The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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I need to analyze the nature and psychology of guilt in Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone and Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervillesfor an essay. I have no idea where to begin or who to look at. The guilty...

I need to analyze the nature and psychology of guilt in Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone and Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles for an essay. I have no idea where to begin or who to look at. The guilty characters don't seem guilty or remorseful to me. Whom should I analyze? How should I approach this broad topic? Thanks!

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Collins's Moonstone and Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, characters are often confused about each others' and their own guilt. Innocent people often seem guilty, while guilty people often seem innocent. The Moonstone is particularly interesting because one of the narrators, Franklin Blake, who is collecting the documents necessary to the case, turns out to be the culprit. Unknown to himself, he has taken the diamond that is at the center of the story while drugged. While uncovering this whodunit, he finds that he has unwittingly committed the crime, so his narration throws off the reader. In addition, the aptly named Godfrey Ablewhite, a good-looking, rich man, seems the picture of innocence until he is revealed to be guilty. Therefore, appearances are not what they seem. Two innocent-seeming men are shown to be guilty, while the Indians accused of the crime are innocent. However, while Franklin Blake and Godfrey Ablewhite are both guilty, one is guilty purposefully, while the other is guilty through no fault of his own (because he has been drugged). Therefore, Collins implies that guilt also involves purposeful deceit. This is an interesting psychological perspective on guilt that you could examine further. 

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes and Watson suspect Barrymore, Baskerville's butler, as he has a beard and a bearded man was seen following Sir Henry Baskerville. However, the true culprit and the killer of Sir Charles Baskerville turns out to be Jack Stapleton. Again, as in The Moonstone, appearances are deceptive, as Stapleton appears to be a harmless scientist. He is actually a descendant of Hugo Baskerville, the evil Baskerville. Therefore, Doyle implies that Stapleton's evil is inherited and that there is a biological component to guilt. This would also be an interesting angle to examine. 

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