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Examine and explain how Stevenson builds an atmosphere of fear and horror in " The strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde"

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Introduction

Examine and explain how Stevenson builds an atmosphere of fear and horror in " The strange case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde" In the story 'The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde', to create the horror in the atmosphere, Stevenson uses darkness as the main backdrop. All the chapters are set in darkness apart from one, which is the 'Incident at the window', which is set in the daylight. In the first chapter ' The story of the door' He uses the line 'Tramps slouched into the recess and struck matches on the panels' to symbolise poverty, sadness and the darkness not just because it's early in the morning but also because there is darkness in these people's lives. This can add to the horror because even for the tramps, the cold darkness can add fear. I think the way he describes Hyde trampling the child can add an element of fear to the reader 'and that human Juggernaut trod the child down and passed on regardless of her screams'. This is where the main fear aspect of Hyde starts; it is describing him as a monster who doesn't care about he has done, ignoring the little girl. Mr Enfield then says ' He gave me one look, so ugly that it brought out the sweat on me like running.' This is telling the reader that Mr Hyde must have a very fearful look that seemed to make people think they were in his power. ...read more.

Middle

I think the figure in these two pictures is meant to represent Hyde. In the first instance it is him treading on the small child, and the second picture is him going into Dr Jekyll's room and blackmailing him. This nightmare leaves Utterson picturing a child being crushed at every street corner. But Utterson still cannot picture his face. He decides to haunt the door where Mr Hyde went after crushing the child. He did this so that he would maybe see his face, and help to clear up the mystery. When he does finally see him, he describes Hyde as ' small, very plainly dressed; and at the look of him even at a distance, went somehow strongly against the watchers inclination.' In this he is saying that Hyde wasn't what he imagined him to be like at all. He then looks at his face and notices some form of disability but can't say what it was. He had a displeasing smile, and spoke with a sort of husky, whispering and somewhat broken voice. All of these points made Utterson regard him with disgust, loathing and fear. This again brings in the fear that there is something that isn't right about Hyde, but nobody can say what it is. In ' Dr Jekyll was quite at ease' we find out what the character of Jekyll looks like. ...read more.

Conclusion

The suspense grows when Poole tells him that no letter was delivered by hand, only by post, and they were just the usual ones. Utterson gives the letter to another friend Mr Guest to look at; he notices that the writing on the letter Mr Hyde wrote is similar to that of Dr Jekyll's. It is at this moment he realises that Dr Jekyll has something to do with the murder. 'His blood ran cold in his veins'. I think that in the next chapter, the element of fear is added because we are again being told that Hyde has disappeared. We also find out about his past and how much of a cruel man he really is. When Utterson finds the letter given to him by Dr Lanyon, he again sees the words' not to be opened till the death or disappearance of Dr Henry Jerkily.' This again sparks fears about Hyde blackmailing people. Overall in the whole novel Stevenson uses elements of fear in every chapter, especially as all but one of them are set in darkness. I think that the one chapter that isn't set in the darkness could be one of the most horrifying chapters. This is because it is when Mr Enfield and Mr Utterson see the horrible change that takes place when Jekyll changes into Hyde. I think Stevenson builds up a good element of fear, but I think it would have been a lot more horrifying to an audience of the time, and not an audience now. Harriet Lund - 1 - ...read more.

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