The Hound of the Baskervilles

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Curriculet Details
46 Questions
57 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring literary techniques such as figurative language, characterization, and structure, as well as annotations describing the historical background and cultural significance of Sherlock Holmes as a character, the moors of England as a setting, and the mystery story as a genre. Students will explore themes concerning the conflict between the rational world and the supernatural. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1 - Mr. Sherlock Holmes

First created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the Victorian era around 1880, this famous character can still be seen in popular culture today. Even as today's writers "update" his persona, Sherlock Holmes remains the same at heart. What does the silhouette below suggest about the character? 
This discussion between Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Watson serves as a quick introduction to both characters. What can logically be inferred by the statement, "You know my methods"? 
You may have been surprised to notice that Sherlock Holmes is not the narrator of this story: instead, it is his assistant, Dr. Watson. By using a first-person narrator other than the great detective, the author keeps the reader apart from what's truly going on in the mind of Sherlock Holmes. Why do you think the author chooses to do this? 
Dr. Mortimer has an interest in phrenology, which is the study of the structure of the skull in order to determine a person's character. As you read this work, notice the references to science and scientific study. They will be relevant to the themes of the novel. (This annotation contains an image)
You're certainly aware that authors consider word choice carefully, but pay attention to Doyle's sentence structure, also called syntax, as well. In this conversation between Holmes and Mortimer, each time the author chooses to use a dash, what does this indicate to the reader? 

Chapter 2 - The Curse of the Baskervilles

Notice the formal diction, or word choice, in this passage. Since it's different from the diction of the novel up to this point, it should stand out to a careful reader. Why might the author choose to vary the diction and make it more formal here? 
"The Hound of the Baskervilles" was inspired at least in part by a real life legend - or, more appropriately, a ghost story. Take a look at the artwork below. What is so frightening about this "hound"? (This annotation contains an image)
Based upon this statement given at the end of Mortimer's gory tale, what can you infer about Sherlock Holmes? 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
According to the text that Mortimer is reading to Sherlock Holmes, which of the following is true about the facts surrounding the death of Charles Baskerville? 
Watch the clip below. How does this modern adaptation of the story both deviate from what you've just read and support it?  (This annotation contains a video)
This question by Holmes is important to one of the developing themes of this novel: the rational, scientific mind is capable of discovering any truth. Even though Mortimer's story leads the reader to get wrapped up in a ghost story, Holmes remains skeptical of anything that is not explained rationally. Where else have you seen evidence of Holmes's intolerance for what he considers to be fanciful stories? 
Based on previous details about his character, which of the following is the most likely reason why Mortimer whispers this line? 

Chapter 3 - The Problem

The previous chapter ended on what is called a "cliff-hanger." The author wrote this novel in a serial format for The Strand magazine between 1901-1902. Why might cliff-hanger endings be popular with serial magazine publishers such as this one? (This annotation contains an image)
How is the pacing of this chapter different from the previous chapters? 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
An allusion, or a reference to a well-known work, requires that the reader has a cultural understanding beyond the text. Watch this quick video to understand what an allusion - not to be confused with an illusion - is. In this case, what allusion is Sherlock making?  (This annotation contains a video)
What internal conflict is Mortimer experiencing? 
Have you noticed that Holmes himself is something of a scientist? When confronted with a problem, he employs deductive reasoning and the scientific method to uncover the truth. Watch this brief introduction to a video about Holmes below. Where do you see evidence of his scientific mind at work already in this novel?  (This annotation contains a link)
One of the most noteworthy aspects of this novel is the effect that the setting has on the mood and atmosphere of the story. Pay close attention to descriptions of the setting throughout the novel. For more information on how setting influences a novel, see the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
Based on your understanding of this conversation between Holmes and Watson, what does Holmes feel is the most important question that must be answered? 

Chapter 4 - Sir Henry Baskerville

Which of the following is true about the author's word choice and tone in this paragraph? 
Foreshadowing is one of the mystery author's most commonly used techniques. This technique also plays an important role in building tension in movies and television shows. View the video below; then, be on the lookout for examples of foreshadowing throughout the novel.  (This annotation contains a video)
These words help establish a theme that will develop: careful observation of minute details can lead to the truth. Holmes firmly believes that there is a logical explanation for anything, but people must sometimes search for the facts and rule out faulty theories. For more information about emerging themes, see the following video. Use this information to guide you in understanding themes within this novel.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is most likely to be true regarding the missing boot incident? 
Here is another reference to one of our emerging themes. The conflict between the rational, scientific world and the supernatural is becoming clear. Which side does Holmes favor? What will have to happen in order for one side or the other to "win" the conflict? 
As Holmes chases the man who's been following Sir Henry, the author changes the pacing of his writing to match the tension in the scene. What specific words and phrases does the author use to heighten tension in this scene? Pay particular attention to verbs, adjectives, and adverbs as you analyze the text.  
Notice the appearance of each man in this scene. Why would the porters who work at the hotels be more likely to speak to Cartwright than Holmes or even Watson? What does this detail tell you about social customs in Victorian England? (This annotation contains an image)
If it is unlikely that Cartwright will be able to successfully complete this task, then why is he assigned to do it? 

Chapter 5 - Three Broken Threads

The "threads" of the mystery that are mentioned here are also reflected in the chapter title. Watson and Holmes will both continue to use this metaphor later in the novel as well. This type of metaphor, in which the author makes a comparison and then continues to add detail to that comparison throughout a work, is known as an extended metaphor. What does the metaphor mean? 
What is the purpose of including this detail? 
Motivation is a powerful force for characters, leading them to make important decisions. In this case, Holmes believes that the value of the Baskerville estate provides motivation for a criminal. As you meet new characters (and possible suspects), consider their motivation when they do things that seem to be out of the ordinary. Whose motivations seem to be pure or good, and whose seem to be selfish? 
Why does Holmes laugh at such a strange moment? 
Quiz, Chapters 1-5 

Chapter 6 - Baskerville Hall

With Holmes out of the picture, we will see the case unfold through the eyes of Watson. Once again, the author wants to keep Holmes and his theories away from the reader for the time being. What is the purpose of this choice? 
How does the author use this long description of Henry to influence our growing perception of the character? 
The desolate moors of Devon, where Baskerville Hall is located, have long been a source of myths and legends. To get a feel for the setting, view this interactive map of Dartmoor National Park. In the Postbridge section of the map, click on the "Myths and Legends" link to hear first-hand accounts of these stories and to see the land that has inspired so many tales. What effect does this setting have on the story?  (This annotation contains a link)
Based on previous details given in the text, what can you infer that Sir Henry is truly asking when he says, "Was it here?" 
The illustration below of Baskerville Hall is from a TV movie of this story. How do the text and the image work together to create a certain atmosphere upon our arrival in this place? (This annotation contains an image)
The author uses a great deal of figurative language, such as the personification shown in this paragraph, to describe the setting of Baskerville Hall and the surrounding moor. Watch the video to help you identify the exact lines containing personification. Continue to notice such language throughout this section of the story.  (This annotation contains a video)
In the course of one short chapter, we are suddenly transported from logical, bustling London to a strangely silent and eerie setting. Use details from this paragraph and throughout this chapter to compare and contrast the settings of Baskerville Hall and the moor with London and 221 Baker Street. 

Chapter 7 - The Stapletons of Merripit House

How has the character of Barrymore developed thus far in the story? 
Watson is approached by Mr. Stapleton, one of the few "gentleman" neighbors Holmes had mentioned earlier. Compare his appearance in the illustration below with the description of him in the text. What do the details in both lead you to infer about this new character? (This annotation contains an image)
What does Mr. Stapleton's word choice here indicate about him as a character? 
The fictional Grimpen Mire is based on the real-life Fox Tor Mires. The swampy land is indeed treacherous, and locals still avoid it due to notorious legends of men being sucked down into the bog to their deaths. It is interesting that Stapleton seems to enjoy this place that his neighbors avoid. What does this detail lead you to infer about the character? (This annotation contains an image)
The reference to "a pair of ravens" would not have been lost on the author's Victorian audience. The raven has been a symbol of secrecy and even death in art throughout the ages. Why might the author choose to include this symbol at this point in the story? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is true about Miss Stapleton's strange warning to Watson? 
Watson's eventful stroll across the moors is part of the rising action of this story, where the conflict continues to build and become more complicated. Watch the following video to understand more about how tension, conflict, and mood are related. What mood does Doyle create by increasing the tension in this chapter?  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 8 - First Report of Dr. Watson

The circular rings that Watson asks Stapleton about in this fictional story are a very real part of the history of Dartmoor, as shown in the photograph below. The author describes the moors in great detail throughout Watson's stay at Baskerville Hall. Continue to pay attention to the detailed description of the moors: how do these details continue to build conflict and tension?  (This annotation contains an image)
The beginning of this letter to Holmes helps illustrate the differences between Holmes and our narrator. Which of the following is true? 
Watch the following video about two important types of characters. It can be difficult to determine the antagonist in a mystery since the author tends to present several characters as options. What details in this paragraph appear to be establishing the Stapleton siblings as possible antagonists? Who else is a possibility at this point in the story? (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Stapleton's apparent belief in the supernatural ironic? 
Authors vary their sentence structure when trying to convey new or important ideas. For example, these fragmented questions stand out when compared to the complex, detailed narration of the rest of this chapter. What is the purpose of changing the structure here? 
What is the author's purpose in having Watson write, "I do not trouble you with my theories"?  

Chapter 9 - Second Report of Dr. Watson

What internal conflict is Watson facing? 
The image of Stapleton with "his absurd net dangling behind him" is an interesting one that contrasts with the calm, collected Stapleton we've seen before. Compare the illustration below with the text. What can you infer from the posture and gestures of each character? (This annotation contains an image)
It may surprise the modern reader to learn that Sir Henry is willing to propose marriage so quickly. In terms of Victorian era courtship, however, his pursuit of her would be quite understandable. Take a look at the cartoon below. Compare and contrast the image of this threesome with details of this scene in the text. (This annotation contains an image)
"The tangled skein" is a metaphor for what? 
Based on textual evidence, what is Mrs. Barrymore's motivation? 
Tone, or the author's attitude toward a particular subject, can be a difficult concept within a work of fiction. However, if you look closely at the author's word choice, you can often determine his tone. Based on the word choice in this paragraph, what do you think is the author's tone toward Mrs. Barrymore's decision to help an escaped felon? 
The imagery that the the author uses to describe this sound is terrifying. Listen to the first twenty seconds of the audio clip below. Which is more frightening to you: the audio version, or the description in the text?  (This annotation contains a video)
What type of figurative language is evident in the phrase, "freeze my very blood"? 
It is no accident that the author uses an animal metaphor here: should the reader begin to think that this escaped convict is the "hound" roaming the moors? Perhaps this man is the logical answer that Sherlock Holmes is sure exists - but then how can one explain the howling heard on the moors? The conflict between what is rational and what is supernatural continues to build.  
Imagine coming upon this scene upon the desolate moors at night. Watson is convinced he sees this man, but he is not convinced that the man is flesh and blood. What do you think is the purpose for including this detail in the story?  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 10 - Extract from the Diary of Dr. Watson

As the plot thickens, Watson continues to grapple with our essential conflict: is there a rational explanation for this crime, or is there actually some truth to the supernatural theory? What evidence exists on both sides of the conflict?  
If you suspected Barrymore of killing Sir Charles, which the author clearly intended, then you have fallen for what is known in mystery writing as a "red herring." A red herring is a clue that is included by an author to be intentionally distracting or misleading. What other potential leads will turn out to be red herrings by the end of the story? Why would an author want the audience to be misled? 
The character of Watson is hotly debated among literary critics, some of whom see him as a kind and admirable character, and others who view him as gullible and even somewhat unintelligent. Use specific details from this paragraph and elsewhere in the chapter to explain your own analysis of Watson. 
According to Dr. Mortimer, what motivation did Stapleton, Mortimer, and Sir Charles have for helping this woman with a somewhat questionable reputation? 
Quiz, Chapters 6-10 

Chapter 11 - The Man on the Tor

So far, the author has chosen to vary the structure of the narrative in three different ways. From the traditional storytelling of the first several chapters, Watson's letters, and the extracts from Watson's journals, what does the reader gain or lose from each structure? Why might an author choose to vary narrative structure within the same story? 
In the Victorian era, divorce was taboo. In the court system, single women had more rights than those who were divorced or married and deserted. How does this information influence your understanding of Miss Laura Lyons, including her physical description here? 
Based on Laura's reaction, you can tell that during the Victorian era, a true "gentleman" could be trusted to keep his word to a woman. Keep this detail in mind at the end of the novel when you learn more about the ironic treatment of both Laura and Beryl Stapleton. 
Watson feels that Laura Lyons is hiding something. Read back through their conversation. Consider her words and actions, as well as the narrator's direct characterization. What specific details support his feeling that she is untrustworthy?  
What observation is Watson making about the character of Frankland? 
Notice how the author describes the setting here. How does this description affect the tension in this scene? What specific words and images help increase the tension? 

Chapter 12 - Death on the Moor

Notice the foreshadowing in this title. What questions does the author cause you to ask by using such a title? 
What do the details in this paragraph lead us to understand about Sherlock Holmes? 
The statement "when I was so imprudent as to allow the moon to rise behind me" is an example of hyperbole, or an exaggeration. Holmes obviously has no power over the rise and fall of the moon. What does this offhand statement of his indicate about his confidence in himself and his abilities? 
It is interesting to notice that the cool, methodical, scientific Stapleton is actually very much like Sherlock Holmes, except that one appears to be a murderer and the other catches them. What in this description could actually also be said about Holmes? What is the critical difference between them? 
The motivation of Laura Lyons eluded Watson and Holmes - until now. What was her motivation in writing the letter to Sir Charles? 
Luckily, Sir Henry is still safe. However, the conflict has risen to the point where something must be done about the murderer before he commits another crime. This scene helps leads us to the climax, or point of highest conflict, within the novel.  
Based on what you can infer from the text, why is Stapleton so disappointed when he discovers Selden's dead body? 

Chapter 13 - Fixing the Nets

This is not the first time we have seen that Watson chooses very different methods from Sherlock Holmes. In this way, he serves as a foil to the great detective. For more information on character foils, see the following video. How can you apply this knowledge to other characters within this story? (This annotation contains a video)
Which sentence in this passage must clearly shows the author's tone about the death of a criminal? 
Based on the context in which it occurs, what is the purpose of the syntax (sentence structure) in this line? 
What type of figurative language is included in this line? 
Notice how unhappy Sir Henry is when he believes he is being left alone. Watch the following video that explains the difference between static and dynamic characters. Which is Sir Henry, and how can you tell?  (This annotation contains a video)
Use the Define feature for the word programme.  Based on the context of the sentence in which it is used, which definition is most accurate? 
The author extends the metaphor he established earlier: Stapleton is the "lean-jawed pike," and Holmes has devised an elaborate net in which to catch him. The inevitable moment of confrontation will become the climax of the novel. For more information on the basic parts of plot structure, see the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
Laura's actions become helpful once her motivation changes. What is her motivation in now telling the truth about her letter to Sir Charles? 
Inspector Lestrade would have been a familiar character to the author's fans; he appeared in thirteen Sherlock Holmes tales. Like Watson, he often serves as a foil to Holmes. Why might the author choose to include him in the plan to catch Stapleton? 

Chapter 14 - The Hound of the Baskervilles

Why would "the thought of that lonely walk" be so disturbing to Sir Henry at this point in the novel? 
Notice the references to time and timing during this climactic scene. Why does the author choose to emphasize these details? 
What technique does the author most clearly use to describe the hound as we see it at last? 
Television screens, computer monitors, flourescent lighting, and glow-in-the-dark products all contain phosphors. What would this chemical add to the dog's appearance, and what does the use of it suggest about Stapleton?  (This annotation contains an image)
The butterflies that this horrible man traps and collects, similar to the image below, serve as a metaphor for his treatment of his wife. How is this clearly seen in this passage? What other details in the novel support this connection?  (This annotation contains an image)
This statement helps to establish Sir Henry as a __________ character.  
Some people who read this novel see the Grimpen Mire as a sort of metaphor for Stapleton himself and even as a symbol for his murderous plotting. What details in this description of the mire would support that theory?  
The following video clip shows a slightly different version of the climax. After viewing it, look back at the details in the text to compare / contrast the two treatments of the same scene.  (This annotation contains a video)
The moor is such an essential part of this novel that it serves as something of an antagonist itself. What details about the moor prove essential to this novel's plot and themes? Use specific details from the text to support your answer.  

Chapter 15 - A Retrospection

This final chapter, acting as a denouement or resolution of the reader's final questions, is a hallmark of Sherlock Holmes stories. Watch the first six minutes of the following rare interview with the author. What do you learn about his inspiration, not only for the character of Sherlock, but also for the structure of his novels? (This annotation contains a video)
What is noteworthy about the author's choice to have Sherlock Holmes review the events of the Baskerville case? 
What do all of these details related to Stapleton's plot most clearly reveal about him as a character? 
The conflict between the supernatural and rational worlds is made clear yet again. Explain Holmes's statement here in your own words. How is this theme introduced, developed, and then resolved over the course of the novel? 
Quiz, Chapters 11-15 
Now that the case is thoroughly solved, take a look at the comic below. What point is the artist making through his use of satire? How can the purpose of this comic relate to themes within this novel?  (This annotation contains an image)