Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Homosocial Relationships When Looking Through a Lens

“I will not bias your mind by suggesting theories or suspicions, Watson… I wish you simply to report facts in the fullest possible manner to me, and you can leave me to do the theorizing.” (pg. 53)


The Hounds of the Baskervilles and Lady Audley’s Secret are both starkly different novels. For instance, there is a significantly less amount of women in the previous. However, both novels do have a strikingly similar thing in common: when reading the Hounds of the Baskervilles though a lends of Lady Audley’s Secret, one is able to see a dominant homosocial power exerted in both novels.

In Lady Audley’s Secret, there is a significant homosocial relationsip between George Talboys and Robert Audley. While at a surface’s glance Robert and George seem to be on an equal status, there is evidence throughout the novel that proves that their homosocial relationship is slightly unbalanced. Even though Robert has his own setbacks, he is seen as a parental figure to George, whether it is longing to care for him again or constantly being on the lookout to make sure he is okay.

While there is no sexual power present between Holmes and Watson, there is defenitely a homosocial relationship where Holmes is slightly more autoriative. While both rely on each other heavily, Holmes still tends to be slighltly more condescending towards Watson. Holmes is able to work with Watson as long as Watson does not crack the case himself; that is why Holmes tells Watson to only report the bare facts and nothing else. Earlier in the passage, it mentions that Holmes is almost “parenting” Watson, as if Watson is still learning from Holmes. It is mentioned earlier in the passage that Holmes said this to Watson as some “parental advice”, almost as if Watson is being trained, or “raised” by Holmes.

In conclusion, when looking at Hound of the Baskervilles through the lens of Lady Audley’s Secret, there are some strinking similarities that can be pulled from the two novels.


  1. In chapter 12, a similar moment demonstrates Holmes dominance over Watson. All within the same page, Holmes manages to both compliment and condescend Watson. The detective praises our narrator by telling him, “my dear fellow, you have been invaluable to me in this as in many other cases” (Conan Doyle, 123); yet, just lines later, Watson questions why Holmes kept him “in the dark?” (Conan Doyle, 123) if he is vital to the case. Readers also see the supremacy Holmes holds considering, “I was still rather raw over the deception which had been practiced upon me, but the warmth of Holmes’s praise drove my anger from my mind” (Conan Doyle, 123). This is evidence of homosocial behavior at it’s finest considering only Holmes could make Watson feel anything other than irritation in this situation.

  2. I completely agree with your analysis. Holmes shows the way he feels about Watson right from the first couple of pages of the novel. The way that Holmes almost tests Watson expresses the fact that while Holmes views himself as superior to Watson he is still affectionate towards him and sees his potential. This is also shown when Watson is about to leave for Baskerville Hall and Holmes mentions his worries and concerns about sending him off. Holmes may give the impression that Watson needs him more but there are undertones in the text that suggest Holmes has greater feelings for Watson than he wants people to believe.

  3. I find it intriguing the connections that can be made between these two groups of men from different novels. There is a connection between Robert and George in Lady Audley’s Secret and then between Holmes and Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles. However, I think the relationships can be read in two different ways. I think George and Robert are on more of an equal status to one another, than Holmes and Watson. Holmes is clearly more a parental figure to Watson than Robert was to George. Robert attempted to help George recover from his broken heart, and he never gave up on his investigation into George’s disappearance, but I do not think that made Robert a parental figure to George. Robert was simply being a good friend, and I believe George had the same capabilities of Robert and would have used them the same way Robert did had the situation been reversed. It is hard to say because the readers are shown only Robert’s side of the relationship because George is missing for half the novel, but George’s reason for returning from New York lead me to believe he equally admires his friendship with Robert. However, I think Holmes is smarter and more experienced than Watson. Watson is not able to investigate situations the same way as Holmes, therefore Holmes is training him and assisting him with detective work. I do not think Holmes looks down on Watson, but Watson does look up to Holmes more. They are at different places in their lives and have a different working dynamic than Robert and George had. I believe the relationship between Holmes and Watson is more of an unequal status than the one between Robert and George.

    I like that you pointed out the fact that there are less women in The Hound of the Baskervilles. I am interested to see though if Miss Stapleton bares any resemblance to Lady Audley. From what we have been introduced to so far pertaining to Miss Stapleton it seems she uses her beauty like Lady Audley did to distract people from her true identity and to protect her secret, but it might be too early to tell if they are secrets kept for the same reasons. I am ready to find out though!

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