‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a Sherlock Holmes story. The novel was the only book in the Sherlock Holmes series to combine both gothic and detective genres. Most of Doyle’s other novels were either detective or adventure stories. Sherlock Holmes stories were very popular during the Victorian period so too were gothic stories. Combining the two categories made the book very popular. Gothic stories involve mysterious happenings and creatures thought of as evil. Devils, bats and beasts are used in gothic literature.
They include things such as the supernatural (this could be some sort of ghost or unnatural being), the ill treatment of women (such as rape, this creates a sense of evil), deception, mystery and secrecy. There are many gothic features in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, such as the legendary hound, which is thought to be hunting down the Baskervilles. The legend began when Hugo Baskerville died. The night he died he attempted to rape a maiden and she escaped. Hugo decided to set his hounds on the maiden. He mysteriously died and the hound was to blame.
This creates gothic sensations such as a supernatural being and ill treatment of women, which both are included in gothic literature. The settings and atmosphere were very important in gothic novels. ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ is set on a mysteriously forbidding moor. The atmosphere is full of tension and deception. In the novel there are many secrets and lies. This makes the reader suspicious and curious of the happenings in the book. Another gothic feature in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ is the presence of evil tyrants.
A tyrant is somebody who uses his or her power cruelly. The tyrants in the novel consisted of Hugo Baskerville and Stapleton. ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ is crowded with deception, mystery and secrecy. There are many mysterious characters and secretive acts in the novel, such as the secrecy with Stapleton and Beryl, the convict Selden, the Barrymore’s and many more. The hound in ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ is described as the ‘Hound from hell’. This suggests the hound is evil to describe it as being from hell. It is also believed to be giant and deadly.
The 200 year old legend of the hound proves that the hound is supernatural, as it is impossible for a hound to live that long. In the novel the hound is believed to be a myth, but many believe in the hound or say they have seen the hound. This element of doubt adds to the suspense in the novel. The Victorians were very interested in the supernatural; it was a main feature in the gothic genre. They enjoyed reading shocking and disturbing tales. As far as the Victorians were concerned an interesting book must contain gothic content.