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Chapter 4 in 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is one of the novels most significant points

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Introduction

Chapter 4 in 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is one of the novels most significant points as it makes Hyde's sheer ferociousness and brutality evident to the reader for the first time. Up to this point, the reader is only aware of the potential of Edward Hyde through the vague descriptions of him and the very brief trampling of the young girl. The reader witnesses the murder of Sir Danvers Carew by Hyde, from a maidservant's viewpoint. Due to this, it is fair to say that the reader gains a more restricted view of events through the maidservant's eyes and will acquire a limited picture of events, which will go a long way towards letting the reader build up an image of the scene for themselves. This chapter goes a long way in getting an insight into Hyde's actions and his general mindset which reaffirms David Stevens views in 'The Gothic Tradition' in which he describes the novel as a combination of 'horror with astute psychological insight'. One of the first striking points to notice about the chapter is its title which instantly hints to the reader that it will have a sinister tone to it as it will be centred on a 'murder case'. The chapter title is also quite unexpected as the previous chapter is titled 'Dr Jekyll was quite at ease' placing the reader into a sense of security which is quickly destroyed by the following chapter. ...read more.

Middle

The crime, a murder of a distinguished, well-known social and political figure, is committed by the light of the full moon. Stevenson is using the full moon so that from a practical point of view, the maidservant can clearly see and describe the encounter between Hyde and Sir Danvers, but also, the full moon, in terms of superstition, is a widespread clich´┐Ż particularly in the gothic genre for the time when evil beings often in the shape of deformed men or werewolves commit their most monstrous acts. The 'full moon' could even be interpreted as a catalyst for the maidservant becoming 'romantically given' or some sort of a spotlight as in a theatre which brings up the expectation of something about to happen 'on the stage', the fact that the moon is deliberately presented in such an indefinite manner with a number of possible contrasting meanings follows on the theme of duality that is running throughout the whole novel. Such important notions are vital in another frequently used technique by Stevenson, foreshadowing, which is seen by the 'romantically given' maidservant which is the calm before the storm and deceives the reader into a sense of comfort which consequently creates an altogether greater shock to the reader. Another description by the maid is of Mr. Hyde who 'had in his hand a heavy cane', this is significant since she is not just describing that he had any sort of cane but more specifically a heavy cane which foretells that it could be used in later periods. ...read more.

Conclusion

This theme of animal behavior and metaphors can also be witnessed in other archetypal gothic texts such as the bat and dog metaphors in Dracula to the more obvious Frankenstein. Overall, Chapter 4 can justifiably be considered as one of the most crucial due not only to the impact it has on the reader but also because of how Stevenson brings about such an impact with the use of classic Gothic features. Hyde's animal like tendencies result in the most convulsive passage of text throughout the novel to not only shock and excite the reader but to try and give a better understanding of Hyde's lack of psychological stability. The sheer powers of the action drastically rework the entire novel's tone. The chapter is also vital in emphasising the key elements which make this the classic Gothic text that it ahs become. Although readers of the Victorian period would almost definitely have had different reactions to the chapter, the fact that Hyde's psychological state and his animal-like behaviour is such a major theme in the chapter makes it have a universal relevance through the different time periods since human will always be fascinated with how the mind works. Stevens, D. (2000) The Gothic Tradition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press Word Count: 1794 'Write a commentary on the opening of chapter 4 in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde entitled 'The Carew Murder Case'. Explore in detail the ways in which Stevenson's choices of form, structure and language shape meaning. Show your knowledge and understanding of the Gothic genre' ...read more.

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