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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde summary

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Notes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stephenson (1886) Genre * Classic horror * Written in the third person, with first-person chapters by Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon in the form of letters * Narration follows Utterson's point of view, as he investigates the mystery of Jekyll and Hyde's relationship * Written in quite a brisk, businesslike way - like a news report or a police report - deriving from Mr. Utterson's personality and approach. The 'police report' image also comes across in the title "The strange case of ...", and the chapter headings "Incident of the letter" and "Incident at the Window", an attitude of scientific detachment. The prim way in which the story is presented, despite the subject matter which 'lurks underneath', could be a methaphor for Victorian society in general in which private individuals show a 'respectable veneer' in public. * In contrast to other gothic horrors of the time (Shelley's Frankenstein, Brahm Stoker's Dracula) the enemy comes from within rather than outwith the main character. Themes * The duality of human nature - that everyone has a good and bad side. ...read more.


it was frequently his fortune to be te last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence of down-going men". * A man of reason, not swayed by superstition or religious concerns, not drawn into gossip * Is it duty, or curiosity that prompts him to get involved in this mystery? * For most of the novel, he goes about gathering evidence, informally. The reader can see a connection between Jekyll and Hyde that Utterson seems not to see - he carries on thinking that his friend Jekyll is in the grips of a criminal. He is so rational and sensible (and Victorian!) that he is unable to acknowledge the possible existence of the 'impossible' - that Jekyll and Hyde are one and the same person. Dr. Jekyll * An older gentleman * A respected figure in society * He aspires to be a great and good man * Rational, controlled, civilized * He was 'wild' when younger, and is nostalgic for his 'miss-spent youth' * His beliefs about human nature we find out in his final letter - that humans are half virtuous, half criminal/half moral, half immoral; he experiments with chemicals to separate the two so that he can allow his darker side to indulge his passions without ruining his own good reputation/standing in the community. ...read more.


* He becomes more cruel and violent as the story goes on, finally murdering a famous man Imagery, word choices, etc. * Good -v- evil - the contrasting descriptions of Dr. Jekyll's front and back doors * Mr. Hyde - the aspect of himself that Dr. Jekyll would prefer to 'hide' * Mr. Hyde is linked to night-time and darkness (good -v- evil) * Mr. Hyde's behaviour is described in animalistic terms Mystery and suspense * While Utterson, the narrator, has seen Mr. Hyde, we are never given his physical description. * Raises questions: * What is the link between Hyde and Jekyll? * What hold does Hyde have over the Dr? * What are the "strange scientific ideas" that Dr. Lanyon disapproves of? * The intangible nature of Hyde's 'deformity'/appearance * Clues are dropped into the text as to Mr. Hyde really is: * Hyde gives the child's family a cheque signed by Dr. Jekyll * He has a key to the back door of Dr. Jekyll's house * He has the 'freedom' of Dr. Jekyll's house and can give orders to the servants * He is the beneficiary of Dr. Jekyll's will should he die or disappear * We finally find out the truth at the end of the book, reading Dr. Lanyon's letter and Dr. Jekyll's confession ...read more.

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