Arthur Conan Doyle was on of the most successful writers of the Victorian Era. “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” was one of the more tense and suspenseful of his novels, and so was a huge success at that time and is still enjoyed today. I will be examining how, in the chapter of climax, Conan Doyle manages to create tension and suspense, and how this relates to the methods he has used during the rest of the book.
He repeatedly uses several factors of the book to help create tension and suspense in the book. One of these is the feeling of the “unknown” which is often manifested in Holmes, as he seldom tells Watson everything, and as we are seeing events from Watson’s point of view, we are left with the feeling of fear that all humans share for the unknown, “he was exceedingly loath to communicate his full plans to any other person until the moment of their fulfilment.” This aspect of Holmes personality makes compelling reading in climactic chapter, as Watson does not know what Holmes is thinking, and the final stages of Holmes’s plan are only revealed to Watson shortly before they occur, “we shall make our little ambush here.” Holmes waits until they are actually at Merripit House before he tells Watson and Lestrade (another detective) what he wants them to do.
Holmes’ character helps create a feeling of tension and suspense throughout the book, he is arrogant, self-certain, and secretive. Earlier in the book he tells Watson to investigate Baskerville Hall and its residents, while he, unbeknownst to Watson, is hiding in the hills and observing from afar: “That cold, incisive, ironic voice could belong to but one man in the world. ‘Holmes!'” He is a typical egocentric Victorian male, and has a commanding attitude towards Watson, as if Watson was completely inferior: “He is a professional brother of yours, and your presence may be of assistance to me”.
This quote shows Holmes telling Watson that he may be able to help him, as if Watson was not really needed in a normal situation. He treats Watson like a student, letting him try out some of the methods that Holmes has taught him, Holmes seems to feel superior to Watson, “Well, Watson, what do you make of it?” and “Perfectly sound,” Holmes often talks to Watson as a master would to an apprentice: “I am afraid my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were erroneous.”
It is this arrogance and feeling of superiority that gives rise to a factor of the tension in Chapter 14, where Holmes neglects to tell Watson the plan until it is almost about to happen. He is not telling Watson everything: “One of Sherlock Holmes’s defects -… he was exceedingly loath to communicate his plans to any other person until the instant of their fulfilment.” This is a sign of sheer arrogance, as not communicating his plans to his group may jeopardise their safety, and the success of the plan. This shows he is very self-confident.
The moor is used frequently to instil fear in the reader, as it is used to emphasise that feeling of the unknown; the fact that it is sparsely populated and no one knows what is out on it. This is used effectively during Chapter 14: “My nerves… cold wind upon my face and the dark, void spaces… we were back upon the moor.” Watson is relating his nerves to the blackness, and the fact that he couldn’t see far over the moor. Though out the rest of the book, the moor and its vastness are mentioned occasionally: “the moor is very sparsely inhabited, and those who live near each other are thrown very much together.” This quote shows that most people on the moor will know each other, and so the job of Holmes is made easier in working out who killed Sir Charles, as only so many people live on the moor.