Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Brief Note On The Hound Of The Baskervilles


A brief note on an important thematic aspect of The Hound Of The Baskervilles:

When early in it , Dr. Mortimer asks Holmes and Watson, basically Holmes, for advice given the Baskervilles’ curse, it seemingly having taken the life of Sir Charles, it begins Conan Doyle’s theme of the natural, essentially cause and effect, as against the supernatural defiance of cause and effect. 

Mortimer has in fact concluded that a marauding, killing hound on the moor is supernatural. Given that judgment, and with Sir Henry arriving to take over the Baskerville estate, Mortimer at the outset of the novel principally wants to ask Holmes what he, Mortimer, ought do with Sir Henry. He doesn’t retain Holmes to resolve the mystery, which by definition aren’t resolvable, at least true ones aren’t. 

From Holmes's point of view, every set of clues points toward a logical, real- world solution. Considering the supernatural explanation, Holmes considers all natural explanations, implicitly rejecting anything else. Sherlock Holmes personifies the intellectual's faith in logic, on examining evidence and moulding them into facts to find answers.

That vindicated faith gets enhanced by elements in the novel from the Gothic tradition, which highlights the bizarre and unexplained. The mysterious hound, the dark brooding mood, the unexplained grisly deaths, the Baskervilles’ long standing family curse, even the dark mysteries hovering around Baskerville Hall add up to a Gothic mystery, which, at book’s end, succumbs to Holmes' deductions. They consist of drawing inferences from evidence formed into facts, reasoning from information to conclusions, all in vindication of the ineluctable relation between cause and effect, in  precise disaffirmation of the supernatural.

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