The Hound of Baskerville Study Guide


About the Author

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle KStJ DL was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and died on July 7, 1930, in Crowborough, Sussex, England. He was a British author and physician. In 1887, he invented the character of Sherlock Holmes for A Study in Scarlet, the first of four books and fifty-six short tales about Holmes and Dr Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are considered landmarks in the field of crime fiction.

At med school, Doyle met his mentor, Professor Dr Joseph Bell, whose remarkable abilities of observation inspired Doyle to create his famous fictional detective character, Sherlock Holmes.

Introduction

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s four crime novels starring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set mostly on Dartmoor in Devon in England’s West Country and relates the narrative of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a terrifying, evil hound of supernatural provenance. Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr Watson investigate the case. This was Holmes’ first appearance since his supposed death in “The Final Problem” and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character’s eventual rebirth.

Summary

Dr John Watson, the first-person narrator, silently examines a cane on Baker Street in London to deduce the identity of the guest who left it behind. Despite the fact that he is sitting with his back to Watson, Sherlock Holmes requests Watson’s conclusions concerning the cane. Watson is surprised that Holmes understood what he was doing although he could not see, but Holmes admits that he was only utilising the polished teapot in front of him as a mirror. In a polite but competitive banter, Holmes adds to Watson’s conclusions regarding the cane but then comes to his own. When the guest, Dr James Mortimer, returns, it is revealed that Sherlock Holmes’ analysis was correct: Mortimer is a young man who retired to the country after marrying and owns a cocker spaniel. Following introductions, Dr Mortimer requests permission to touch the famed detective’s skull in order to evaluate the contour of a bright man’s head.

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Analysis

This opening chapter introduces the story’s two primary characters: Sherlock Holmes, the famous investigator, and his companion Dr John Watson. They are pals with uneven status. Watson definitely admires his bright friend, whilst Sherlock Holmes regards Watson with benign amusement, although he clearly respects his assistance and friendship. Despite Watson’s academic credentials, Holmes’ intelligence is clearly better. Despite observing the same details on the cane, they reach wildly different conclusions, yet Sherlock Holmes is always correct. Their amicable banter has a competitive edge to it, with Holmes taking impish joy in proving Watson incorrect and Watson expressing dissatisfaction with Holmes’ superior attitude.

Watson, The Hound of the Baskervilles’ first-person narrator, recounts the novel’s events.

The reader experiences the novel’s universe through his eyes, sharing his point of view and attitude. Everything Watson knows, the reader knows—no more, no less—and thus Watson serves as the reader’s stand-in. The reader is invited to try to answer the puzzle, fumbling along like Watson and relying on Holmes’ superior insights. As a result, even though Watson relates the storey, Sherlock Holmes, as the embodiment of logic and mental strength, is the story’s hero.


Study Questions

1. Who is the narrator?
Ans. The narrator is Dr Watson, Holmes’ assistant.

2. According to Watson who is actually the owner of the stick?
Ans. The stick’s true owner, according to Watson, is an elderly country doctor. He believes the C.C.H. that the H is related to a local hunt.

3.  According to Holmes, who is actually the owner of the stick?
Ans. According to Holmes, he is a young man under thirty, affable, unambitious, absent-minded, and has a dog.

4. What did Holmes induce from the clues on the object (Mortimer’s cane).
Ans. He had a spaniel, walked a lot, and was quite close with his clients because he left his cane at someone else house.

5. Who is the owner of the stick? Describe him.
Ans. Dr James Mortimer. He was a tall, skinny man with a long nose, grey eyes set closely together behind gold-rimmed glasses, strange and unusual. His coat was filthy, and his trousers were tattered. He was curious about Holmes’ mind.

6. Describe the stick and what clues did the walking stick provide?
Ans. It was surrounded by a silver band that read, “To James Mortimer M.R.C.S. from his friends at C.C.H. 1884” The bottom of the stick was worn, and it had tooth marks in the middle.

7. What does Dr Mortimer call Holmes in Chapter 1?
Ans. Dr  Mortimer calls him the second best detective in Europe. Holmes had quite a high opinion of himself. However, because Holmes is unrivalled as a human observer and understands every nuance of human nature, he recognises that Holmes is the only one who can assist him.

8. How does Holmes know Watson was examining a cane?
Ans. His back was toward him and he saw him through the well-polished coffee pot.

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