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Understanding the Hound of the Baskervilles: Who Is the True Hero---Holmes Vs. Watson?

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Introduction:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 into an Irish Catholic family. Probably affected by his father’s tragic death from mental illness, he later rejected the Catholic faith and turned his interest in science. From 1876 to 1881, Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. This period also sees his involvement in practical botany. After his graduation he took up a job on a ship to the West Africa, working as a surgeon. All these experiences have left traces in his later novel writing. For example, his medical practice helps his fictional detective Holmes in The Hound to rule out instinctively the possibility of Charles’ death from a heart attack; likewise, his expertise in botany facilitates his creation of the murderous character Stapleton as a naturalist. In 1887 he published A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels featuring Holmes and Dr. Watson as a smart team of detectives. For fans of detective stories, the Sherlock Holmes series are the watershed literary works in the field of crime fiction.

Holmes vs. Watson: Which One Shines Better?

The Hound of the Baskervilles is considered to be one of Doyle’s most famous detective novels. It’s generously hailed as a marvellous adventure in which Sherlock Holmes and Watson, with their incredible intelligence and observation, crack down an artful crime which is intended by the criminal to disguise as an accident caused by a family curse. But over the question of who shines better between Holmes and Watson under Conan’s pen, critics are widely split with their arguments. Some critics insist that Watson has substituted Holmes to be the focus. They point out that with Watson functioning as the customary narrator like that in other Holmes series though, this story takes on a new direction in that there are very few lines dedicated to Holmes’ speeches and actions. As the lay-out of the plot indicates, Watson seems to be the chosen protagonist other than Holmes instead, despite subsequent adapted movies and videos lavish their generous investment in Holmes’ screen image. Critics proceed to fortify their argument by citing some paragraphs in which the plot is unfolded in the form of a letter or evolved on the accounts by Watson, and where the description of Holmes runs no more than two or three sentences, thus readers might be seduced to view Watson as the true hero.

Admittedly, the description concentrated on Holmes in The Hound falls a bit short, but a closer reading will help dismiss the misinterpretation of him being slighted. Based on a careful scrutiny, this essay will re-clarify the factors that will justify Holmes’ place as a leading hero, retrieving evidences on how Conan paints a radiant detective in full dimension by endowing Holmes with the following extraordinary qualities.

First: Bearing Keen Eyes

Conan grants Holmes generously keen eyes and quick wits. Subtle details that may easily evade an ordinary eye are equal to coded cryptogram to Holmes, waiting for him to decipher. Judging from a walking stick, Holmes identifies its owner, Mortimer, as an old-fashioned doctor. The cleanliness of Watson’s clothes is helpful enough source for him to unravel the fact that Watson stays in the club all day. And with piles of ashes around the corpse, he is able to picture that Mr. Charles stands there smoking and expecting someone to come before his death. In another case, by examining an anonymous note composed of printed words with only one exceptional letter in handwriting, he works out its links with a newspaper article and soon locates the suspect. Still another time a missing boot affords him a valuable clue to extrapolate a hound’s involvement in the crime; and a family painting on the wall sheds light to him immediately on the true identity of the so-called naturalist in disguise. Actually throughout the novel, Holmes’ keen eyes never fail him to weave an efficient web and to finally capture the murderer. It is indeed with this pair of keen eyes that Holmes can see through those seemingly disparate irrelevant

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