Discuss The Ways That Evil Is Portrayed In Stevenson's "The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde".
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Discuss The Ways That Evil Is Portrayed In Stevenson's "The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde" The "Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" was written in 1885 during the Victorian Era. The book was based in the streets of London, which, at this period in time were a very dangerous place to be in. The city had an eerie dark thick fog that gently whispered through the streets and this was known as the London smog. The cause of the smog was all the factories in London because it had become a very industrial place. The fog helps to provide a mysterious & horrific atmosphere. This type of atmosphere can give a sense of terror to the reader to give an even greater horror in the book. London was the biggest and wealthiest city in the world at this time but although it was the biggest city, at night the streets were empty, lonely and cold. Stevenson used the night-time setting a lot in his novel as it was dangerous to be out at this time. The novel 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was first published in London in 1886. There was very little crime at this time but life was very different in the lower class areas. Mr. Hyde lived in one of the poorer areas in London called Soho. Although the typical London streets were dead at night Soho came alive. The atmosphere of this part of London is an ideal place for Mr Hyde to live in.
Jekyll was willing to go through this though because when he became Hyde he could release his anger. In the book Hyde rents out a place in Soho, 'I took and furnished that house in Soho.' This is a place that he can go and retreat to. Soho is suitable for his personality because it is dark, run-down, cheap and nasty. One evening on October 18, a maid-servant living alone in a house had gone upstairs to bed about eleven. She sat down upon her box and 'fell into a dream of musing'. As she sat she became aware of an aged gentleman walking in the moonlight and a small gentleman who she paid less attention to. As the men came closer she recognised the small man to be Mr. Hyde. Suddenly Mr. Hyde 'broke out in a great flame of anger, and stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on like a madman.' Mr. Hyde started to 'club the man to earth' and stamp on him with 'ape-like fury.' This is one of the most violent and barbaric scenes in the book, with great contrast from the scene starting very quite and peaceful then savage and fierce. Stevenson makes the contrast more powerful when he uses the language well. He does this by starting the scene with very romantic and calm words like, 'romantically given', 'fell into a dream of musing', 'Never had she felt more at peace' and 'very pretty manor of politeness.'
We can understand the feelings of Jekyll and therefor have our own opinions about him. To also make you feel an even greater knowledge of the character's feelings Stevenson uses a third person narrative so we can look at specific characters in detail and find out their emotions. Stevenson also uses letters to convey information which is a very good way to show evidence of the characters conscious. It's also good to use a letter because it's evidence and it makes the reader believe the story to be more realistic. Evil is portrayed in Stevenson's 'The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' by using language, symbols, character actions. The extreme use of horrific, bloodthirsty and murderous language used in Jekyll and Hyde shows the reader the savageness of the characters. Expressing this language brings out the evil in the character therefor adds evil to the novel. The main symbol used in Jekyll and Hyde to portray evil is the fog. He also uses buildings and the street life to create a greater sense of evil. The fog creates an atmospheric tension because it's dark and more mysterious and the buildings and streets are scummy and dirty to also add a tension to the rise of evil. To portray evil in the novel, some characters are made to act untrustworthy and have a sense of being very unholy and diabolical. In this novel Hyde makes us see him as an evil character by the obscene language he uses and his very physically brutal and harmful actions that he does towards other human beings. Jonny Green
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