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A Discussion of the Final Chapter of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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Introduction

A DISCUSSION OF THE FINAL CHAPTER OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON In the final stages of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, there are many ways in which the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, both explores human nature, and also creates a sense of sympathy on the part of the reader for Dr Henry Jekyll, which could be said to extend to Mr Edward Hyde as well. In reference to the author's exploration of the nature of humanity, the settings of the story itself are very important. Previous to the writing of this story, there had been a firm tradition of horror stories being set exclusively in rural areas, perhaps due to the fact that only a minority of people lived in these areas, and so to those elsewhere it would have seemed far more remote and exotic. Stevenson's thriller was ground-breaking in that it focussed its plot in an urban setting, by name London, but also with extraordinary resemblance to Stevenson's home city of Edinburgh. This setting reflects the idea of urban expansion into the countryside, but more importantly the more modern appearance of this particular horror story. Because a large majority of the readers of this book would have been living in the city, it brings the story closer to them, and allows them to become more involved in the events of the plot. ...read more.

Middle

This is shown in the character of Henry Jekyll, and the underlying evil that is personified by Edward Hyde. In Jekyll's earlier life, he was forced to conceal his pleasures from his family, becoming rebellious against his father, just as Jekyll himself feels urged to do in the story, and from which the beginnings of his familiarity with a double-life or, as he says "a profound duplicity of life", can be traced. The context of the story is also important in terms of the sympathy created by the author for Hyde. The period in which the book is set was one of enormous scientific progress and discovery, and in my opinion, this adds a further element to the reasons for a feeling of sympathy for Henry Jekyll. Jekyll himself cites a burning ambition inside himself as being a key reason for his unquenchable thirst to discover the true nature of humanity, and thus his desire to become Hyde. The intensity of the scientific world of the period, and the temptation which face Jekyll after his first experience of the transformation both appear to contribute towards his inability to stop himself becoming Hyde. Jekyll himself seems to realise the responsibility of these factors towards the end of the book, in his account of events. ...read more.

Conclusion

his actions, would seem to suggest that he cannot be seen as utterly ruthless, and thus in a sense he is weak. This inability to ignore his conscience, means, in my opinion, that he is not in fact entirely evil, and that the relationship between good and evil, and between Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde, is not as defined as one might think, that there are "shades of grey" to be considered. I believe that this creates sympathy for Hyde, making him appear wretched and pitiful. Indeed, Dr Jekyll himself creates and expresses a certain degree of pity for Hyde, admitting that he cannot wholly condemn his actions, because he himself envies the way in which Hyde embraces his freedom. He says, "But his love of life is wonderful...I find it in my heart to pity him" The fact that even Jekyll feels pity for his wretched inner self merely serves to encourage similar feelings in the reader. In conclusion, I believe that Dr Henry Jekyll bravely sacrifices his own life in order to prevent the evil Edward Hyde from being free. In this sense, I feel that he shows another side of human nature which is almost entirely exclusive to Jekyll's superego, the conscience. Jekyll shows an ability to consider the situation of others above himself, and importantly, an ability to recognise between good and evil. ...read more.

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