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Explore and analyse the significance of the setting in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Introduction

Explore and analyse the significance of the setting in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson The novel I am analysing is "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and it was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. Stevenson was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. In my opinion, this influenced him to write this novel because, like Jekyll and Hyde, he led a dual life in the respectable New Town by day and the depraved Old Town by night. It was written in the Victorian Era. Around this time, electricity had been invented and the scientist, Galvarni, had managed to bring dead cells back to life. This scientific boom led people to believe anything was possible. Furthermore, Charles Darwin was around this time, and was bringing new theories about evolution into science. This caused controversy and in my opinion influenced Stevenson to write a gothic novel that conflicts with the opinions at the time. Stevenson uses setting to add authenticity to the novel. He uses a lawyer and two doctors as credible witnesses to make the book more believable. Dr. Lanyon uses a complex vocabulary, such as "justify the formality of registration" to show that he is an educated man, and is trusted to tell the truth. Moreover, Stevenson uses official documents to show authenticity, such as the letter in Chapter 6 and the newspaper in Chapter 4. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly, windows and doors are used as a divide between different characters. In Chapter 4, a maid of Jekyll's is standing at her window and witnesses the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. The window in this chapter represents the divided classes of London. In my opinion, this portrays the image that the lower class Hyde is always watching the upper class Jekyll, and reflects the divided nature of Jekyll, with the lower class inside and upper class outside. In Chapter 1, the back of Jekyll's house "showed no window". This links back with the symbolism of the locked door, and implies secrecy and darkness. In my opinion, this adds to the allegorical setting of the story because it illustrates that Jekyll's mind is dark and unclear and doesn't want anyone to find out about Hyde. It also refers to Jekyll when he becomes ill and appears scruffy, with evil Hyde in his mind. The differences between the front and back of Jekyll's house are also important to setting. In Chapter 1, Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield are walking together along the road behind Jekyll's house. The back door of the house is described as having "neither bell, nor knocker". This gives the impression to me that something is hiding away and won't let others in, while the two negatives suggest that it is something dangerous and sinister. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, the gothic genre relies on feelings of loneliness, and Stevenson shows this through the windows and doors, which separate the characters. It is also shown through the lack of windows and handle on the back of Jekyll's house which is far from welcoming. The setting also adds to the duality of Jekyll's character. The interior of Hyde's room in Chapter 4 is an example of this. The room is described as "furnished with luxury and taste" but had been "recently and hurriedly ransacked". This reveals that Jekyll was a good man to begin with, but he has only recently let in the bad side. The windows and doors in the story emphasise a divided Victorian society, which also reflects the divided nature of Jekyll. In my opinion, Stevenson's choices of setting are very significant to the novel. This allowed him to tell an authentic story that entertains, as well as frightens, the reader. Until the penultimate chapter, the reader does not know who Hyde really is, which creates suspense. It also educates and warns the Victorian reader about how dangerous science is and tells them that anything is possible, but it has its consequences. I think that Stevenson thought a lot about the setting of this book, and without all of the little details, in my opinion, it wouldn't have been such as good a book as it was. ?? ?? ?? ?? Amy Jones Page 1 ...read more.

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