Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

The Supernatural

“‘There is a realm in which the most acute and most experienced of detectives is helpless.’ You mean the supernatural?’ ‘I did not positively say so.’ ‘Since tragedy, Mr. Holmes, there have come to my ears several incidents which are hard to reconcile with the settled order of Nature.” (Doyle, 24)

While reading The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle with a lense of Lady Audley’s Secret, the books share aspects associated between the sensation fiction literature genre. We learned of several characteristics or tropes that work as figurative language or symbols to represent something.

A trope found within both novels that are more aligned with the sensation fiction genre is the thriller/Tragedy trope. Within Lady Audley’s Secret, we think we see a crime being committed by one of the characters even if it is never directly stated.

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, the story is focused on a murder chain of a mysterious creature. The detective Sherlock Holmes works to find the culprit and solve the mystery much like Robert did in Lady Audley’s Secret.

A second similar trope of the sensation fictional literature that can be pulled from the two texts from this quote can be families/domestical complications. The complications in LAS are all taking place from a select group of people from the Audley household, with a close family friend involved. The HOB has a murder spring revolving around the Baskerville family, which is yet to be solved. These similarities to me, show that a family drama is very compelling as the family unit was a topic of dispute around this time in England as HOB was published around when divorces were becoming legal.

A trope the books do not share though to contrast them is the gothic trope of the supernatural. The Hound of the Baskervilles revolves around a supernatural being that has yet to be identified but is the source of drama in the novel. In Lady Audley’s Secret, there is no supernatural force within the novel and the drama comes from a real person performing the supposed murder.

1 Comment

  1. I think it is interesting that you bring up how family life plays into these novels. I find it to be a recurring theme and although it may not be a main theme, it is something that gives the reader a sense of what life was like during this century. For instance, in Lady Audley’s Secret, the complicated family life between George, Lady Audley, and Sir Audley or the unhealthy relationship between Phoebe and Luke is something that you would not see as often today but it allows the reader to look at the novel and the events going on through a different point of view. Similarly, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the crooked relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Stapleton plays a big part into the mystery behind the novel.

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