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Explore how Stevenson uses the conventions of the horror genre to create a vision of Victorian London.

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Introduction

Explore how Stevenson uses the conventions of the horror genre to create a vision of Victorian London. Robert Louis Stevenson uses the conventions of the horror genre to create a vision of London in the "Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" to great effect. Stevenson uses all the different conventions of horror together to create a disturbing tale of good an evil, and incorporates the features of mystery, crime and death, suspense and atmosphere. One of Stevenson's most effective themes in "Jekyll and Hyde" is the use of mystery. Stevenson asks and sets up countless questions throughout the novel, but answers only a few. This means that the reader is continually having to answer questions for themselves, but before you have come to a conclusion, Stevenson has set out another for you to try and answer. The first question, one which lasts throughout the novel, is the background of the characters and what has happened in the past between them. At first Stevenson gives a small description of Mr. Utterson's appearance and some of his background: "Mr Utterson the lawyer was a man of rugged countenance...", and his few hobbies, but little background information is given about any of the characters. ...read more.

Middle

Another terrifying theme is the death of Dr Lanyon. At first Lanyon is described as a "hearty" and "healthy" man, who has a "boisterous and decided manner". This though changes drastically as the novel unfolds. He is said to have "grown pale", and he was "visibly balder and older", yet this has only happened over a short period of time. We know that Lanyon has discovered something terrible about Jekyll, and that he is "quite done with that person". We later find out what it is that Lanyon had found out, the terrible truth behind Jekyll, and his true feelings which are disclosed in "Doctor Lanyon's Narrative". Lanyon is so distraught after finding out the truth, that not only his mentality suffers, but his usually excellent physical state rapidly deteriorates and is shortly followed by his death. A different aspect of crime that is connected with "Jekyll and Hyde" is homosexual blackmail. Although Stevenson never specifically mentions homosexuality, it is fair to say that it is what the reader is meant to believe and if he had talked directly about it then he would have been thought of badly when it was first published. In Victorian times homosexuality was a crime, and was thought of a lot worse then than it is now, and it would have been thought that Jekyll was being blackmailed by Hyde and that he was homosexual. ...read more.

Conclusion

When bad and mysterious events are happening, this is shown in the weather and atmospheric descriptions that Stevenson uses. This is excellently shown by: "The fog still slept on the wing above the drowned city", and: "a pale moon, lying on her back as though the wind had tilted her". Both these descriptions of London are implying that the city is dead, but this is only a metaphor for the terrible events that are happening in the city. The second quote occurs when Poole and Utterson are preparing to break into Jekyll's cabinet, which is shortly followed by the death of Hyde and Jekyll. The first is shortly after the death of Sir Danvers Carew, and illustrates the feelings of the characters being described, in this case Utterson and Mr Guest. From "Jekyll and Hyde" we can tell that all of the different conventions of the horror genre are required to create a truly terrifying novel. Stevenson uses these conventions to create a vivid and horrific vision of Victorian London, with not only it's physical description but of the people inside it. Mystery, suspense, crime and death and atmosphere are all incorporated and closely joined to create a truly spine chilling horror novel. ...read more.

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