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How does Stevenson create fear for the reader in the opening chapters of the novel 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson create fear for the reader in the opening chapters of the novel 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'? Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a popular novel published in 1886.this book related to many of the Victorian readers. During the Victorian period people lived two lives one side is the almost stiff powerful dull society with more concern of their reputation. However when they were in the comfort of their own homes, emotions which are ceased to be seen and bottled up in public are relieved by drinking alcohol, smoking socializing with friends and intimacy with a partner. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was a successful horror novel of the time, one reason for this is Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Most Victorians rejected the theory as it questioned their faith and powerful race. His theory raised a few eye brows and put many people on edge scaring them at just the thought of evolving from apes and even re-evolving back. Stevenson uses this public fear to shock and scare his audience with horror novel. Gothic horror was every popular around this time and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde included many gothic horror features. Some of these features are ; mystery, Gothic architecture, death, decay and secrets. All these create fear tension and a good horror novel. A old dark dangerous London is a good setting for fear and action. ...read more.

Middle

They are often wrong but by picturing it, the human mind often over exaggerates what it could be maybe the reader's personal fear. Stevenson does not reveal the secret until the end of the story however he drops in hints and clues so it's kind of like a detective investigation. Hyde's physical appearance is not disclosed for the first few chapters instead his descriptions are based on how he made other characters feel. This allows the reader to picture Hyde how they think of him, like always the reader's imagination is far worse which makes the story interesting. 'In case of Dr Jekyll's 'disappearance or unexplained absence for any period exceeding three calendar months.' The said Edward Hyde should step into the said Henry Jekyll's shoes with out further delay,' there are two mysteries in this quotation, one being at this point Mr Utterson knows nothing about this Hyde character and has seen him a few time but only remembers him for brutally crushing a little girl. Both the reader and Mr Utterson are confused to why Jekyll's will includes this stranger. The second mystery in this quotation is the strange unexplained disappearance of Jekyll, why would such high member of society ceased to exist? And what had caused Dr Jekyll to do this? Hyde is suspected to be linked in with Jekyll's peculiar behavior, his barbaric looks and attitude have already gained him a bad name. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds, and clubbed him to the earth. And the next moment with and ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim underfoot, and hailing down a storm of blows,' this shows the true capabilities of Hyde's animalistic nature. 'Ape-like fury' relates back to evolution and how his behavior is no better than a ape, with a sudden burst of outrage Hyde beat a well respected old man to death with no emotion accept anger. Hyde is depicted as creature of great evil although we learn of only two of his crimes. It's the nature of both which highlights the violence against two innocent victims. The first violent act was against the small child and a the second a much beloved old man. These attacks were on both harmless beings which emphasize the extreme immortality of Jekyll's darker side. Stevenson has created a tremendous amount of fear using the theme of duality, secrets, Darwin's theory, and general gothic features. These would be less affective for today's audience. This is mainly because we have now accepted the theory of evolution and the possibility of having to sides to us. This will remain a well respected novel and if it was to be updated the idea of duality would have to be changed a little. The change between the two sides of a person would be random and the person would also not be able to manipulate the change, the character would also have memory loss each time he/she changes. ...read more.

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