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English GCSE Pre-1914 Prose Study

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English GCSE Pre-1914 Prose Study. How does Stevenson Explore the Divided Nature of Human Personality and Victorian Society in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a Horror story written by Robert Louis Stevenson. The novella explores the divided nature of human personality and Victorian society by telling the story of a respectable gentleman named Dr Jekyll, who devolves into a beast by the name of Mr Hyde. The dominant theme of the novella is the theme of the double. Stevenson explores this in many different ways throughout the novella. Some of the characters in the book turn out to be very different from what they at first appear to be. For instance, Gabriel Utterson has a very "rough countenance" and looks quite ugly but he is a very nice, respectable gentleman of the novella and he is also a lawyer that helps "down-going men". Also, Dr Jekyll, one of the main characters of the book, is very different from what he appeared to be. ...read more.


Utterson is also reserved and indirect. However Mr Hyde speaks with short simple and direct words like "What do you want", this shows that he is very straight-forward, direct and emotional because he is not afraid to show his emotions or tell people what he thinks. Mr Hyde does speak quite aggressively also, which reveals that he is open minded and doesn't think properly before speaking. He is honest and straight to the point because he doesn't mind to tell people his thoughts. In a strange way, then, the villain of the story is more honest than its hypocritical hero. Poole is the lower-classed disreputable character in the novella as he is Dr Jekyll's butler. His use of language shows that he is willing to express his emotions. For example, he also uses short direct way of speech. Through the use of different types of speech, Stevenson seems to suggest that the more respectable and self-restrained the person the more insincere and emotionally dishonest they are. In his exploration of the divided personality, Stevenson draws our attention to the divided nature of London in the 1880's. ...read more.


Stevenson makes this point by including numerous symbols of privacy and secrecy throughout the novella. For instance, Dr Jekyll's laboratory is at the back of his houses "which showed no window". This suggests that Dr Jekyll does not want people to know what he does in his own time because the simple reason that Victorian society was too highly moralistic. This kind of secrecy carries on through the novella with other characters as well. For example, Mr Utterson receives a package from Dr Lanyon which he examined in his office. Before opening the package he locks the door of his own office which shows that Utterson is very secretive about his business and does not want to be associated with down going men. The package was then put in a safe so that no one could have seen it. Taken as a whole, these symbols of secrecy reinforce the idea that Victorian gentlemen were compelled to keep their private lives hidden away. I think that the themes of the novel are not relevant now because the society is not so strict and people don't have to cover up their different types of living or their utmost desires. ...read more.

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