Наслеђе 55 (2023), стр. 135-146

АУТОР(И): Dušan B. Ivanović


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DOI: 10.46793/NasKg2355.135I


The exploitation of Gothic elements in detective fiction was long regarded as a skillful way to create an atmosphere of suspense and mys- tery. However, writers have often relied on the power of the Gothic not only to intrigue and unsettle the reader, but also, more importantly,     to direct attention to complex taboo topics of their time. This essen- tial function of the Gothic can be identified in Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, which alludes to many delicate issues of the fin-de-siècle British society, including violence, mental illness, and criminality. These phenomena were often exam- ined by late Victorians in the light of degeneration theory, which held that abnormal forms of behavior were signs of bad heredity and bio- logical regression. Thus, this paper investigates whether degeneration theory played a role in Doyle’s characterization of the novel’s criminal antagonist Jack Stapleton by focusing on how his appearance, behavior, and actions are represented in the text. It is argued that Doyle delib- erately uses the Gothic motif of duality to disperse the illusion of a clear boundary between the civilized “self” and the barbaric “other,” thereby implicitly stressing the complexity of human nature. Accord- ingly, the analysis, which rests on Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, reveals that Stapleton’s moral decay should not be read as an indicator of his hereditary predisposition toward crime but rather as a result of mental tensions that he fails to control


degeneration, human duality, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes, Jack Stapleton, the Gothic, Victorian society, fin de siècle


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