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An examination of the representation of evil in Stevenson's

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Introduction

An examination of the representation of evil in Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is a gothic horror novella written by Robert Louis Stevenson in the Victorian era. The novella follows a well-respected doctor - Henry Jekyll - and his struggle between good and evil when he takes a potion and becomes Mr Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson - the author of the novella "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"- was born in Edinburgh in 1850 and died at the young age of forty-four. He wrote the book in 1886. As a child he was very close to his nurse and when he was ill she used to read him Bible stories as he was brought up in a strict Catholic tradition, which he later rebelled against. This led to his fascination for his city's low life and for bizarre characters, which proved rich material for later stories. Deacon Brodie lived in Edinburgh in the eighteenth century. His double life is thought to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson to write "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". Deacon Brodie lived an extravagant lifestyle, which even his high position in Edinburgh society could not support, so he turned to crime to finance his lifestyle. This concept of a doppelganger - a shadow of a different side of a human - was used in "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" to create the same effect. ...read more.

Middle

Stevenson uses many metaphors to make Hyde sound more beast than man. The contrast of animalistic against human imagery is used a lot in this novella. The animalistic imagery is used to describe Hyde, and the human imagery is used on gentlemen as a whole not as an individual. Hyde is described to have "ape like fury", "ape like tricks", and to be "like a monkey". Most of these animalistic features describe him as a primate of some sort. These ideas fit into the suggestion of Stevenson getting some inspiration from Charles Darwin and his idea of evolution from monkey to man. This suggests that Hyde's actions can be blamed on the fact that he is not a real human and does not understand the concept of right and wrong. Also Stevenson describes Hyde's appearance as having some kind of abnormality and the characters that have witnessed Hyde all agree on the unsettling disfigurement however each witness has trouble explaining his facial characteristics. This creates a mystery about Hyde's character. For example when Mr Utterson first sees Hyde's face he described Hyde as giving "an impression of deformity without any namable malformation". This shows that there was something about Mr Hyde that gave a sense that he was deformed but there was not anything physically deformed about him. The human imagery used, such as: "handsome", "tall" and "strong build", all represent a good man and a well respected man, as Henry Jekyll was. ...read more.

Conclusion

The environment will affect the way that things turn out and I believe Hyde is a traditional enemy or view of evil from those days. I think the book is a reflection of Stevenson's life as it was his upbringing, which caused him to rebel. I think the novella explores traditional evil from the Victorian era, as the enemy is being described as a beast. I feel Stevenson portrays evil to be fun and therefore tempting, and to be good as being weak. To be good you have to care for others as well as yourself and consider people's feelings, which will double the burden. Therefore, to be good also means to be vulnerable. He portrays evil to be strong, as you only think of yourself and what you want, and this is why Hyde attempts to take over Jekyll. Although Hyde seems to take over Jekyll there is still a part of Jekyll there, which makes Hyde take the potion to become Jekyll again, so that he can then end the evil of the beast he created which also means ending his life too. In conclusion I feel Stevenson has successfully portrayed evil through his characters, setting and language. I enjoyed the different ways it suggests evil and I believe Robert Louis Stevenson has accomplished his aim to write a gothic horror book and "The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is truly a book of its time as creating an evil side that, if made subject to, would alter normal civilized behaviour and conduct horrific violence was unheard of at the time the book was published. ...read more.

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