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Explain how Stevenson uses setting in 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' to convey themes and issues in the novel.

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Introduction

Explain how Stevenson uses setting in 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' to convey themes and issues in the novel 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is a gothic horror story written by R.L. Stevenson, first published in 1886. It was one of many horror stories of its time, but was the first to use science as an explanation for the perpetration of evil. The book was published twenty-seven years after Darwin's 'The Origin of Species' and they both made a link between man and ape. 'Jekyll and Hyde' does this by portraying Hyde as being a hairy, ape-like human. 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde' expresses the belief that evil lives inside all of us, and that sometimes the evil can escape from the control of those who are good. Stevenson uses setting as a feature to portray the ideas that run through the book. When Mr. Utterson goes to Hyde's flat in Soho, the theme of duality is brought up in many places. ...read more.

Middle

It uses "mournful" to bring out feelings of melancholy and gloom. "Darkness" also gives a bleak and obscure feeling to the area. The description of Soho is also one of bleakness and squalor. Words like "dismal" and phrases such as "like a district in some city in a nightmare" give the area a sinister and hellish quality. It is also described as having "muddy ways." This evokes an image of dirt and grime and unpleasantness. It's also said to have "slatternly passengers," i.e. seedy inhabitants. It tells us that the place is inhabited by very squalid low lives and that Soho is not a desirable place to live. This description is contrasted against the other areas depicted in the novel, which are at the other end of the spectrum such as the street where we first encounter Hyde's House. It is portrayed as "florid" and "(it) shone out in contrast to its dingy neighbourhood," and this shows to us that London has it's own duality, paralleling the main idea in the book. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, London is "deserted," and this imparts a sense of fear as to why everyone in a usually bustling city has turned indoors. The fire in the house has changed in appearance. It is now much larger conveying, to us a hell like aura and the servants are described as "like a flock of sheep," which portrays them as weak and helpless against the big predator which is, of course, Hyde. However, outside Stevenson at one point describes the house as "wearing a great air of wealth and comfort, though now it was plunged into darkness." This tells us that although the house is obviously very beautiful, still there is something slightly sinister and mysterious about it. I think the point of the house in this book is to reflect the personality of the man who inhabits it. Jekyll's half is described in a positive contrast to Hyde's, and yet still retains a sense of being not quite what it seems on the surface. In conclusion, we can see that Stevenson effectively uses setting to convey the theme of duality in 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'. ...read more.

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