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The Hound of the Baskervilles

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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How does the writer use language to describe the fog in The Hound of the Baskervilles?

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle uses metaphor, personification, and vivid imagery to describe the fog that covers the moor and surrounds the characters. This fog conceals action but cannot obstruct the hound. It does, however, prevent Holmes and Watson from following the villain into the mire and the villain from ever coming back out.

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The fog on the moors plays a significant role in the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Let's do a survey of the language Arthur Conan Doyle uses to describe this fog.

In chapter 14, we read about a “huge lake of fog” over Grimpen Mire. This metaphor provides us with a mental picture of a large, still, deep body of fog. Shortly afterward, the author adds that the fog is dense and white and that it drifts slowly and sluggishly and forms a wall, “low but thick and well defined.” When the moon shines on it, it seems like “a great shimmering ice-field.” The fog almost seems alive and sentient here, determining for itself how it will move and what shapes it will form.

The personified fog then crawls around the house and rolls into “one dense bank” so that the house's top floor and roof seem to float on a “shadowy sea” of fog. This fog continues to flow, surrounding the characters like a curtain one must step through. The fog takes on the role of concealment here, as if it is trying to hide what is happening on the moor.

The fog, however, is not solid, no matter how much it looks like a wall, for the hound breaks through it easily with little warning. It may conceal, but it does not obstruct a real living creature. It does, however, prevent Holmes and Watson from following the villain into the mire and the villain himself from coming out of that mire alive.

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