Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Sherlock Holmes, the greatest living detective and therefore the logical person for Dr. Mortimer to approach in the case of Sir Charles Baskerville’s death and the possible danger to his heir. As usual, Holmes dazzles Watson and his visitor with his ability to deduce personal history from observable clues, and he is quick to test the possibility that Mortimer and Sir Henry are being followed. Despite this apparent interest in the case, he pleads prior commitment and sends Watson to Devon in his place. This, it turns out, is a ruse that allows Holmes to spend the next days camped in a neolithic ruin on the moor, where he can observe everyone and everything, while receiving Watson’s reports and initiating investigations into Stapleton’s background. When he finally enters Baskerville Hall and sees the family portrait of Sir Hugo, he realizes instantly from the resemblance that Stapleton is a throwback to the evil Hugo, whose death through a demoniac hound occurred while he was trying to rape the daughter of a neighbor. Holmes arranges that Sir Henry’s visit to the Stapletons will be the occasion to flush out and capture Stapleton.
Dr. John Watson
Dr. John Watson, Holmes’s friend, colleague in detection, and chronicler of his adventures. He reports to Holmes by letter from Baskerville Hall, helps to solve the mystery of Barrymore’s odd behavior, observes the odd behavior of Stapleton and his...
(The entire section is 589 words.)
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Themes and Characters
Sherlock Holmes is a private investigator who operates out of his rooms at 221B Baker Street in London, England. Well-to-do, he takes only the cases that interest him. He is high-strung and restless, and, although he finds a creative emotional outlet in playing the violin, it is often not enough to amuse his troubled mind when he is not on a case. He then injects himself with cocaine. It takes years for his associate, Dr. Watson, to wean him away from his addiction but Watson is ultimately successful.
Holmes is tall and obsessively clean. His voice is "cold, incisive, ironical." A brilliant thinker, his education is at once broad and narrow. For example, although he is able to identify different brands of tobacco at a sniff, he knows nothing about astronomy until Dr. Watson explains to him that the earth orbits the sun.
In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes displays his love of the chase; he is delighted at the opportunity to outwit the clever villain and foil his schemes. He is given to dramatic flair; he amazes listeners with his deductions from seemingly slight clues, and he enjoys disguising himself, as though he were an actor. For all his genius, however, he is fallible. In the stories, Professor Moriarty eludes him more than once, and sometimes he fails to adequately protect a client. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, he is at one point convinced that he has allowed the heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, to be killed. This...
(The entire section is 515 words.)
Sherlock Holmes is tall and lean. He is obsessively clean; when he hides in the Grimpen Mire, he not only arranges for supplies of food but for daily clean clothes and opportunities to bathe, as well. His voice is "cold, incisive, ironical." A brilliant thinker, his education is at once large and narrow. Able to identify different brands of tobacco at a sniff, he knows nothing about astronomy until Dr. Watson explains to him that the Earth orbits the Sun. Holmes is obsessed with the intellectual excitement of criminal detection and studies only that which may be of practical value in his investigations. In The Hound of the Baskerviltes, he displays his love of the chase; he is delighted that the villain is, like himself, brilliant, because he takes joy in the contest that the villain's schemes provide. He is given to dramatic Hair; he amazes listeners with his deductions from seemingly slight clues, and he enjoys disguising himself, as though he were an actor. For all his genius, however, he is fallible. In the stories. Professor Moriarty eludes him more than once, and sometimes he fails to adequately protect a client. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, he is at one point convinced that he has allowed Sir Henry Baskerville to be killed. This element of uncertainty in his character enhances the appeal of his stories by allowing for genuine suspense because he makes mistakes. Stapleton — cold, calculating, and ruthless — is a match for Holmes and nearly defeats the...
(The entire section is 887 words.)