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With particular reference to the construction of Mr Hyde, discuss how portrayal of the character places the novella into the Gothic Horror genre.

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Introduction

With particular reference to the construction of Mr Hyde, discuss how portrayal of the character places the novella into the Gothic Horror genre. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886, a time where the "Gothic Horror" story was at its fullest expression, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde continues to remain one of the most well written, exciting and terrifying Gothic Horror stories to date. The Gothic Horror story has adapted over time, first being associated with dark, mysterious forces of the personality which were though of as uncivilised and therefore medieval and Gothic. However, it was then being used to describe the mysterious, the fantastic and occasionally, the horrific, appealing to the emotional side of human experience and throwing off the shackles of reason. Gothic Novels all shared similar settings, which were not just castles but anywhere that created a dark and mysterious atmosphere, and by the nineteenth century, Gothic Horror began to develop into ordinary human beings in familiar environments, to make the reader even more inclined to believe the unbelievable; that such dreadful events could actually happen; and this is exactly what Stevenson has done. Stevenson wrote Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at a time where science was still relatively new; Darwin's theory of evolution had turned what was a very religious world upside-down, and that, combined with the discovery of electricity and other scientific breakthroughs, made people start to believe that anything was possible. It is this that makes the events in Stevenson's novel, which consists of ordinary characters in familiar settings, that much more believable, and therefore even more terrifying. ...read more.

Middle

Further on in the novel Stevenson describes Hyde as moving "like a money", by which, with reference to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, Stevenson is suggesting that by turning into the "ape-like" Hyde, Jekyll is evolving backwards. As the pair question each other, Hyde "snarled into a savage laugh", which gives Hyde an element of terror about him. When Hyde is described for the second time - this time from Utterson's own point of view - he has the same "dwarfish" stance and gives the same "impression of deformity without any nameable malformation" of which Enfield emphasised when he tried to describe the character, which again adds to the air of mystery surrounding the character himself. Hyde speaks with a "husky whispering" and a "broken voice", which although readers do not yet know, Stevenson is referring to the fact that Hyde is not a whole person. Utterson continues to be confused and frightened by Hyde even after he has disappeared, as he tries to describe the "unknown disgust, loathing and fear" that he senses from the character, which convinces the readers that Hyde is most certainly someone or something to be feared, and this is confirmed when Utterson links Hyde with the devil by saying he says that Hyde's face was marked with "Satan's signature". Stevenson continues to leave readers in suspense until Hyde's true identity is revealed to them in the ninth chapter, although he does drop clues along the way to allow readers to try and figure the mystery for themselves. The plot is eventually exposed by Dr Laynon, who witnessed Hyde's transformation back into Jekyll for himself, and recalls his account in detail in the ninth chapter; "Dr Lanyon's Narrative". ...read more.

Conclusion

Stevenson describes Lanyon to have "destroyed himself", and his life has been "shaken to it's roots", and this makes readers realise the full extent of what they have just "witnessed". Overall, I think that Stevenson has portrayed Hyde to fit in with the typical Gothic mould of the tyrannical male, not only through his use of Gothic language, but through the horrific events themselves; the chilling, secretive, mysterious atmosphere; and the after-thought to contemporary readers that something like this is entirely possible to happen. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a lot more terrifying to contemporary readers for several reasons. One reason is that at that time of scientific breakthroughs and Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, the world had been turned on it's head, and people thought that anything was possible with science; they certainly believed in transcendental medicine, which would take human beings from beyond the realms of normal experience. Also, Stevenson has left clues throughout the novel to allow readers to guess the plot by themselves, which would lead to all sorts of wonders in their imagination; however the story is so well known now that modern readers know the plot, the twist and all events in-between the novel, that it would neither frighten nor surprise them. Also, Stevenson's use of Gothic description is particularly terrifying as it allows readers to conjure all sorts of horrific images, however the play has been re-enacted in theatre and in film now so many times that there is not much left to imagine for modern readers anyway. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sam Peacock Page 1 of 7 ...read more.

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