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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - "In the chapter 'The Last Night', How does Stevenson present the Gothic genre"

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Introduction

The Gothic genre was an extremely popular literary tradition in Victorian times. It combines elements of both horror and romance which proved highly popular to the Victorian audiences. The Gothic genre often involved tales of mystery and terror and many chilling supernatural phenomena. Novels written in the Gothic genre would often be set in dark landscapes, decaying mansions with secret passages - original Gothic novels were set in gloomy castles. I will be analysing the presentation of the Gothic genre in 'The Last Night' of 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' and identifying and discussing the many aspects of the Gothic genre in this chapter such as social, historical and cultural. Stevenson wrote 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' in 1885 which was under Queen Victoria's reign. The Victorian era brought a lot of technological progress and the advancement of European power. However, Stevenson focuses on a milieu he knew well: the upper middle class, highly social world of powerful men in which issues such as appearance are extremely important. Stevenson examines that superficial existence and targets the hypocrisy of social strata and the danger of allowing the innate evilness of human nature to run free in his narrative of a respectable doctor who transforms himself into a savage murderer. There is a lack of female characters throughout most of the novel which reflects the low status given to women in Victorian society and would have been normal to a Victorian audience when Stevenson wrote the novel. ...read more.

Middle

This way, Stevenson presents the moon as submissive and powerless to the mate wind. A lot of mystery is presented to the reader throughout the chapter in numerous ways such as when the wind "flecked blood into the face". Stevenson makes the reader ponder what "blood" it was which may build suspense to the reader because they do not know whose blood the narrator is talking about. Stevenson uses setting to reflect Utterson's feelings of what is about to happen. Utterson had not seen the streets of London so deserted and becomes "conscious" as no one is around and wishes to "touch his fellow-creatures". This gives Utterson a premonition of disaster because "borne in upon his mind" was the "anticipation of calamity" which Stevenson uses to build tension through a climax. Utterson represents a typical Victorian gentleman. He constantly seeks to preserve order and decorum and can be seen to follow the strict Victorian code of conduct and manners and could provide an undercurrent of sexual repression. Stevenson shows that Utterson is a gentleman who is of a high class. The audience can see this when Poole visits Uttersons house and he offers Poole to "take a seat" and gave him a "glass of wine". This politeness is part of the Victorian etiquette and places Utterson in a higher class. His place in society also impacts on class. Utterson is a lawyer, which was a well respected occupation during the Victorian era and he referred to as "sir" by Poole which suggests Poole is of a lower class and has a lower status in society because he works for Dr Jekyll as his servant. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was significant because Stevenson explores the theories of Darwin through Dr Jekyll. Furthermore, it changed the attitudes about what is right and wrong in Victorian society. Through the chapter Utterson is keen to protect Dr Jekyll's reputation. Even when Utterson is summoned by Poole to Jekyll's house and all the servants are gathered frightened in the hallway, Utterson continues to look for an explanation that preserves reason. He desperately searches for excuses not to take any dramatic steps to interfere with the doctor's life. In Utterson's devotion to both decorum and reason, Stevenson depicts Victorian society's general attempt to maintain the authority of civilisation over and against humanity's darker side. This enforces the hypocrisy within Victorian society. Stevenson suggests too that just as Utterson prefers the suppression or avoidance of revelations to humiliation or disorder the truth might unleash, Victorian society prefers to repress and deny the existence of an uncivilised or savage element of humanity, no matter how fundamental that element may be. The Gothic genre is demonstrated throughout most of the chapter. Stevenson uses imagery frequently to convey to the audience the general Gothic atmosphere. Through his writing style he builds tension and evokes a sense of Gothic. The chapter ultimately conforms to the Gothic genre conventions throughout; only at one point the audience sees a change in setting and atmosphere when Poole and Utterson enter the cabinet. Stevenson explorers issues of the time and goes into some controversial exploration and writes in a very elaborate style in comparison to modern day texts. ?? ?? ?? ?? Angelo Nicholas 11H Dr Jekyll and My Hyde ...read more.

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