Why does Holmes send Watson to Devonshire? What is Watson’s attitude toward going with Sir Henry? What is Holmes’s attitude about sending Watson?
Holmes believes Sir Henry is in danger and needs, essentially, a bodyguard: “you must take with you someone, a trusty man, who will be always by your side.” Holmes claims he is not available so sends Watson in his stead. Watson indeed may be a better choice regardless: Holmes says Watson is the best companion for someone “in a tight place,” perhaps implying Watson is better at taking swift, violent action if necessary. Watson is at first surprised, but then excited: “The promise of adventure had always a fascination for me.” As typical, he is also flattered by Holmes’s faith in him: “I was complimented by the words of Holmes.” Holmes shows a rare moment of emotion when he describes the trip as “an ugly, dangerous business” and admits he is worried about Watson’s safety: “I shall be very glad to have you back safe and sound in Baker Street once more.”
What can you infer about the man with the black beard? What is Holmes’s attitude toward him, and why?
The man is, in Holmes’s words, “quick and supple”—clever, yet careful, disguising himself and his tracks to make sure Holmes could not identify him. Holmes seems to admire this “cunning rascal.” The man is dangerous and will be a tough match for Holmes (this antagonist is “worthy of our steel”), who relishes the challenge.
What tones does Doyle establish through his description of Baskerville Hall? How does this tone differ from his descriptions of London?
The Hall “glimmered like a ghost.” It is often described as old (“ancient” and “old-fashioned”) and imposingly vast (“large, lofty”). The dining room is full of “shadow and gloom.” The effect is eerie, cold, and unsettling. In contrast, London is busy and vivid, and, especially in the case of Holmes’s rooms, quaint and inviting. The change in setting corresponds to the drastic change in mood and tone, appropriately establishing the grounds for mystery and mayhem.