Sir Henry’s Identity

“There he sat, with his tweed suit and his American accent, in the corner of a prosaic railway-carriage, and yet as I looked at his dark and expressive face I felt more than ever how true a descendant he was of that long line of high-blooded, fiery, and masterful men.” (55)

The character of Sir Henry is a puzzling one. We, as readers, do not receive a lot of information about him except for the fact that he has lived in Canada, and has come back to England because he is the closest heir to Sir Charles. I chose this quote because it depicts an almost contradictory image of Sir Henry’s identity: An American-looking Baskerville. In Watson’s eyes, the contrast is quite clear. I find it interesting how his clothes portray him as a cheery American, but his facial features tell another story. Watson describes his face as “dark” and “expressive”, as if these features indicate an obvious tie to the Baskerville lineage.

Not only do we learn about Sir Henry, but we also get a clearer sense of how the Baskerville men are perceived. The first descriptor is “high-blooded”, which means that they are of noble lineage, and therefore powerful and rich. These men are also “fiery” and “masterful”, which could mean that they might be seen as having a quick temper, and perhaps unpredictable.

What could this mean for Sir Henry? Why does Watson now realize that he is this way? Could this be a possible foreshadowing of how the character might  transform throughout the story?

One thought on “Sir Henry’s Identity”

  1. I noticed that passage as well, thinking that the fashion differences spoke to the stratified class structure of upper class England. North American fashion at the time, from an English perspective, was regarded as less than serious, even a bit frivolous. English aristocracy had a very strict code about what sorts of attire were appropriate at specific times of the day and for what types of occasion. Public behaviors were also strictly monitored. I agree that the seeming contradiction between Sir Henry’s choice in attire and his personal countenance tells us that even though he may have lived in Canada and doesn’t get his clothes tailored in Bond Street, he is a Baskerville all the same.

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