Themes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles

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Themes are what drive a novel to completion and influence the author to write the story. Themes are the main and central idea of the novel and usually can be picked up on quickly. In Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle expresses his themes in numerous ways, some of which are subtle, while others are more obvious. The themes in the novel include science versus superstition, appearance versus reality, and trust and betrayal. In Doyle’s time, forensics and criminology sciences were on the rise, proving many myths at the time false. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, some of the characters are easily persuaded by the hound’s appearance, while Sherlock Holmes stands firm in his scientific belief. The main but subtle …show more content…
All of the other characters are in a weakened state of mind due to the curse, making the majority of them vulnerable to the hound’s spooky appearance, but not Holmes. Appearance versus reality is a more obvious theme and it is closely related to science versus superstition. Multiple characters in the novel are convinced that the hound is truly from another demonic world: “The spectral hound, with jaws and eyes ablaze, at first appears otherworldly. But, as a man of reason, Holmes knows that appearances can be deceiving” (Kissane130). In reality, the animal was daubed with a phosphoric luminous paste that set its muzzle and eyes ablaze. Another aspect of appearance versus reality in the novel is when Sir Henry Baskerville breaks his neck. It is a major part of deception in the novel, leading the reader to believe that Sir Henry Baskerville is killed, but in reality it is Selden, the escaped prisoner, who fell to his death. Another example is Mr. Stapleton who appears to be a cheerful naturalist who lives with his sister, but in reality is the killer. Stapleton’s “sister”, Beryl, is actually his abused wife. The last deceitful example in the novel is when the Barrymore’s strange behavior appears to like them to Charles’s death, but instead they are just looking out for Selden, Mrs. Barrymore’s brother. All of these strange cover-ups are revealed by Holmes near the ending: “In the end, Holmes uses logic to decipher

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