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Gothicism in the Hound of the Baskerville

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Gothicism in Detective Fiction The Hound of the Baskervilles

Yue Zhao

Submitted to the School of Foreign Studies in Partial Fulfillment to the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in
English (International Trade)
Under the Supervision of Ms. Tang Jun

June, 2012

Acknowledgement I would like to pay tribute to all those people who have given me a hand in the process of writing this thesis. Without their gracious help, the accomplishment of this thesis would not be so smooth. First and foremost, I deeply appreciate my supervisor, Ms. Tang Jun, who has provided me with so many valuable comments and constructive advice all the way through. But for her constant and invariable patience and kindness in guiding me, it would be more difficult for me to go through all the confusions and find a right direction. My thanks also go to the teachers who has given me suggestions, which benefit me a lot when I make the original plan, in the opening defence. With their help, I get to know where I should go next. Last but not the least, I extend my thanks to my classmates and my dearest parents for their encouragement and support. Wheneve I feel frustrated with my work, they are always there.

Gothicism in Detective Fiction The Hound of the Baskervilles
As one of the most influential people who are never alive, Sherlock Holmes, written by Arthur Conan Doyle, attracts researches. The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of series detective fictions about him. This paper is an attempt to give a specific analysis on how gothic features perform in the depict of the characters, scenes and plot and to reveal the influence made by gothicism on appreciation of the book in part of the readers Gothic novel as one genre of the English literature leads habitually with darkness and horror including elements of horror, mystery, supernatural phenomenon, and family curses. The features of gothic novel can be seen in many aspects of this work which causes readers’ difficulty in accepting some scenes appear in this fiction, however, on the other hand those scenes are reasonable considering the development of the whole story. The conflict reflect that the author is trying to communicate with us by his work.

Key Words: gothicism; detective fiction; The Hound of Baskervilles

摘要:亚瑟·柯南道尔笔下的夏洛克·福尔摩斯作为最有影响虚构人物之一,一直受到广泛的关注。《巴斯克维尔的猎犬》就是该系列小说之一,本文试图运用哥特小说的特征简要分析哥特风格在这篇小说中人物,场景,情节描写上的应用,从而了解哥特风格在侦探小说中对读者接受和解读文本所呈现出的效果及影响。 哥特式小说作为文学流派之一,常常使我们将其与黑暗和恐怖相联系,包含恐怖,神秘,超自然,家庭诅咒等因素。这类小说的特征在《巴斯克维尔的猎犬》的很多描写中都体现的淋漓尽致,在侦探小说的形式下,由于哥特风格的应用,使得读者在情感上难以接受某些场景的出现,但从整体情节发展来看,这些场景的出现又都是合理的。这种冲突的产生恰好反映了作者试图通过作品进行交流。


Acknowledgement i
Abstract: ii
Chapter I Introduction 1 1.1 Toptic area and research background 1 1.2 Thesis Structure 2 1.3 Significance of the research 2
Chapter II Literature review 3 2.1 Previous researches on Stories of Sherlock Holmes 3 2.1.1 In China 3 2.1.2 In other countries 4
Chapter III Theoretical framework 5 3.1 Features of gothic fiction 5 3.2 Techniques used in gothic fiction 6
Chapter IV Analysis on gothicism in The Hound of Baskervilles 7 4.1 On characters 7 4.2 On scenes 9 4.3 On plot 10
Chapter V Conclusion 12 5.1 Major findings 12 5.2 Limitations 12
Bibliography 13

Gothicism in Detective Fiction The Hound of the Baskervilles

Chapter I Introduction
1.1 Toptic area and research background The author of this fiction, Arthur Conan Doyle, was born in 1859 in Edinburgh and died in 1930 in Crowborough. Storis of Sherlock Holmes, written by him, is one of the wordwide notable works for its success in shaping the character detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine, The Hound of the Baskervilles was published in 1902. Conan Doyle had Holmes apparently plunge to death down the Reichenbach Falls in the story The Final Problem. However, public outcry led him to bring the character back in this story, though it was set at a time before the Reichenbach incident. The fiction traces the suspicious deaths of Sir Charles Baskerville beside a moor and the subsequent investigation by Holmes and his partner Watson. Sir Charles Baskerville was a general and widely respected man, who had a sizeable amount of inheritance and living in Baskerville Hall with a heart disease. In order to obtain the money, Jack Stapleton, who acctually was another heir besides Charles’s nephew Henry Baskerville named Roger Baskerville, trained a hound and murdered Charles and also attempted to murder Henry yet did not commit by making use of the tale of a hellhound. In the tale, Hugo, early member of Baskerville family, was seen put to death by a gigannic hound after some wicked actions. In this way, he misled people to connect this murder with the hound instead of himself. However, Holmes and Watson finally get the right answer, shoot the hound before it attacks Henry and look for Stapleton(Roger). Unsuccessfully, he is presumed dead, having lost his footing and being sucked down into the foul and bottomless depths of the mire. The author regroups the narrative time and creats suspense which keeps the readers tenterhooks all through the work till last part. Because the incident occurs in the fiction is mysterious itself, in the narration, abundant details including elements such as death, family curse and deserded moor reveal some gothic features. The gothicism can be also seen in depicting the characters, scenes and plot.

1.2 Thesis Structure This thesis include five chapters. The first chapter gives a brief introduction about the author and the work as well as points out the significance of this research. The second chapter copes with literature review. In this part, this author would like to share previous researches did by some scholars both in China and in other countries. From their achievements reflects the value of this fiction yet there are new ways to make an analysis. Chapter three following the features of gothic fiction and the writing techniques which form the theoretical framework. Chapter four treats with a specific analysis on the details of the work finding the gothicism in it. Chapter five brings the whole thesis to an end with a conclution of the discussion before and points out that combination of detective fiction and gothicism makes the work more readable.
1.3 Significance of the research From the perspective of a literature critic, The Hound of the Baskervilles may be a remarkable detective fition with complex cases. From the perspective of a translator, it is perhaps a valuable material used to test new methords in translation. However, from the perspective of normal readers, it is only an attractive story. They focus on whether the plots are able to maintain their attention. By doing this research, this author is trying to make the public know that detective fiction or crime fiction could be not simply the narration of incidents. When adding some typical gothic scenes and images in it, the work becomes more impressive.

Chapter II Literature review
2.1 Previous researches on Stories of Sherlock Holmes Since being published Stories of Sherlock Holmes especially the most important character detective Sherlock Holmes attracts researches. The stories have been discussed in many ways. Most of the researches consentrate on literature, for instance on style, narrative pattern, the building of suspense and the characters. And some researchers also pay their attention to the translation of the stories. What is more, the author Konan Doyle is been researched by some scholars as well.
2.1.1 In China In China, different translations of Stories of Sherlock Holmes are discussed by Eva Huang(Kong Huiyi). She collected the early translation, including the Chinese imitator Cheng Xiaoqin’s translation, and the translations of leaders of Mandarin ducks and butterflies school such as Zhou Soujuan, Yan Duhe and Chen Xiaodie. The translations of the classical Chinese and modern vernacular Chinese are also collected. Eva Huang analyzes these translations from narrative style and interference of local culture. She points out that the translation of Stories of Sherlock Holmes, which was published by Zhong Hua Book Company in 1916, is established as a new standard for the novel translation. From Stories of Sherlock Holmes, the Chinese researcher Liu Bannong has summed up the conditions of being a detective. In his eyes, Sherlock Holmes is a full Victorian person who is good at the main science of that time. He also gives an analysis on narrative skills and characteristics of the figures in stories. In addition, through the analysis on stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the twenty years, he finds that the characters in story hold the same the speech style and attitude as the beginning. And Fan Boqun, who specializes in Chinese modern popular novels, comments on the Chinese imitator Cheng Xiaoqin’s works. Li Oufan compares the suspense building in Stories of Sherlock Holmes with some detective stories. He notices that the crime in some detective stories is identified at the outset. And then the process of the official or detective finding out the truth will be told in following parts. But in Stories of Sherlock Holmes, the truth of cases is always emerged in the end. It is also one of the reasons why Stories of Sherlock Holmes attracts so many readers’ attention.

2.1.2 In other countries Some scholars research the story itself just like Peter Brooks. The research of Peter Brooks is on narration. In his Reading for the Plot, he illustrates one story of Sherlock Holmes to explain the ideal which he called “double logic”. It means to narration’s narrative. In other words, before the detective solves the case, the process of commission of crime must be repeated. According to Brooks, the plot of the detective stories is always the repeat of a kind of discourse, or the process of restructuring story. This can be proved in The Hound of the Baskervilles. As a classical detective story, Stories of Sherlock Holmes becomes a model of detective story creation. Jeffery Kinkley(2000) mainly studies Sherlock Holmes and his imitators. His discussion in The Fiction of Chinese Justice is viewed as the most comprehensive one.

For this work, many aspects have been discussed. However,in the previous researches, there are few ones are on the point of gothicism in it. The present of gothic features and use of gothic writing techniques allow readers to find a new direction of comprehending Conan Doyle’s work including The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Chapter III Theoretical framework The origin term of “Gothic” can be traced back to “Goth”, the notorious barbarous people of an old Germanic tribe. “Gothicism” develops gradually to indicate a grotesque style in architecture prevailing in the Middle Ages of Europe and later it is used in literature to convey the idea of “Dark Romanticism” that is excluded by the Classicists from the mainstream of the literatus. Gothic literature starts from the eighteenth century in England,and gradually forms a special school in literary world. Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Gothicism's origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story". The effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, an extension of romantic literary pleasures that were relatively new at the time of Walpole's novel. Melodrama and parody (including self-parody) were other long-standing features of the Gothic initiated by Walpole.
3.1 Features of gothic fiction Prominent features of Gothic fiction include terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, madness, transgression, excess, secrets, and hereditary curses. These features are reflected in characters scenes plots and themes. “Tyrannical villain” and “weak girl” have been two major kinds of figures in gothic fiction. The former one is usually brutal imperious and ruthless. They do any evil thing they can to satisfy their greed. Some incidents terrible and bloody are always proved to have something to do with the villain or the villain is always the creater of those incidents. The later one, weak girl, being a classic image in gothic fiction lies a relatively extreme position compared to the villain. They are delicate and charming and there is often a beautiful and sad love story happening to them. When it comes to scenes, there are many typical ones depicting haunted houses and gothic architecture and their surroundings which are always the main settings of the whole story. Death is also a usual scene appearing in gothic fiction. The expression and posture of the dead person are used to render atmosphere of terror. If death is called the representation of terror, then rising from dead is an eerie scene and it is a feature of gothic fiction. The inspiration comes from Christians’ belief of coming back of Jesus the Christ. The plots of gothic fiction are usually full of terror and mystery. The setting of dark at night, the portraying of violence and murders and some extraordinary scenes contribute to the creation of terror from the beginning to the end.
3.2 Techniques used in gothic fiction One of the techniques of gothic fiction could be subjective narrative which means the author put his or her own power totally into the work through the narrator, in another word, the author’s opinions and feelings are exposed and emerged in the story and as a result the powerful intervention effects on the readers so that besides accepting the novel itself they also get the author’s understanding about what happened in it. It is known that fictions writen in a subjective way make the ascertainment of meaning available to readers by “me”. For the readers, It is “I” that experience all the incidents occur. In the one hand, subjective narrative reveals narrator’s mentality directly and leaves readers with a clear understanding when mentality station changes. On the onther hand, people who read the novel could easily regard themselves as “I” that appears in the story as if they were staying with all the characters and experiencing what is happening to the narrator. In gothic fiction, this kind of narrative shorten the distance between virtual world and real life which makes some horrible scenes more believable. The chronological disorder is also an important narrative strategy. Frequently use of pre-narrative and flash-back helps the author in the integration of events or plots that happened not in time order.

Chapter IV Analysis on gothicism in The Hound of Baskervilles Following features of gothic fiction and techniques used in it this thesis is gong to give a discussion on gothicism in The Hound of Baskervilles. As one of Stories of Sherlock Holmes, this fiction is generally regarded as a detective fiction. Readers pay more attention on the development of the case which means they would like to know how does intellegent detective Sherlock Holmes solve the problems and find the truth according to the clues he has already got instead of caring about how does the author depict characters scenes and plots that are necessary. As a matter of fact, after making anaysis the author of this thesis finds that gothic features are represented in many aspects of this work.
4.1 On characters Characters are essential for a fiction as their actions move forwards the whole story. Among all the characters in The Hound of the Baskervilles, Stapleton(Roger Baskerville), the owner of the hound or the actual murderer and his wife who used to be told to pretend to be Mr. Stapleton’s sister before being finded out are perfect reppresentation of the model of “Tyrannical villain” and “weak girl”. They changes their names and living places twice to get rid of some responsibilities. Stapleton tries to get the huge amount of heritage by hook or by crook. He makes use of the tale of the hellhound and the so-called curse of Baskervilles murdering Sir Henry Baskerville who is one of the obstacles on the way to his “success”. After that, he can even keep talking with Watson who is send to investigate this case in calm and try to mislead the direction of investigation

“You are an educated man. You don’t believe such nonsense as that?” said I. “What do you think is the cause of so strange a sound?” “Bogs make queer noises sometimes. It’s the mud settling, or the water rising, or something.” “No, no, that was a living voice.” “Well, perhaps it was. Did you ever hear a bittern booming?” “No, I never did.” “It’s a very rare bird — practically extinct — in England now, but all things are possible upon the moor. Yes, I should not be surprised to learn that what we have heard is the cry of the last of the bitterns.” “It’s the weirdest, strangest thing that ever I heard in my life.”(81)

Actually, the sound appears in these lines is proved to be bark of the hound after all the problems solved. Stapleton’s equanimity after murdering a person and orderly conduct of his conspiracy present that he is brutal imperious and ruthless in the inner heart. He doesn’t care about anything except materials and human resources that he can take advantage of to make it. There is another occation that shows his personality. When Holmes found Mrs. Stapleton in her house after saving Sir Henry Baskerville from attack of the hound, the station made Holmes angry because what he saw was a weak woman tied to an upright beam which indicate that she didn't live a good life and often beat by his husband.

“In the centre of this room there was an upright beam, which had been placed at some period as a support for the old worm-eaten baulk of timber which spanned the roof. To this post a figure was tied, so swathed and muffled in the sheets which had been used to secure it that one could not for the moment tell whether it was that of a man or a woman. One towel passed round the throat and was secured at the back of the pillar. Another covered the lower part of the face, and over it two dark eyes — eyes full of grief and shame and a dreadful questioning — stared back at us. In a minute we had torn off the gag, unswathed the bonds, and Mrs. Stapleton sank upon the floor in front of us. As her beautiful head fell upon her chest I saw the clear red weal of a whiplash across her neck.”(181)

It is not difficult to presume that Stapleton takes his wife as a threat to his plan and to guarentee his “success” he locks his wife avoiding that she perhaps informs Sir Henry of the danger. This indicates that whoever obstructs his obtaining what he wants even his own wife is his enemy. He is a greedy person which is also proved in the last part of the fiction. That part provide references of Stapleton’s early life before he moved to the house near Baskerville Hall. He once purloined a considerable sum of public money in South America changed his name and fled to England. However, he never satisfy with the money he already have and continualy commit crimes. On the contray, the chatacter Mrs. Stapleton whose original name is Beryl Garcia is kind-hearted and charming. She attracts Sir Henry’s eyes at the first sight when she is forced to appear as Stapleton’s sister. And being against with the behaviours of her husband and the way he treats her, she risks being discovered reminding Sir Henry of danger for twice though at the first time Sir Henry’s interest on the incident makes him ignore the letter written by someone who lately proved to be Garcia and at the second time she recognizes the wrong person Watson as him and fails to pass the information to him directly. What is more, when Holmes found her after shooting the hound and coming back from the moor the first person came to her mind was Sir Henry but not his husband.

“Is he safe?” she asked. “Has he escaped?” “He cannot escape us, madam.” “No, no, I did not mean my husband. Sir Henry? Is he safe?” “Yes.” “And the hound?” “It is dead.” She gave a long sigh of satisfaction.(181)

It is obvious that she feels shameful of her husband and care more about the security of Sir Henry. Such two persons with so close relationship and totally different characteristics perfectly coincide the regular design of characters in gothic fiction.
4.2 On scenes A fiction can never exist without scenes. Considering gothic features special architecture can be seen in this work, the most typical representation is the Baskerville Hall.

“we looked down into a cup-like depression, patched with stunted oaks and firs which had been twisted and bent by the fury of years of storm. Two high, narrow towers rose over the trees. The driver pointed with his whip. ‘Baskerville Hall,’ said he.”(67) “It was a fine apartment in which we found ourselves, large, lofty, and heavily raftered with huge balks of age-blackened oak. In the great old-fashioned fireplace behind the high iron dogs a log-fire crackled and snapped. Sir Henry and I held out our hands to it, for we were numb from our long drive. Then we gazed round us at the high, thin window of old stained glass, the oak panelling, the stags’ heads, the coats-of-arms upon the walls, all dim and sombre in the subdued light of the central lamp.”(69) From no matter the high narrow towers in the outside part or the large and lofty apartment and old stained glass in the inside part of this hall the author tries to convey a gothic feeling to readers as these elements are revealing the gothic architecture stytle. In addition, the ancient house hiding behind trees is generally treated as a regular setting in gothic fiction. Just as there are many terrible scenes put in gothic fiction, some special ones are also built by the author in this work to render an atmosphere of terror and tension. For instance, the scene put before Watson getting available to the “stranger” on the moor.

“The sun was already sinking when I reached the summit of the hill, and the long slopes beneath me were all golden-green on one side and gray shadow on the other. A haze lay low upon the farthest sky-line, out of which jutted the fantastic shapes of Belliver and Vixen Tor. Over the wide expanse there was no sound and no movement. One great gray bird, a gull or curlew, soared aloft in the blue heaven. He and I seemed to be the only living things between the huge arch of the sky and the desert beneath it. The barren scene, the sense of loneliness, and the mystery and urgency of my task all struck a chill into my heart.”(140)

That stranger is then found to be Holmes but at at that time Watson does not know what kind of person he may meet and he believe that the person could probably be the murderer of Sir Charles Baskerville, in that wide expanse which is almost silent, he feels more lonely and helpless. Under the effect of such psychology, Watson becomes awed to the surroundings. The first person way make readers think as if they were staying with the narrator. That is to say, though it is not real, the feelings of terror and tession successfully passed onto readers. Another example could be that at the end of the case, Holmes and his partners go through a bog to research more evidences and to see if they can find Stapleton.

“Rank reeds and lush, slimy water-plants sent an odour of decay and a heavy miasmatic vapour onto our faces, while a false step plunged us more than once thigh-deep into the dark, quivering mire, which shook for yards in soft undulations around our feet. Its tenacious grip plucked at our heels as we walked, and when we sank into it it was as if some malignant hand was tugging us down into those obscene depths, so grim and purposeful was the clutch in which it held us.”(183)

During this process, the odour of decay and quivering mire which is like a malignant hand tugging them down implicit with dread and death. The rhetorical device of simile see comparing a bog to a malignant hand used here emphasize the terrible feeling brought by it.
4.3 On plot Apart from the characterization and setting of gothic scene the plot knitting is part and parcel of integrated work. E. M. Forster, in his book Aspects of the Novel, makes a distinction between the story and the plot. The story, according to Forster, is the sequence of events as they happen while the plot is those same events as they are told, with an emphasis on their causal relations. For The Hound of the Baskervilles, as it is a detective fiction, the plots are arranged logical with the criminal case solved step by step under the cooperation of Holmes and his partners. The hound has been the clue throughout the whole text since it was first mentioned in the manuscript brought by Dr. Mortimer to Holmes when he attemped to consult a doubtful case. In the manuscript, the direct line of Hugo Baskerville tells the story of the hound of the Baskervilles and shows his belief in the curse of his family that Hugo is bited to death because of inappropriate behaviors to a girl and many of his families died sudden, bloody, and mysteriousThe purpose of writing this is to warn his offspring to keep away from the place where the tragedy happened. After some of them arrived at Baskerville Hall, Stapleton took them to the very place similar with the description in the manuscript. Thus Sir Henry was much interested and asked Stapleton more than once whether he did really believe in the possibility of the interference of the supernatural in the affairs of men. Till here, the hound is still living in people’s imagination and maintains like this for a long time. When one day Holmes discoved that hound it is no longer a creature in legend but a useful thread definitely contributing to conclusion of the case. The hound failed in attacking Sir Henry and was shot to death at last part of the case. No one knows the reaction of people living near Baskerville Hall to this case. Do they still believe in the tale of the hound of the baskervilles? Will they move to another place seems safer than there? Questions are left for readers to think about. The mysterious atmosphere exist all the way through the plot which is similar with gothic fiction.

Chapter V Conclusion Stories of Sherlock Holmes is a significant work in English literature and The Hound of the Baskervelles is a representative one among all stories. Conan Doyle synthesizes detective fiction with gothic features and creats a remarkable work.
5.1 Major findings Generally regarded as a detective fiction, this work is not so simply as we thought. It is added some featues of gothic fiction which are reflected from different aspects. In designing of charecters, it abide by part of the prototype of a man and a woman having tatally opposite characterizations. The man is tyrannical while the woman is mild and sometimes even weak. By contrust, this typical pair of persons make contributions to the similarities between troditional gothic fiction and this one. The scenes of this work are built to leave the result of the case unknown and the use of some scenes of terror is functional in keep readers’ eyes on the fiction and bring them about deep impact. In terms of plot-knitting, Conan Doyle tries to take the hound as the essential clue of the whole fiction. By continuously setting omen and exposing truth step by step, he keeps the story full of mystery like froggy weather which block our efforts to observe surroundings. It is the perfect combination of detective fiction and gothicism that makes the work impressive.
5.2 Limitations Despite that this thesis has presented some findings of gothicism in detective fiction the present study has limitations. For example, this thesis chooses one detective story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, as a case to analyze gothicism in detective story. The analysis is restricted into the content of this story which limits the range of study, and the case in this thesis can not represent all detective stories. And also because of the process of collection and analysis is subjective, it is unavoidable to miss some details to suport the findings.

Bibliography 1] 阿·柯南道尔(英)著路旦俊等译,福尔摩斯侦探小说全集(中),广州:花城出版社,1997 (English Version: 2] 黄禄善, 哥特式小说:概念与泛化,外国文学研究,2007年第2期,第43-49页。 3] 李欧梵, 福尔摩斯在中国,当代作家评论, 2004年第2期,第8-14页。 4] 毛晋华,解读英国哥特小说,文学语言研究,2007年3月下旬刊,第62-63页 5] 肖明翰,英美文学中的哥特传统[J], 外国文学评论, 2001年2月, 第90-101页

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