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Explore the ways in which Stevenson uses setting to enhance the readers understanding of character in Jekyll and Hyde.

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Explore the ways in which Stevenson uses setting to enhance the reader's understanding of character in Jekyll and Hyde. When 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written, London was a very dark place, where a series of gruesome crimes had taken place. Although it was the largest and the richest city in the entire world, it contained extremes of wealth and poverty; it was almost as if there was a dividing line, there were two different worlds in one city. Also, many people still believed in God and that we were all descendants of Adam and Eve. However, attitude towards both, crime and religion, was changing due to scientific theories like 'survival of the fittest' and 'the theory of evolution' coming out to the British public for the very first time. Robert Louis Stevenson used many different settings to represent two sides to one personality in his novel. At the beginning of the novel, Stevenson describes a bright, inviting street. The description is full of good comments and putting the street into the light-"florid charms...street shone out in contrast...cleanliness and gaiety of note" demonstrate this point. ...read more.


The two descriptions of the house tell us that there are two sides to Dr Jekyll, and that in Victorian society, it was common for the good side in respectable men to show and for them to repress their darker side. In this novel, Dr Jekyll finds a way to express both his good and repressed side by creating a potion. Jekyll becomes the good person during the day, acting in the way society would accept, andd at night he was able to release his repressed self in the form of Edward Hyde. Because Jekyll had fought so hard to keep his dark side away, when Hyde was finally released, he was small, deformed and full of hatred. This side of Jekyll was not a side that society welcomed as it was a strict and very formal world that Dr Jekyll lived in. Revealing your darker side or darkest feelings etc, was prohibited in the Victorian era and if anyone's private life got out, they shunned by the society and forced to live a secluded day. However Jekyll was not happy about having to repress his dark side and released with drastic consequences; the fact that Hyde was pure evil and hatred and once he was released, it was bound to become impossible for Jekyll to repress him once more. ...read more.


His laboratory is described as "a certain sinister block of building ... which bore in every feature the marks of profound and sordid negligence." The connection between Jekyll's house and Hydes' in Soho similarly relates to the link between the people they represent. The buildings are adjoined but look out on two different streets. Because of the tangled layout of the streets in the area, it would be difficult to detect that the structures are two parts of a whole, just as it would be difficult to detect the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. In conclusion, Robert Louis Stevenson has used many different settings and various methods to convey character throughout the story. For example, pathetic fallacy is used in the novel to emphasise the duality of London, "with its general cleanliness and gaiety of note" is used against the description of Soho, "reinvasion of darkness...were of the gloomiest dye." Cavendish Square is described to reinforce Jekyll's character of good and Soho to support Hyde's evil. Stevenson also uses the characters successfully to convey the ideas of duality in humans and uses the setting and atmosphere to support all these ideas. He also used ideas that many might be afraid to use for example he describes Hyde with having 'ape-like fury' which could be linked to Darwin's theory of evolution. ...read more.

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