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To what extent can "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" be defined as Gothic Literature?

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Ben Davey 5c English Coursework 27/09/04 To what extent can "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" be defined as Gothic Literature? Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is one of the most famous works of horror fiction ever written. Like the tales of "Frankenstein" and "Dracula," a version of its central idea resides in the collective human consciousness. Stevenson wrote his most famous work in October 1885 at the age of 35. At the time he was dependent on his father, but this work enabled him to become financially independent for the first time. Originally intended as a 'shilling shocker' for publication at Christmas 1885, it was delayed until January of the following year due to a rather full market. ...read more.


Stevenson, however, dispenses entirely with such 'distancing devices' and sets his novel in London, in the present day, and disguises terror and evil inside a respectable person. This is clearly very different from normal Gothic setting and plot, although, in terms of plot he does have plenty of monstrosity and evil readily available in the formidable form of Edward Hyde. In some ways the construction is very reminiscent of a detective story. The vast majority of the novel concerns Mr Utterson trying to decipher various suspicious and secretive happenings, most of them utterly ruinous if they surfaced in such a society, (i.e.) one so obsessed with reputation and credit and governed by public opinion. From the start Utterson doesn't really want to know the truth, but actually is more interested in saving his friend from scandal and potentially losing his 'credit.' ...read more.


is deliberately ambiguous and never explains suspicious circumstances such as; "I was coming home from some place at the end of the world, about 3 o'clock of a black winter morning," Stevenson never clarifies what Enfield was doing, or, in fact, what Sir Danvers Carew was doing in the district where he was murdered either, also in the early hours of the morning Some say that this novel works well as a piece of Gothic fiction partly as it creates more questions than it actually answers, which is true in some ways. Another tradition of Gothic and horror fiction is that of narrative complexity and the use of letters, statements and other such items to broaden the perspective, and to make the incidents concerned sound more plausible. Stevenson makes good use of such aids, even though anything is possible in such a tale of dual appearances and double lives. ...read more.

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