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hound of baskervilles

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Discuss the use of cultural context and suspense in chapters 1 and 2 of "Hound of the Baskervilles" by Arthur Conan Doyle The story is set in 1886, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Crime was rife and prostitution, drug abuse and murder were commonplace. Public hangings were just part of everyday life. There was much poverty and ill health; poor people lived in cramped, dirty and squalid conditions. Smog caused by the factories weighed heavily on the city, creating a dark, dreary place. Jack the Ripper, an infamous murderer, was loose on the streets of London, attacking women. The Victorian people feared crime greatly. The Police could not catch Jack the Ripper and were seen as their methods were seen as inefficient. Many Victorians had a deep resentment against the Police in London, as they did not appear to protect the public. This resentment reached it's peak when many officers were exposed as corrupt. "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is part of a collection of short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. The story follows the investigations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they investigate the story of an age-old curse and mysterious deaths within the Baskerville family. The setting for the story came from Doyle's visit to the English moors. While there, he visited prehistoric ruins and heard tales about escaped prisoners and a local legend about a dog. From there, he developed the tale of the Baskerville hellhound, a terror that haunts the family, and could mean the end of the Baskerville line. ...read more.


It then goes on to mention some dates, 'I put that at 1730' and 'the exact date is 1742'. These are key dates and they also make the manuscript and the novel more factual and therefore more realistic. Charles Baskerville is a 'Sir', a member of the English aristocracy and this would immediately suggest a certain type of person to the reader and place the character in a context, such as a fairly high class and respected person with no doubt a lot of money. In 1902 the English class system was much more rigid than today. While describing the manuscript Mortimer says "yes it is a statement of a certain legend which runs in the Baskerville family". The word 'legend' makes it seem more believable, the word gives it more credibility, legendary things are often quite old and mysterious, and so this is also building up suspense and makes the reader want to read on to find out what the legend is about. Doyle also gives cultural context through how the men treated women at the time of the story. The manuscript says, 'when they had brought her to the hall the maiden was placed in an upper chamber'. This implies that the women were owned by the men and that men could do anything they wanted to women and it would be socially accepted. It shows that the men had a lot more social and political power. Back in 1902, when people were reading this, it would be seen as normal. ...read more.


Another effect this very long sentence has is that after a part or the hound is described there is a comer; this allows the reader to picture what had been described so at the end of the sentence you get this picture in your head of what the Hound looks like. It then goes on to say 'it turned its blazing eyes and dripping jaws upon them, the three shirked with fear and rode for dear life, still screaming, across the moor. One, it is said, died that very night of what he had seen, and the other twain were broken men for the rest if their days.' This shows how horrific the beast must be if just seeing it can kill you, or send you mad. Harsh words such as blazing, dripping, fear and screaming are used to again create an image in the readers head, all of these words can also be associated with death or suffering, they are also quite harsh, not very nice words normally associated with horrible things. Chapter 2 ends with 'Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!' This leaves the chapter on a cliff hanger, the novel was original brought out in papers, one chapter each week. So this would make the reader want to buy the next chapter to find out how the story finishes. It is also a good way of building up suspense because a reader would have to wait a whole week to find out what happened and in this time they would be desperate to know what was going to happen and why the footprints were there. David Locke ...read more.

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