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What do we learn about the Victorians' attitude to crime from a reading of Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'?

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Introduction

Mahmoud What do we learn about the Victorians' attitude to crime from a reading of Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'? In the Victorian era, society was made up of two types of classes; they were the aristocrats and the poor. Aristocratic people were very well educated, thought that they were caring and thought that they were not criminals but they were sometimes villains. Aristocrats were hypocritical; they thought they were moral. Poor people were often badly educated, and rich people thought the poor people were criminals. In the Victorian times, the general feeling of where crime took place was in the poor areas but Conan Doyle suggests that not only the poor areas were the places where crime flourished so was the countryside; the countryside becomes symbolic of both man's goodness and danger. The Charles Darwin theory was suggesting that the human race was good but we had another side, the beast side. Its like 'Jeykell and Hyde'. Charles Darwin suggests that we're not pure, we're not evil, we're twilight and we're in between good& evil. He also tries to explain why people do such horrible deeds. Sir Hugo Baskerville is symbolic of 'the beast and evil in man' and he represents Darwin's theory of the beast of man that apes evolved into humans. He has an animalistic violence. He shows cruelty and ruthlessness towards people. This is from the bestial side of the brain. He uses more beast side than human side so he becomes totally insane and loses control. ...read more.

Middle

He should be pitied because he is corrupted in prison so he doesn't know what is right and what is wrong. To society he is a dangerous villain, to his sister he is child who has lost his way. His heart has total darkness in him but inside that darkness there is little bit of light trying to show, like 'Pandora's box' when Pandora releases all the evil then she seals hope. Pandora told hope She would never let hope go, but hope says it would be a grave mistake so she released hope. Pandora is Selden; the sins are the darkness in his heart and hope is the light in his heart. Conan Doyle deliberately doesn't give us any information in the novel about his crimes. Perhaps he is doesn't tell us preciously about the nature of the crime but, it's possible it's a murder. His demise also illustrates the way the poorer classes were made into scapegoats and there was little value attached to their lives. This shows, always give a second chance to criminals because it's not them, it's their bestial side. His longing to get out of the country and begin anew implies that many lower class criminals had simply become embroiled in crime against their better nature. The description of his close bond with his sister, Mrs Barrymore, also suggests that criminals were ordinary people who had simply gone astray but the Victorians' lack of compassion meant he was treated as an outcast. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Victorians' attitude to crime was ruthless to people who committed crimes particularly murders. Crimes carried out could be caused by the influence of family background, how these people were treated as youngsters; for example in 'The Hound of the Baskervilles,' Rodger Baskerville was regarded by his brother as useless, incompetent, a bit of a fool and was removed from the family. Later his son known in the story as Stapleton wants revenge on the family for what he sees as the betrayal of his father- Rodger. Of all characters in the story, I find that Stapleton is the most interesting because he is not a pure villain in my opinion. He wants to avenge his father which is probably a good reason but he goes about in the wrong way, for example scaring Sir Charles to death and wanting to kill Sir Henry. In my opinion the meaning of this book is we are not purely good or evil; we are twilight or in between such as 'The Darwin Theory' on the beast in man. Another meaning is always give a second chance to everyone. Sherlock Holmes' attitude to crime is not to show mercy and not to be forgiving. Watson, on the other hand, is good, forgiving and always tries to give the enemy a second chance. Watson and Holmes are like two-sides of a coin; they are different yet they make one whole. Holmes and Watson would not be as good crime solvers as they are if they were with anyone else. ...read more.

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