What is the central conflict in The Hound of the Baskervilles? How is this conflict developed through the rising action, climax, and resolution?

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Holmes vs. Stapleton: The main conflict is that Mr. Stapleton is killing heirs to the Baskerville fortune.

The main conflict in the story is Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack Stapleton.  We do not know that Stapleton is the murderer until near the end, but he is the one who killed Charles Baskerville and set the events in motion.  The basis of the conflict is therefore Stapleton’s threat to Henry Baskerville, which Holmes is trying to prevent.  Holmes is trying to identify Stapleton, Stapleton is trying to evade identification.

Rising action events are the events between the exposition, when the characters and setting are introduced, and the climax, when the most exciting event happens.  The climax of a mystery is the turning point, when it is finally solved.

The first event of rising action is that Dr. Watson is dispatched to Baskerville Hall by Holmes (who said he was too busy).  There he snoops around, and meets his suspects.  They include the Barrymores, the servants, the Stapletons (a supposed brother and sister pair), and Mr. Frankland, who likes lawsuits.

One of the oddest events in the rising action is when Watson and Henry Baskerville stay up to try to find out what the Barrymores are up to, only to find out that they are leaving a candle for Mrs. Barrymore’s brother, the convict!  He has been staying out on the moor.  What a red herring.  (A red herring is a false clue.

Rising action event number two is when Miss Stapleton warns Watson to leave the area, thinking he is Sir Henry.  What?

Finally, rising action event number 3 is the best one by far.  This is where Watson sees a very suspicious man out on the moor and goes to investigate.  It’s not the murderer though!  It turns out to be Sherlock Holmes.  He’s been there all along!  Watson is surprised, but as you can tell, Holmes is a little surprised too.  Watson has a bit more skill than he game him credit for.

“The surprise was not all on one side, I assure you. I had no idea that you had found my occasional retreat, still less that you were inside it, until I was within twenty paces of the door.”

Holmes has been having all of his mail forwarded, staying in an ancient hut.  He solves the case, and discovers that Stapleton is a distant heir to the Baskerville fortune and using the legend of the hound.

Where is this brute of a hound which drove him to his death? It may be lurking among these rocks at this instant. And Stapleton, where is he? He shall answer for this deed.” (Ch. 12)

The climax is when they confront him, and the reveal.  Holmes also notes that Miss Stapleton is not his sister but his wife.  She was also playing a role. 

The resolution comes when Stapleton, in an effort to get away, runs off into the moor and gets sunken into the quicksand of the swamp.  He is presumed dead.  Sir Henry is safe.  If he is still sweet on the poor Mrs./Miss Stapleton, I suppose he can marry her and they can live happily ever after.

Holmes always gets his man, but this episode proves that Watson has some deductive skills too.  Holmes was watching everything he did and double checking his work.  Poor John thought that Sherlock was putting a lot of trust in him with this case, when really Holmes was just putting one over on him.  Holmes is selfish and thinks only of himself.  John Watson being John Watson, he seemed to be angry only for a minute, and then just glad the weight of the investigation was no longer on his shoulders.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles

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