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How does Sir Conan Doyle create suspense in Chapter 12 of The Hound of the Baskervilles?

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Introduction

How does Sir Conan Doyle create suspense in Chapter 12 of The Hound of the Baskervilles? In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Chapter 12 is the chapter in which Holmes and Watson discover the murderer responsible for the deaths of each of the Baskervilles. Sir Conan Doyle uses a variety of techniques, carefully manipulating the structure, characters and setting to generate a feeling of suspense for the reader. In this essay, I will further elaborate on each of these techniques and give examples of where and how he creates suspense. There are a variety of structure characteristics that encourage suspense, including plot twists, rising/falling tension, change of pace, cliffhangers, resolutions and clues. Chapter 11 ends as a cliffhanger, leaving us to anticipate whom the Watson's mysterious visitor is. Chapter 12 opens with a release of tension as we find out. A casual conversation takes place between the two detectives, beginning with, "I was never more glad to see anyone in my life." (128, p.5). When Watson says this, the readers instinctively know that the stranger is indeed no stranger, and perhaps a friend of Watson. ...read more.

Middle

Watson, however, considering the circumstances reacts rather calmly than he should to this statement, and this is what informs the readers that the tension has been released. "I was still rather raw over the deception which had been practiced upon me, but the warmth of Holmes's praise drove my anger from my mind." (130, p.7). The relationship between Sir Henry and Ms. Stapleton suddenly becomes even more elaborate when Watson is informed that Ms. Stapleton is in reality Mr. Stapleton's wife, as opposed to his sister. I personally found that when Doyle decided to insert this fact, I did not feel in a state of suspense but rather in a state of concern for Sir Henry. By putting him in a complex situation, Doyle gets the readers to assume that the worst is going to happen. One common way that almost every author uses to generate suspense is by creating a setting. The tone of atmosphere and lexical fields are often what bring the readers up onto their toes. ...read more.

Conclusion

"In that impassive, colourless man, with his straw hat and his butterfly-net, I seemed to see something terrible - a creature of infinite patience and craft, with a smiling face and a murderous heart. " (131, p.12) These are the thoughts that are going through Watson's head after Holmes tells him of Stapleton's crimes. By now, the previous setting of the outdoor scenery, influences the reader's predictions of what will happen next in the story. Because the setting was described as 'dark', the reader assumes that the consecutive events will also be 'dark'. Because of our advantage of having this knowledge of the techniques used, we are more attuned to how we are being manipulated throughout the chapter to feel suspense. Despite the fact that many think the book is clich´┐Ż and that Doyle has overused his techniques to the point that they are useless, I strongly disagree and find that these techniques are very effective and have been used in the appropriate context. By tampering with character relationships/emotions, creating appropriate settings and by constructing a story structure that undergoes plot twists and cliffhangers, suspense is undoubtedly created for the reader. ...read more.

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