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How does Robert Louis Stevenson use contemporary Victorian issues in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"?

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Introduction

How does Robert Louis Stevenson use contemporary Victorian issues in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"? Robert Louis Stevenson manages to blur the lines of reality in his novella, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." He does this by adding in small and, occasionally, well concealed ideas and themes of the Victorian era. This includes things like the level of crime in 1800s London and comparisons between Mr. Hyde and Jack the Ripper, London's most notorious serial killer ever. It also shows how the Victorian middle and upper class sought respectability and on the outside, appeared to be upstanding members of the community. However, many engaged in less than respectable acts such as meeting prostitutes and taking drugs such as opium in the many dens in the East End of London. This is very similar to the double life of Jekyll and Hyde lead. But some of the story's plot can be traced back to how Edinburgh, Stevenson's birth place and where he grew up. ...read more.

Middle

In the next section, it describes the action of the murder and just how horrifying it was. "Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway." This level of graphic detail made the murder seem almost unbearable to the reader sometimes causing distress but always making the book stick in their mind. The Victorian middle and upper classes need to look respectable was a driving force in many of their activities. Many tried to present the image of being an upstanding member of the community while secretly being drunks, clients of prostitutes and drug addicts. They tried their best to keep this side of their lives quite by only visiting these places at night or making sure they were far from home. They also tried to show themselves as being a nice person by doing things for certain charities and being teetotal. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Stevenson uses the current news articles and views of the time to create a world which is in two worlds. One is the fictional London in which Hyde walks the streets, the other a London which really did exist. By creating this overlap, he made people feel like hey were involved, like what was happening in the book really could happen in real life. This may have been what made it a great success. However, one other theory that states that, at the time of writing the novella, Stevenson was high on cocaine and did not stop writing for 3 days. This throws in the question could all of the supposed ideas and views drawn from real life just be a drug educed haze? While there is no concrete proof of this, it is quite interesting to think that one of the world's greatest stories could be nothing more than the hallucinations of a junkie. Whether this is true or not, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" remains one of the greatest books ever written. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sam Aston Miss Rowat 10S English ...read more.

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