Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles was such a success in Victorian times because it was a new and fresh type of writing. The intrigue into crime was starting to be studied in more depth as to find out what compelled people to commit offences. The way Conan Doyle wrote was also a new technique, such depth and description was portrayed in his novels. The wisdom and knowledge of logical beliefs that he used were held in high regards. Never had a book been so deep, so descriptive and well thought out until Conan Doyle’s era.
‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ was published in 1901 which was fortunate as a law had been passed in 1870 that there had to be a school built in every town/village. This then meant children had to attend school and only a select few before hand had had an education. So by the time Conan’s novel had been released people had been prominently reading for 30 years which meant many people would be able to enjoy the literature which he produced. Sherlock Holmes has got to be one of his most famous characters, as he in himself was and still is today a different detective to most past and present.
Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was said to have been based on Dr Joseph Bell, one of the teachers at the medical school at which Doyle attended. Arthur Conan Doyle was 17 when he first met him and it was said that he left an ‘indelible impression’ upon the young student. This is how Conan Doyle described him much later: a ‘thin wiry, dark man, with a high nosed acute face, penetrating eyes and angular shoulders’ Dr Bell ‘ would sit in his receiving room with a face like a red Indian, and diagnose the people as they came in, before they even opened their mouths.
He would tell them details of their past life; and hardly would he ever make a mistake. ‘ Conan Doyle dedicated ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ to Dr Bell, who gave credit to the author for Sherlock Holmes’s genius. ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ is still today one of the main novels associated with Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes as well as ‘A Study in Scarlet. ‘ The reasons for ‘A Study in Scarlet’ being such a success are that the reader is never left guessing, because there is never a missing a link. The murder scene and victim are illustrated thoroughly by Watson’s use of short descriptions.
He describes the victim as ‘stretched upon the boards, with vacant, sightless eyes. ‘ All the necessary information and details are presented to the reader so that no questions are left unanswered. It is also made sure that the reader knows exactly how horrific the murder was especially when Watson describes the victim’s face, making it obvious that he did not die a comfortable death. The same techniques used there are also transferred into ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ except in this novel it seems that the descriptions of locations and objects is one of the main features as this also helps set the mood for the particular chapters.
Chapter 6 in particular describes the moor in plenty of detail so that you actually imagine you are there experiencing what the characters are going through. ‘Rolling pasture lands curved upwards on either side of us, and old gabled houses peeped out from amid the thick green foliage, but behind the peaceful and sunlit countryside there rose ever, dark against the evening sky, the long, gloomy curve of the moor broken by the jagged and sinister hills.
‘ This setting may have surprised Watson greatly as he is used to the hustle and bustle of London, everything moving fast and hectic while in the countryside it is slow and thought out, the perfect setting for murders as people feel like family and look out for each other, meaning that no one will point the finger at anyone else. There are also plenty of places to hide bodies, knowing full well that they will scarcely ever be found (late 20th century moor murders). This gives an idea of how people adapt to different surroundings and have to change their perspectives.
Watson has no clue about people and life there, yet he is still thrown in the deep end by Holmes asking him to characterise everyone he meets. This implies that Holmes puts a lot of pressure on to Watson trying to get him up to the standards he expects. However in this novel the ‘top’ detective is absent from most of the story so he isn’t able to tell Watson if he is doing anything wrong, so how does he expect him to learn when the mentor doesn’t teach. Watson’s role in this book is also the narrator, telling us everything that is going on.