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Intelligence through the Meeting of the Rational and the Supernatural in Doyles (1901) The Hound of the Baskervilles - Essay Example

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This paper studies the tension between the supernatural and the natural. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle demonstrates that the two should not even collide because human intelligence works best, when the supernatural provides the imaginative material for the scientific mind…
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Intelligence through the Meeting of the Rational and the Supernatural in Doyles (1901) The Hound of the Baskervilles
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Download file to see previous pages The novel explores the tension between the supernatural and the rational, where some people tend to see the supernatural as rural, an inferior way of thinking that must be vanquished through pure European rational thinking. To believe in the supernatural is animalistic because it arouses only human instincts, particularly fear. The hound is a metaphor for the animalistic basis of the supernatural, which is why even Mortimer believes the hound to be true. Upon seeing giant hound footprints near the body of his friend, he cannot help but somehow believe in it, but he does not want to publicise such a mysterious detail because “...a man of science shrinks from placing himself in the public position of seeming to indorse a popular superstition” (Doyle, 1901, p.26). He believes that the supernatural is not aligned with rational minds, especially rational professions. The hound arouses primal fear and frightens people, pushing them to flight, instead of determining the truth. The hound, furthermore, resides in the rural imagination, a place that, as the novel suggests, nurtures backward thinking. Mortimer, as he explains the fright over the moor, focuses on country characters whom he interviewed, the “hard-headed countryman, one a farrier, and one a moorland farmer” (Doyle, 1901, p.35). The use of these characters suggests that the supernatural resides in rural areas, where people do not use logic to understand their conditions. As a result, they need someone to protect them from their irrational beliefs. Mortimer wants to help Henry Baskerville because “it cannot be denied that the prosperity of the whole poor, bleak country-side depends upon his presence” (Doyle, 1901, p.37). Charles Baskerville represents the seat of logic and power, a means for people, who believe in the supernatural, to cope with their distress over the hound’s curse. To deepen the analysis of the supernatural, this paper understands how it is connected to the rural. The countryside has been turned into, not only an idyllic place, but a world of sinister energy. Watson (1901) describes the rural setting in contradicting ways: “...but behind the peaceful and sunlit country-side there rose ever, dark against the evening sky, the long, gloomy curve of the moor, broken by the jagged and sinister hills” (Doyle, 1901, p.89). The countryside, in general, is simplified as idyllic, but its essence is portrayed as forbidding. Fisher (2004) reviews the current literature on The Hound of the Baskervilles, noting that even 100 years after its publication, it continues to interest scholarship inquiries. He mentions the countryside setting of the novel and suggests how the countryside has been used as a metaphor for the supernatural through its natural nature. The natural has become supernatural, as Doyle (1901) uses the mystery of the moor to capture the mystery of the occult. Another way of seeing the centrality of white male power is that it signifies how dominant classes employ rationality as a defence for their conquering ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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