How does the very appearance of the moor help establish an atmosphere of dread in The Hound of the Baskervilles?

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coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the worst things about the moors of the West Country in England is the absolute absence of light - they are terrifying places at night even without the threat of a hound - I know because I have lived there! In The Hound of The Baskervilles,Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was merely building on a fear that was already there in the minds of the local people and giving flesh to its spirit. There are many tales of Beasts, Hounds and Devils on the moor - perhaps because from ancient times people tried to make sense of their fears of a place that was dark, wet, icily windy,eerily noisy, misty and confusing. Even in broad daylight, the weather can change in a an instant and the friendly village lights in the distance can be blotted out in a befuddling fog. Underfoot, what looks like solid grass can actually be the treacherous green of sphagnum moss - the quagmire moss that covers deep freezing watery pools with a reassuring-looking blanket of green! The rocks in the distance are worn and woven into eerie gargoyle shapes and once the moon comes up ...well... there are the ghoulish noises! So, it was not really that good writing on Doyles part - writing about the scariness of the moor is easy!

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this story, the moor is part of what is frightening, and not just because of the hound.

First of all, the moor is empty and wild.  We are told early on, when Holmes is looking at the map, that hardly anyone lives there.  That lets our imagination roam and we can believe that there could be a hellhound out there.

Then, in Chapter 6, Conan Doyle starts to describe the moor itself.  He uses words like "melancholy," "strange,"  "fantastic,"  "jagged" and even "forbidding."  It is a "huge expanse" with cold winds blowing off it causing its trees to be stunted and twisted and bent.

This kind of description helps to make us feel that nothing good can be associated with the moor.

mkcapen1 | Student

In Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle takes the reader into the scene of the Moors in order to set up an eerie and frightening tone.  In order for the hound from hell to provide the scare and haunting experience the reader's mind must be aware of the fears that the moor evokes.

The moor is foggy and eerie.  It is a desolate are with rocks protruding in jagged stoops throughout.  It is cold and moist and causes the reader to visualize a chill running up his back as he enters into the moor and hears the howl of the hound.

Doyle states in chapter 6;

There rose in the distance a gray, melancholy hill, with a strange jagged summit, dim and vague in the distance.

He described the moor as gray and melancholy, a depressing and damp place in which to visit.

ellieleman | Student

Everyone dreads the moor and also it is a wide open, scary, dreadful place just by the looks and the sounds it  makes or the sounds the hound makes. It gives you the chills just being by it.

The moor is a very depressing place!!!!!

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

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