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How does R. L. Stevenson create horror and suspense in the novel 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?'

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Introduction

Rye Hills School English Department Pre 1914 Prose Assignment - 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' How does R. L. Stevenson create horror and suspense in the novel 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?' 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is a classic horror novel written by R. L. Stevenson. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1850. He grew up in Edinburgh which had two very different faces: the prosperous, middle-class new town and the 'old black city' with its poverty, disease and over crowding. This can be compared to the novel because of the duality of nature between Jekyll and Hyde. The novel would have had a different impact upon its original readers because at this time London was a divided city; there were two major extremes, the rich and the poor, and as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde portray both these extremes the novel is shown from the two ends of the divided London. Jekyll lives in a respectable area which has 'an air of invitation' and Hyde lives in 'a sinister block of buildings.' Also, in 1886, the readers of 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' would have interpreted the torments of Henry Jekyll as the traditional struggle between good and evil. The novel is about a respectable doctor, Dr Jekyll, who transforms himself into a savage murderer, Mr Hyde. A girl is ruthlessly trampled over by this vicious Mr Hyde and he writes a cheque for �100 compensation; however the cheque was signed by Dr Jekyll. ...read more.

Middle

This chapter is appalling and inhumane to the reader. The passage which describes Carew's murder is macabre and distressing, 'bones were audibly shattered,' this clause is effective because it appeals to the senses and makes it sound more horrendous and abominable. It is odd that Carew gets brutally murdered like this since he appeared to be such a nice man. This passage also presents horrific details that Mr Hyde beat him with his power and strength. R.L. Stevenson creates more suspense and mystery and gives subtle hints that the murder could have something to do with the mystery of Jekyll and Hyde because it could have had something to do with the will. The description of the setting as being, 'a district of some city in a nightmare,' is a sinister description creating atmosphere and horror. The ever-present fog contributes to the atmosphere as it is gloomy and it also portrays secrecy as it can be used to 'cover up' things. A threatening atmosphere is created with the flickering of street lamps and the personification of the fog, for example 'the fog still slept.' In chapter five horror and suspense is created by the description of Jekyll as it contrasts with that of before, 'Dr At Ease,' however now he looks 'deadly sick' and is terrified. This shows the reader that his connection with Hyde is making him ill Jekyll has received a letter and this creates suspense and secrecy, he is unsure about whether to show it to the police and this creates mystery. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stevenson makes evil prevail in the end because Jekyll is banished by Mr Hyde, however this could be Stevenson telling us that evil is stronger or because humans are weak-willed. His opinion of this could be shaped like this because of his background; he was brought up as a Calvinists and this emphasised that our desires are naturally evil, so this would mentally affect you as a child. To conclude, it would be impossible for the modern reader to read this novel as an unsuspecting Victorian might have done because people see things like Jekyll's double identity in everyday life, on the television and read it more in books so they are aware of what could happen, however in Victorian times they did not have television and so the only place where they would see this is in books. All of the devices that Stevenson has used to create horror and suspense have a strong impact upon the book because he wanted to keep the readers in suspense for as long as possible and he tried to make them discover for themselves the ending by leaving a series of clues. Overall, I think this was an interesting book, at times I found it quite difficult and got a bit confused, however I soon picked up again. I think that Stevenson was clever in the way that he used multiple perspectives to heighten the suspense of the story and thought that it was a good novel. Finally, the novel has had such a large impact on language that it has become a saying now. The phrase 'Jekyll and Hyde' describes someone with a split personality as being nice and nasty. ...read more.

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