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The Hounds of the BaskervillesWhat does the novel tell us about the English society and the ways of life in the late 19th century? Refer to lifestyles of main characters, place of servants, role of women

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Introduction

The Hounds of the Baskervilles What does the novel tell us about the English society and the ways of life in the late 19th century? Refer to lifestyles of main characters, place of servants, role of women, contemporary morality and details of everyday life. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 'The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1902. The novel was written in the early Edwardian age shortly after the Queen Victoria reign had ended (1837-1901). However the book reflects the late Victorian society instead. In this Victorian Era class status was an extremely important issue and it caused a great division between the people of this time. 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' emphasises these differences including the variation in lifestyles, places and roles of women and servants, the morality and details of everyday life. The community was divided in three ways; upper, middle and lower class. The upper class were extremely well-educated, intelligent, always well-dressed and had excellent manners. Their wealthy and professional careers allowed them to own servants and lead their own lifestyles. middle class citizens were in between the classes. They didn't own servants/mansions nor always have the wealthiest careers however they were not servants and didn't have to work in the worst paid factories nor warehouses. ...read more.

Middle

Within the bigger houses the servants who usually lived in the house would be arranged into a hierarchy of servants with the butler (male) at the top (which is ironic as this reflects the patriarchal system of Victorian England). In Baskervilles hall, Mr Barrymore is the butler "subdued manner of a well-trained servant" and Mrs Barrymore is the housekeeper "large, impassive, heavy featured". Commonly in those days the servants would stay with the family for years and show great respect and loyalty. Sometimes servants would work in the same households as their relatives, Mrs Barrymore and her brother were bought up in Baskerville Hall. Frequently the servants children would grow up in the household too and would start working there at a young age. However when Mrs Barrymore is told of her brother's death, Mr and Mrs Barrymore announce to Sir Henry that they wish to leave Baskerville Hall and his reaction is "I should be sorry to begin my life here by breaking an old family connection". The loyalty of the relationships between the owner's and servants is highlighted with the Barrymore's reasoning for leaving Baskerville Hall "..we were both very much attached to Sir Charles.....I fear that we shall never again be easy in our minds at Baskerville Hall". ...read more.

Conclusion

A "frock-coat" was an example of a common piece of clothing that an Upper class man would wear. The polite formalities of those that a typical Victorian man would follow e.g. Watson "I had raised my hat" towards women when meeting/greeting them was normal behaviour for those who had excellent manners and were taught from a young age to behave well. The same rules went for women in relation to the expectations of them wearing a hat and so when Miss Stapleton apologises and comes out without a hat, the everyday life of the dress code becomes even more clear. In conclusion the Victorian Society were very apparent about everyday details of the communities lives varying from the appearances and clothes to the hierarchy of servants and the ideas on general life. People were extremely pressured into acting in one certain way and if this was not followed then they would be punished or lowered to another class meaning that their entire life and everyone's opinions of them would be affected. If a citizen's actions was incorrect for their class/status then they would be branded as disrespectful or immoral. 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' is a detailed novel on the expectations and general lifestyles for the people living in The Victorian Era and Arthur Conan Doyle shows a clear insight into the Contemporary morality, lifestyles and roles of each and every citizen living in this period of time. ...read more.

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