house, and it is used to give a sense of urgency, as they will not be able to see very well if it reaches them:
“Our success and even his life may depend upon him coming out before the fog is over the path.
” It is not mentioned much before Chapter 14, as no such sense of urgency was needed, but in this situation, the fog is used almost like a timer, showing the group how long they have left until they’re situation gets a lot more difficult. Another theme to create a feeling of tension and suspense that Conan Doyle uses, which was quite revolutionary at the time, is the idea of the dignified villain. The Victorian public at the time would have expected something like a ruthless working class ruffian, not the well educated, dignified, and respected Stapleton. Stapleton is one of the few men with any education on the moor:
“With the exception of… Mr Stapleton, the naturalist, there are no other men of education within many miles.” This would have lead a Victorian reader off the trail, as Stapleton is one of the few men of any education, and altogether one of the few people living within a few miles of Baskerville Hall. This fact that the villain is not revealed until near the end of the book adds another part to the feeling of unknown that Conan Doyle uses with effect throughout the book. Stapleton is a smart man, he invites his victim, Sir Henry Baskerville to dinner, a very sly move:
“Stapleton rose and left the room, while Sir Henry filled his glass again.” Stapleton had carefully planned how he would kill Sir Henry Baskerville without it looking like he had done it, showing him to be an intelligent man, as well as ruthless. Stapleton is the ideal villain in this novel, as he is one of the men who would least be suspected, and so the fact that he is the villain creates tension when the reader thinks about how he has acted throughout the rest of the book. Conan Doyle also uses vivid and descriptive language to create feelings of tension and suspense during the novel:
“Lonely walk across the ill-omened moor.” He talks about the moor as if it has some clandestine supernatural power, and is very figurative about his language: “Heads of distant tors as rocks borne upon its surface… It’s sluggish drift” He says this as if comparing the mist to some monstrous slug, slowly encompassing the land before it, and that the peaks in the distance are borne along with it, giving the impression that the mist is more powerful than the tors themselves. This gives a feeling of tension and suspense in the climactic chapter, as it indicates that the men are not the only forces at work on that evening, ever enhancing the supernatural undertone of the book.
The “Hound of the Baskervilles” is a novel which at first seems centred on the supernatural, and ghost stories, but in the end turns out to be a novel with a complex plot involving a cunning criminal. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle manages to create tension and suspense throughout the book, the most successful of the ways he has done it is probably the feeling of unknown that is featured, because it plays on the human fear of not knowing, a fear which we all share, and so makes the book more popular. Often, we find it far worse not knowing what is out there, than knowing the manifestation of our fear.