Symbolism in Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’: a Mystery Novel

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Updated: Sep 07, 2023
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The first symbol can be found in the opening scene of the book: the walking stick, of which the owner is unknown. The walking stick has the letters CCH engraved in it. From this Holmes is able to determine that Mortimer has a connection with the Charing Cross Hospital. He also determines that Mortimer is a “young fellow under thirty, amiable, unambitious, absent-minded, and the possessor of a favourite dog.” All of these conclusions are correct. This shows the reader Holmes ability of deduction and rational thinking.

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This is not a one time occurence, this happens throughout the novel. In fact, that is the whole novel, Holmes detective skills. The walking stick scene, being the first seen gives the reader insight into the story and foreshadows how the mystery will be solved.

Another symbol to be found in this novel is that of the weather. More specifically, the gloom, the fog, the darkness. These types of weather patterns can be seen throughout the novel. This is a mystery novel afterall, so it seems as though these would be necessary in creating suspense. While this is true, the weather means something more. It is a symbol of the actual curse of the Baskervilles. The hound attacks in the cover of the night, in the cover of the fog. Sir Henry is warned not to go out onto the moor alone, especially at night. This darkness represents evil that inspires fear and causes death. While trying to catch the culprit, Holmes states, “Our success and even his life may depend upon his coming out before the fog is over the path.”  This darkness that the fog brings will hinder the goodness of the acts of Holmes. The evil of the dark will prevent justice from being served.

Symbolism can again be seen in this novel through the Grimpen Mire. The Mirriam-Webster defines mire as being one of two things. First, wet, spongy earth, such as what is described in the novel. Second, it is defined as a troublesome situtaion that is difficult to get out of. This is what the Grimpen Mire represents. A situation for the Baskervilles that holds them back. The Baskervilles seem to be bound to the evils of the mire. At the end of the novel, when Stapleton’s true identity is discovered, it is seen how the Baskerville’s recent family history, has been controlled by Stapleton’s desire for wealth. With the mire overtaking Stapleton, the Baskerville’s are in a sense freed. The mire has taken what has been holding back the family.

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Symbolism in Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’: A Mystery Novel. (2022, Jun 27). Retrieved from