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The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Examine how Conan Doyle establishes the setting for the novel in the opening four chapters. How effective do you consider this to be?

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Introduction

GCSE ENGLISH AND ENGLISH LITERATURE Prose Study of Pre-1914 Text: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Examine how Conan Doyle establishes the setting for the novel in the opening four chapters. How effective do you consider this to be? "The Hound of the Baskervilles" was written in 1902 when the detective genre had been established in England for around 50 years, by authors such as Wilkie Collins and James Anderson who published "Murder She Wrote". Arthur Conan Doyle contributed to the development of this genre by creating Sherlock Holmes & Dr.Watson in a range of popular short stories released in magazines. He was one of the most significant, influential authors to this genre as he created the most famous detective, in fiction, in Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes was first introduced in "A Study in Scarlet" which was published in 1887; this won a lot of success and meant that Holmes featured as a main character in future stories and novels written by Doyle. Doyle, born in Edinburgh, Scotland began practicing medicine in 1882; his knowledge from his education comes through in his writing and there are many references to scientific sources. This gave his writing a new dimension and was new for readers at the time which perhaps even contributing to the popularity of his writing. In "The Hound of the Baskervilles" Doyle establishes the setting through five main aspects. These are a sense of time, places, genre, the plot and characters. ...read more.

Middle

The way Doyle writes about it means the reader gathers that it's definitely a place of fear and mistiness. It feels like a place with primitive forces and a similar lifestyle. 'already rather grim reputation', this is Mortimers description of the Moor. It comes across as a very insecure dangerous place to be that is cut off from the world. 'The day had been wet, and Sir Charles's footmarks were easily traced down the alley. Halfway down this walk there is a gate which leads out onto the moor'. These two places; 221 B Baker Street and Dartmoor are complete opposites and there's a contrast between them. Doyle starts the novel at Baler Street which at the time was a traditional starting point for Holmes and Watson. It was their home and headquarters. The reader would have been very familiar with it and it is a place of logical thinking and safety. It's a place a place of comfort and security whereas Dartmoor is the opposite. It is a place in the wilderness with primitive forces, a very murky place that leaves the reader feeling unsure about it and infiltrates the readers mind with a sense of danger and a definite feeling of something going wrong. This is because it is the perfect place for a murder, a place where no-one wants to be. This is why the murder doesn't jus take place in London and there's a need for this different place because London is a very busy place and the safety etc of it had already been well established. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lots of information is given to the reader in the opening four chapters which provides sound footing for the rest of the novel to develop onwards from. I believe the book is brilliantly structured as the right things are established in detail. The walking stick is a red herring in the opening 4 chapters but it is important as it gives the reader an understanding of what is happening and what will follow in the novel. It lures the reader in and makes them want to read. This is the aim of the beginning of any novel and Doyle does this very well. He doesn't introduce insignificant things that will not follow on in the novel in great detail as this is not needed but instead he introduces the 5 main aspects of the setting almost perfectly which is proven with the world-wide success of Holmes, Doyle and the astonishing popularity of Detective Fiction as we know it today. There is a most wonderful balance of all the 5 aspects and he doesn't concentrate on any more than the other. This novel keeps the reader gripped and focused at all times and this just goes to show what a good writer Doyle was. He manipulates the readers mind in many ways and controls the way the reader thinks about certain events and then there's a sudden twist in the story. He has an influence on the way we perceive events throughout the story and this just goes to show how he has control over his writing and how well structured it is. Zishaan Ali Salam Prose Study of Pre 1914 Text ...read more.

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