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Why would a Victorian reader find "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" shocking yet fascinating?

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Why would a Victorian reader find "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" shocking yet fascinating? Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Jekyll and Hyde in 1886 in the middle of the Victorian era. This book is both shocking yet fascinating to a Victorian reader, I will explore this further. "Polar twins ... continually struggling," this quotation is talking about the struggle between Jekyll and Hyde; they are struggling to gain dominance over each other in Jekyll's body. They are polar twins, Jekyll is good and Hyde is Evil, this quotation shows that Jekyll and Hyde are linked, and this idea that they are linked in body and soul would be shocking to a reader yet it would also be fascinating because it shows the dual nature of man, the ability to do good and evil. There are many themes in Jekyll and Hyde that a Victorian reader would find shocking and fascinating at the same time, like Science vs. religion, civilisation vs. savagery, the dual identity of man, the way Stevenson portrays London, the gothic elements of the story, and the description of the characters and their relationships. ...read more.


the read the book the see that this area reflects him, and because he is a doctor of science who dissects bodies he is probably frowned on in public and by higher classes. This makes the reader question the respectability of Jekyll. The reader would find this shocking and fascinating that the areas that they live in reflect their character. The idea of the dual identity of man would be shocking to a reader because a Victorian person wouldn't have heard of this before; they would also find it very interesting even if they don't believe in it. "Man is not truly one but truly two," it shows that man is split into two parts, one part that is wholly good and odes good things and another part that is wholly evil. The idea that "Hyde alone in the ranks of mankind was pure evil," comes up from the dual nature. The reader would find this fascinating that someone could be pure evil yet they would also be shocked by it, that this person would do evil things like kill people. ...read more.


out that he is pure evil a part of a conscience and not a whole person, a reader would find this shocking and would disgust them as well Jekyll and Hyde is talked about by critics as a "magnificent piece of sensationalism," which means that Jekyll and Hyde was a magnificent story and would be very fascinating to readers in the Victorian era. All of the different themes of the story add to this idea that Jekyll and Hyde is shocking and fascinating to readers. They would be fascinated and shocked by some of the ideas of science and the opposing ideas of religion. They would be interested by the theme of civilisation vs. savagery and shocked by some of the points. They would be shocked by Jekyll's ideas of the dual nature of man yet because they haven't heard of it before they would be fascinated by it. The way Stevenson portrays London would shock them and all of the gothic elements which enhance the story would help the readers appreciate Jekyll and Hyde more. "The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is a book that is both shocking yet fascinating to Victorian readers. Drew Taylor 1113JL 1 ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a proficient answer that tackles a fairly complex question confidently and with an intelligent recognition of the context of the time (though in parts perhaps, this could be stressed more). Recognition of context is absolutely imperative here - ...

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Response to the question

This is a proficient answer that tackles a fairly complex question confidently and with an intelligent recognition of the context of the time (though in parts perhaps, this could be stressed more). Recognition of context is absolutely imperative here - how did people think at the time the novel was written? Without this recognition, candidates cannot score highly on questions like these. This candidate shows some good knowledge of how people would've thought in the late 19th Century, referring to their staunchly religious views about God and the rising opposition from recent scientific revolutions and linking it well with the question, as is just one example.

The structure of the answer is good, with the candidate appropriately breaking up sections and areas of analysis with their paragraphs. However, the concluding paragraph is very poor, and indicates that perhaps the candidate ran foul of a time limit that didn't give them enough time to form a sufficient conclusion. The conclusion should, naturally, make no big analytical points but to simply dissolve what should be around four-six lines to little under two lines does not count for a good conclusion. As conclusions are required to 'bookend' essays, the candidate loses marks for structure here. I recommend managing time better in order to ensure that even a small-ish introduction that sounds more conclusive than a statement that just as well suits the introductory paragraph.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis shown by the candidate in this essay is good, and indicates abilities to achieve a fair B grade for A Level. There is a good understanding of how the novel use characters, setting, theme ans certain events to shock it's intended audience (19th Victorian readers) as well as propose fascinating ideas about the Science vs. Religion debate or the belief of the Duality of Man; that more than one personality can live within one person. The candidate draws the question into the answer regularly, which is a brilliant way of explicitly showing how you are relating your analysis to the question - do not do this if what your saying does not related though, as this can look very bad and give the impression you don't really know what your talking about. But if it does relate, then linking the question e.g. "this is how X is fascinating", "Victorian readers would be shocked by X because" is a great way of being obvious with your analysis - thrusting your answers right under the examiners nose so they can't miss it.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is food here. the candidate displays a proficient and accurate use of the English language, ensuring clarity and precision with their use of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Perhaps some more linguistics-based terminology could be used in order to answer the question and indicate a more knowledgeable analysis, but the lack of this is by no means detrimental to the essay's analysis.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 15/08/2012

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