Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

The Mysteries of Lady Audley’s Secret and The Hound of the Baskervilles

Lady Audley’s Secret and The Hound of the Baskervilles are both classic mystery tales that captivate readers by setting up central questions and problems for them to solve.  They share the same themes of death, murder, missing persons, and crime.

A huge difference between the two novels is the involvement of the supernatural in The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Lady Audley’s Secret focuses more on the complexity of humans, what they are capable of,  and what they could be hiding.   When trying to figure out what happened to George or what exactly Lady Audley’s secret was, we turned to and looked at the characters themselves as suspects and to break them down to see if they really are who they say they are.  In The Hound of the Baskervilles, there is also the element of human deception however the book also introduces the idea of the evil hound and the supernatural.  When Watson asks Holmes about the his belief in the possible supernatural explanation of Sir Charles’s death he says “The devil’s agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not? … Of course, if Dr Mortimer’s surmise should be correct, and we are dealing with forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature, there is an end of our investigation” (29). The introduction of the demonic hound gives a whole new level to the mystery and calls into question the veracity of everything that happens in the story and whether or not we can believe it to be real.

The utilization of the concept of the supernatural is what separates Lady Audley’s Secret and The Hound of the Baskervilles into two different genres.  The idea of the supernatural vs real is a main trope in Gothic literature  whereas family and domestic issues are a part of sensation literature.

8 Comments

  1. theladydothprotest

    October 2, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    I like your first paragraph, or rather, your thesis. I agree with your summation that the two books differ vastly in that Lady Audley’s Secret does not involve the supernatural, and The Hound of the Baskervilles does. I also agree that the introduction of the hound in the book changes things, and adds a new level of mystery that Lady Audley’s Secret does not have.

  2. The involvement of the supernatural in The Hound of the Baskervilles creates a very simple, yet interesting twist from Lady Audley’s Secret. Both texts have the mystery and make the reader question the characters. It is making people think before trusting someone. How someone acts and appears on the outside may not match what is happening on the inside. Or, how someone acts in one situation and with certain people may be completely opposite of how they act in other situations with other people. Lady Audley’s Secret tells the reader that not everyone or everything we think to be true is, and I think The Hound of the Baskervilles also has that aspect, yet goes a step further. It brings in the supernatural and makes the reader think about how the natural world as we know it is questionable too. There is not only more than meets the eye when it comes to people, but also with things around us. It is interesting to me how this one change, going from focus on the natural to questioning the supernatural, takes the novel to a new genre. It is almost like The Hound of the Baskervilles is a step up from Lady Audley’s Secret therefore it falls into a different genre.

  3. During your comparisons of the two novels, I like how you are taking into account the differences between the first book LAS and HOB. I agree that LAS certainly is a humanistic novel that has aspects taken from it that could possibly apply to real world scenarios. The HOB as you’ve said is a game changer for the mystery novel as it introduces the mystical/supernatural aspect to the reader. The differences between the two and the tropes used certainly allow us to compare two different works of mystery to see if one is more appealing than the other.

  4. I enjoyed your comparison of Lady Audley’s Secret to The Hound of the Baskervilles. I agree that they share a lot in common, and I also agree that the main difference between them is the concept of the supernatural. However, I think that to figure out the mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles, it will still be very important to “look at the characters themselves as suspects and to break them down”, as you said. In the first section of the book that we read, the Stapletons were both suspicious characters, and worth a deeper look. We can even try to break down the hound itself; first of all, is it supernatural or is it just a huge hound? If the latter is true, then is someone somehow responsible for the hound’s attacks? Is there no hound at all, but instead something that would lead witnesses to believe so? This novel presents us with a lot of different questions and possibilities.

  5. I agree there is definitely a major difference between the books, in that one offers the idea of the supernatural while the other does not. However, towards the end of The Hound of the Baskervilles, it is proven that the hesitant belief of the supernatural was false and Mr. Stapleton was just scheming and putting that idea into people’s heads. What if the case never got solved? What would be your new interpretation considering the ending? I think after finishing the book, Lady Audley’s Secret and The Hound of the Baskervilles seem even more similar because in the end there was no supernatural force after all. In both books there is definitely suspicions/questions raised about some mysterious creatures, for example the dog Lucy was scared of and the hound. But, in reality, according to the end of the books those suspicions were wrong.

  6. I love this idea you’ve mentioned of how the conflict in Lady Audley’s Secret can be attributed to human secrecy and evil, while in The Hound of the Baskervilles, conflict arises due to the supernatural. It’s also interesting to think how, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the supernatural evils can be attributed to human faults; Hugo seems to have unleashed a murderous creature that is destined to haunt his family for generations to come, so clearly the supernatural apparitions in the novel are connected to human behavior. Perhaps The Hound of the Baskervilles offers a mix between the two tropes.

  7. I find it interesting how you pointed out that who the respectable suspects are in each of the novels characterizes what genre each novel is classified as. In Lady Audley’s Secret, we find that the suspects are Lady Audley and others related to George Talboys. Where in The Hound of the Baskervilles, although family is a theme spoken of quite frequently, it is this supernatural being that is suspected to be at fault. I think this could be a main reason as to why Lady Audley’s Secret is classified as more of a sensational novel due to the themes of relationships and family and why The Hound of the Baskervilles is classified as more of a Gothic novel due to the recurring theme of the supernatural.

  8. Readersknowbest

    October 3, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I agree that the difference between the novels is that the Hound of the Baskervilles is very clearly Gothic literature compared to Lady Audley’s Secret which only has a few elements of the Gothic but is primarily a sensation novel. I think that there are also other elements where we get to witness the tropes of Gothic literature in the novel. This can be seen through the lens of time and place, the author chooses to illuminate the Gothic through descriptions of the moorlands, Baskerville Manor (similar to Audley Court), moonlight, the mysterious for and the home of Mr. Stapleton.

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