The Hound of the Baskervilles

by

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Hound of the Baskervilles: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Soon, Watson, Dr. Mortimer, and Sir Henry are on their way to Baskerville Hall. Holmes admonishes Sir Henry to never go out alone and Watson to always have his revolver near-to-hand. The road to Baskerville Hall is a long one with multiple stages, including a train ride. The scenery changes consistently from urban buildup to a sparsely populated, heavily vegetated rural landscape.
The trip into the country is described in inexact, transitional terms, such that it’s impossible to know for how long the group has travelled, nor how far from London. Fittingly, when they arrive, the sense is that they have not only travelled a long ways in miles, but also centuries back in time.  
Themes
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As they engage on the final leg of their trip, the group encounters a series of heavily armed guards. They learn that a notorious murderer named Selden has escaped from a nearby prison and is believed to be hiding out in the moors. Watson spends some time trying to remember what he knows about Selden’s case, recalling that Selden was a particularly vicious killer who only avoided the death penalty because it wasn’t quite clear that he was sane.
The image of a dangerous criminal hotly pursued by soldiers in a desolate moor is reminiscent of the opening chapters of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. This is partly a function of landscape: the hills, lush vegetation, and exceptionally high rainfall of moors all conspire to make hiding from others easy, if not comfortable.
Themes
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Criminal Nature vs. Criminal Nurture Theme Icon
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At Baskerville Hall, the party is greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore, and Dr. Mortimer departs for home. The Barrymores are happy to meet Sir Henry but are concerned that they won’t be able to keep up with the housekeeping needs of a younger, more social man. They also recall Sir Charles fondly, and remark that the house doesn’t feel like home anymore since his death.
While both Sir Charles and Sir Henry were bachelors, the younger Sir Henry would have been expected to engage in a much broader social life than his predecessor. This would have almost certainly included finding a suitable wife and having children.
Themes
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Watson and Sir Henry both find the Hall gloomy and depressing, though they’re impressed by the long line of family portraits. They go to bed early, but Watson is awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of a crying woman.
While not a gothic novel per se, The Hound of the Baskervilles dabbles in gothic imagery here. The portraits and the mysterious crying woman are both genre staples.
Themes
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Criminal Nature vs. Criminal Nurture Theme Icon
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