In The Hound of the Baskervilles, what are at least three character traits displayed by Sherlock Holmes? Does Holmes exhibit any character development in the narrative?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One trait of Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles is his dogged determination.  He is not scared from his goal.  What he sets out to do, he does. Mysticism and superstition does not deter him.  Holmes uses his determination to whittle down conjecture and form fact.  An example of his determination is when he misdirects Watson so that he can be camped in a neolithic ruin on the moor and observe everything.  Holmes is willing to isolate himself in order to better understand the situation and figure out the mystery. He represents the sense of order in a world where disorder exists. Holmes's insistence that he "presumes nothing" is reflective of the sense of order and determination that he embodies throughout the novel in solving the mystery. In order to serve in this capacity, Holmes must be determined, a quality that never dissipates in the novel.

At the same time, Holmes' observant nature is what enables him to understand the facts and solve the case.  Holmes recognizes the likeness between Hugo Baskerville's portrait and Mr. Stapleton, a critical piece of insight that helps him solve the mystery.  Holmes recognizes that it was phosphorus used to enhance the appearance of the hound, significantly denting one of the beliefs that shrouded solving the mystery.  Holmes emphasizes this to Watson:  "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”   Holmes's observant nature is seen in his isolation on the moor.  He isolates himself from all others so that nothing can get in the way of his observation and deductions, elements that allow him to solve the mystery.

Finally, Holmes is exceedingly confident.  There is little to reflect that Holmes is stumped.  Even at points where there is no clarity on what is happening, Holmes exudes a sense of confidence.  At moments when Watson doubts, Holmes demonstrates total control and absolutism: "It is murder, Watson -- refined, cold-blooded, deliberate murder. Do not ask me for particulars. My nets are closing upon him, even as his are upon Sir Henry, and with your help he is already almost at my mercy." In a setting where confusion and doubt envelop so many, Holmes is resolute in his confidence and his determined way of seeing reality. There are few ambiguities in Holmes's schematic. There are problems and there are answers to them.  Holmes's purpose is to find these answers.

In many respects, Holmes is shown to embody these traits from start to finish.  He does not change in terms of narrative characterization.  Holmes is the force of reason and order in the start, middle, and end of the narrative.  Doyle's construction is deliberate in that Holmes is the force of restoration and order in a world devoid of it.

gisellerm | Student

The story is Sherlock Holmes The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Read the study guide:
The Hound of the Baskervilles

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