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How does Robert Louis Stevenson build and maintain a sense of mystery and suspense in

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Rob Faulkner How does Robert Louis Stevenson build and maintain a sense of mystery and suspense in "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"? Robert Louis Stevenson wrote "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in 1886 after waking from a dream in which he recalled a "fine bogy tale". The book was published in the same year and its likes had never been seen before. It gave a chilling insight into the murky depths of both experimental science and the duality of the human mind. These two fields of study were both in their infancy at the time so the novel was delving into the unknown, which instantly creates mystery about the text, this was the key to the success of the book, in my opinion. In the writing of "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" Stevenson set a standard to which all writers who followed aspire. It is a ground breaking novel which was produced to such a standard that it is studied in schools as an example of writing which can still envelop the reader in a world of mystery, suspense, secrets and deceit despite the time that has passed since it was originally written. ...read more.


As an audience we have no real idea of what Jekyll is going through and therefore cannot even attempt to predict his actions. An unpredictable character is invaluable in a novel that relies so heavily on uncertainly and the unknown. Jekyll is not the only mysterious character in the novel, Hastie Lanyon is a fellow scientist and friend of both Jekyll and Utterson. He accused Jekyll of delving into "such unscientific balderdash that would have estranged Damon and Pythias" and has clearly been less of a familiar face around the social gatherings of Dr Jekyll than of ten years prior. Lanyon went from sharing Jekyll's experiences to keeping an eye on them "for old times sake" which suggests to me that he learnt something about his companion which drove a stake through the heart of his loyalty. We know that it was not the knowledge of the Hyde experiment that appalled Lanyon so much as he learns of this for the first time later in the novel, and the shock eventually brings about his demise. The fact that the audience never discovers what initially pulled Lanyon from Jekyll's side serves to heighten their interest in the trio's past. ...read more.


This venting of his feelings through text allows us an insight into Robert Louis Stevenson that other novels such as "Treasure Island" would not. We are given the benefit of seeing what Stevenson would most like to achieve, freedom from the shackles of high society but with the option of returning to it at any time, but also of seeing that he was aware of the consequences should things go wrong. The fate of Jekyll was decided by Stevenson to be a sour one to show what can happen when greed overcomes restraint, when curiosity overpowers caution. One of the most important statements this novel made to me was that no one person can be wholly good or wholly evil. A good person will always have the desire to throw off the burden of reputation once in a while and duck below the bar of expectation to the other side. An evil person will always feel the want, no matter how faint, to step out from the shadow and into the light and once more be counted as a human being. Stevenson knew this and put on full display what might happen if a mere mortal could tamper with Gods delicate mixture of Good and Evil. ...read more.

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