Another feature that distinguishes Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel as a piece of gothic literature is the characters within it. The characters within gothic novels usually include a male tyrant with a female victim. The main characters are normally men and are usually wealthy and powerful. The female characters are normally victims and are usually very beautiful. These typical characters are probably common in gothic novels because of the attitude towards the sexes during the gothic period, men were seen to work hard and earn lots of money and the women were expected to work in and take care of the house and were expected to please and look after the men. Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles” includes all of these character types. The initial judgement of characters in the novel normally comes from Dr. Watson’s observations as he narrates most of the book. Sir Hugo Baskerville is one of the first main characters that features in the book and is mainly described in the manuscript within Chapter 2.
Phrases in the manuscript such as “he was a most wild and profane, godless man” help to show how fierce an evil Sir Hugo was with words like “profane” meaning disrespectful. Also in the manuscript is the sentence “There was within him a certain cruel and wanton humour”; the phrase “cruel humour” reveals that he is a malicious man and “wanton” tells us that he is thoughtless and may do cruel things with no motive such as kidnapping the maiden as we are told about in the manuscript. Stapleton is another vicious character that is significant in the novel. He is first introduced into the storyline around chapter 8. He is first described in Dr.Watson’s report as “cool and unemotional”. “Unemotional” gives the first glimpse that he is an evil character and reveals that he might do anything, as he lacks the ability to empathise or show compassion.
Stapleton is described again in chapter 12 through the observations of Dr.Watson as “terrible- a creature of infinite patience and craft, with a smiling face and a murderous heart” tells that he is deceiving and lethal. Dr.Watson writes in chapter 15 “having purloined a considerable amount of money”. “Purloined” means stolen, which emphasises Stapleton’s evil nature. During chapter 15, when Dr.Watson is portraying the story of the stapletons, it is proved that Stapleton is a tyrant and has control over a woman. Dr.Watson writes, “He acquired complete influence over her”. The fact Stapleton had “complete influence over her” shows that he is a tyrant and is manipulative it also starts to describe Beryl Stapleton as a victim of him. In chapter 7 Dr.Watson describes Beryl Stapleton as being “a beauty”. Female characters in gothic novels are very often beautiful.
A lot can be learnt about a characters personality from the things that they say. Such as in chapter 14 where Beryl says, “I have been his dupe and his tool”. Here Beryl is explaining how she has been a sufferer of Stapleton’s. This sentence reveals that Stapleton sees Beryl as an object rather than a person. If he does view people like this then it is probably how he can abuse them and feel no remorse. Another female dupe within “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a character called Laura Lyons. Laura is described in chapter 10 in the diary of Dr.Watson where he writes “he proved a black guard and deserted her” and “her father refused to have anything to do with her”.
Both of these statements show she has been treated cruelly and “deserted” by her father. By analysing the characters in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” it is clear that their personalities are the same as many in gothic literature. Many gothic novels include cruel male tyrants like Hugo Baskerville and evil, rich characters like Stapleton. Female victims like Beryl Stapleton and Laura Lyons are also common in gothic literature. It is clear that “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is apiece of gothic literature as it contains so many characters of the gothic style.
The storyline in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel revolves around the legend of the hound that haunts the Baskerville family. Legends and myths are frequent in gothic literature and form a complex but central part of the plot. Legends in gothic literature are often gruesome and include supernatural occurrences. The legend of the hound is talked about mainly in chapter 2, where Dr.Mortimer is reading the manuscript to Sherlock Holmes. Within the manuscript is the phrase “a foul thing, a great, black beast, shaped like a hound yet larger than any mortal eye as rested upon.” The creature is being described using negative words such as “foul” and “beast” which suggest that the creature is gruesome. Also the fact that it is “larger than any mortal eye had rested upon” suggests that the being is supernatural.
Within chapter 2, in the manuscript it says “the hound which is said to have plagued the family so sorely ever since”. The words “is said” show that it is only a legend and is not necessarily true and “plagued the family” gives the impression that the story has been passed down through generations, which gothic legends usually are. Also the word “plagued” with its harsh “pl” and “g” sounds means pestered and caused worry continually showing that the family has been troubled by the legend. In chapter 3 Dr.Mortimer refers to the hound as the “Baskerville demon”, “demon” shows that the creature is evil and terrible.
The legend has varied effects on characters in the novel such as Dr.Mortimer becoming concerned about the safety of Sir Henry, the rest of the Baskerville family being terrified of the hound and Sherlock Holmes questioning the truth of the legend. Arthur Conan Doyle manages to create a negative image of the hound using different techniques and lots of descriptive words and phrases such as “foul” and “beast”. These cause the reader to have a negative view of the hound and make the reader feel as though they should be scared of the hound. The legend in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is typical of a legend in gothic literature. The creature within the legend seems both terrifying and supernatural which beings in gothic legends often do. Therefore I would say that “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a piece of gothic literature.
It is clear that Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a piece of gothic literature for many reasons. The landscape within the novel is grim and dangerous which landscapes in gothic novels usually are. These harsh landscapes cause a sense of mystery for the reader. Also the negative weather conditions featured in the novel are common in gothic literature. These weather conditions include rain; snow; strong wind and general cold, hostile and unpleasant climates.
These kind of weather conditions add to the sense of mystery and danger that the reader feels. The characters within “The Hound of the Baskervilles” share the personalities of many characters from gothic novels such as male tyrants, female victims and rich, powerful people. The characters add a sense of intrigue for the reader. The legends in pieces of gothic literature normally include supernatural occurrences and horrific events both of which are features of the legend of the hound.
The legends within gothic novels affect the reader by creating a sense of horror. The buildings within “The Hound of the Baskervilles” have a distinct gothic style of architecture, which includes oak panelling; heavily raftered rooms; high partitioned windows and crenallated outer walls. The buildings within the novel create a spooky atmosphere, which is common of buildings in gothic literature.
All of these similarities between “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and other novels from the gothic period show that “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is a piece of gothic literature. I think gothic literature continues to be popular because the plots are unpredictable and often dark which is appealing to the reader. Also the settings in gothic novels are very atmospheric which adds depth to the novels. The authors of gothic novels are very descriptive which brings the novels to life for the reader. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” has a very interesting plot, lots of horrific events and plenty of creepy settings, all of which help to keep the reader interested. This is why the novel has proven to be so popular.