Symbolism of Moor in Conan Doyle's Short Story

Categories: Short StorySymbolism

Conan Doyle’s depiction of the moor in chapter six of The Hound of the Baskervilles

With reference to Doyle’s style and authorial technique , explain how language is used to , construct a memorable setting for the novel. This essay will analyse chapter six Conan Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles” , and how he makes it incredibly memorable and paints a vibrant picture in the readers mind in every part of his story.

A convenient example of this is chapter six, this being filled to the brim by imagery, symbolism, personification, alliteration and a variation of similes and metaphors makes it very easy to understand Conan Doyle’s style, but what makes it truly interesting is the way he uses his narrators voice to convoy a biased opinion of the character to add different level’s to the story.

At the start of chapter six the main characters (Sir Henry,Mr Holmes , Watson , Dr Mortimer) are taken to the station .

The first speech is of Mr.

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Holmes and he brings the word suspicion into the reader’s view this is done when he says -“by suggesting theories of suspicion” This is important because the book was based around 1884-5. In 1844 people were very much more likely to be more suspicious about anything really (witches, ghosts and other mythical creatures ). So the theory of a ghost dog or something of the genre wouldn’t be swiftly shaken off by the readers of the time (1901-1902).

On page 60 line 9 The characters train comes to a stop and they get off an observe the surroundings.

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A key observation is that of two soldier’s . The two soldiers are incredibly important to the telling of the story. The reason behind this is that the characters are in the country side. Now in that age seeing a soldier in the country side let alone inner city London would be very unusual.

So as the reader has not been told the reason behind the presence of the soldiers, the reader is made to come to they’re own conclusions for this feature, inevitably the reader may come to the fact that the need of this security would be unnerving and make the characters very suspicious. As they ride the ‘cobs’ down the pasture lands Conan Doyle makes a sharp contrast between the land that they are riding down and the moor.

‘Rolling pasture lands curved upwards on either side of us, and old gabled houses peeped up from amid the thick green foliage ‘ This description of the surrounding land makes Devonshire seem beautiful with words such as peaceful , sunlit and thick green foliage – ‘ but behind the peaceful and sunlit countryside there rose after’ At this point the positive description of the surroundings change to depressing negative descriptions of the surroundings ‘ dark against the evening sky, the long , gloomy curve of the moor, broken by the jagged and sinister hills’ This description is intended to emphasise the shear rebel and despair of the moor.

The moor itself in the non fictional world was also very inhospitable with little sustenance, various attempts to farm it ended in no success very much because of the terrible grade of soil as well as treacherous marches. Simply it was bleak inhospitable and lawless. While in London it was very much the opposite so this contrast of settings with a very small transition between the two demands a change in the state of the readers mind, for example when the characters are in London you are less inclined to think they would get shot in play day while in the moors you could imagine it.

Throughout this chapter the reader is immersed in the plot. This part of the story is especially important because it is the turning point in the story. The starting point of the story with the setting of the scene, and is incredibly significant as this is where the murders happened. It fits into the overall plot by being the main setting for the story where if any action would be expected to happen it would be here. This is all represented by the smart use of a transition.

The transition being the shift of settings from London to Devonshire and starts by getting on the train and ends by getting of the train. The transition is uttered when they get of the train and the author writes -‘Our coming was evidently a great event’ this in its entirety explains that this point in the story is very important. Throughout chapter six the plot, theme, and setting are represented through Conan Doyle’s literary techniques. One example of this is the use of dialect and slang used -‘Halloa’ is not only a specific dialect usually used by ‘Londoners’ but slang for hello.

As well as this it is also has a very old historical context in that nowadays very little people would use that particular slang. Another example of his literary techniques which helps narrate the plot and setting is the use of the escaped convict character. The use of this character brings a whole new level into the story which builds up tension by leading the reader into a mind trap that makes you almost certain that trouble will befall the characters and will have something to do with this new convict character and of whom we are told is very dangerous.

This character has a great impact on the setting right from the start of the chapter with the introduction of the guards at the train station, and with that it may nudge the reader’s perspective of the theme may it be supernatural or a giant conspiracy to that of a more normal subtle mystery theme?. A great example of Conan Doyle’s techniques is the use of personification which is usually used on the moors to make them seem alive -‘that forbidding moor’ the use of forbidding, is what personifies the moor.

To forbid means in some form you have to stop someone/thing from doing a certain process , in this case though I think he maybe meant it in terms of ‘to have an effect of forbidding’. Either way the use of this word is not usually assigned to be an adjective of an inanimate object so is very unlike a inanimate object’s action and is more like a humans actions. Also the way it says -‘that forbidding moor’ The use of ‘that’ refers to the moor as a thing a picks it out from the sentence.

Imagery is a key part in Conan Doyle’s technique as he seems to use it a lot especially to describe the moor and its surroundings -‘Over the green square of the field and the low curve of a wood there rose in the distance a grey, melancholy hill, with a strange jagged summit, dim and vague in the distance, like some fantastic landscape in a dream’ The use of that one description of the hills sums up most of Conan Doyle’s techniques, including repetition, personification, imagery, symbolism and even a simile.

Where it’s written the green square, is a simple use of symbolism by the green squares representing the farmed fields from far away. Also the hills are described as melancholy. The use of this adjective gives the hill a human personality because of the human emotions involved. For a person to be melancholy they should be in a gloomy state of mind so for a hill to be melancholy is well, impossible. So taken into account the human description of melancholy then for a hill to be melancholy it could be depressed or even give of a saddening impression.

As well as this the word ‘melancholy’ and ‘jagged’ is repeated through out this chapter and the story to describe the hill/moor , this is a use of repetition. The use of repetition reinforces the desired outcome for the readers. The whole quote represents imagery as it is represented vividly and can be easily pictured through the use of Conan’s words. So to come to a or conclusion I deem that despite the fact that the book was written a century ago the book nevertheless holds relevance , and in my eyes Conan still manages to portray his settings in which ever way he feels necessary by assembling a work of art in the word form.

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Symbolism of Moor in Conan Doyle's Short Story. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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