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How does Robert Louis Stevenson use literary techniques to illustrate the social, historical, cultural and moral points he is trying to make in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

How does Robert Louis Stevenson use literary techniques to illustrate the social, historical, cultural and moral points he is trying to make in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is a novella that was written an 1886 and has gone down in history as one of the most famous works of gothic 'horror' fiction. The term 'Jekyll and Hyde personality' is used in society today to depict someone with a dual personality who is a kind of schizophrenic, describing someone who lives a double life of outward morality and inward iniquity. At the time when the book was written, Victorian society on the surface was extremely civilised and was dominated by strict codes of conduct, polite manners and repressed sexuality. Great social emphasis was placed on duty and decorum and the book explores the outlook and manner of the Victorian people, and their 'obsession' with keeping a highly regarded, highly respected society governed by strict codes of conduct and polite manners. The importance of the church and marriage was greatly emphasised, as was the following of the expectancy to behave morally at all times. The Gothic nature of the book is shown in Stevenson's vivid descriptions and dark imagery such as 'the most racking prangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death.' ...read more.

Middle

This book is said to be a good example of a gothic novel with its dark and foreboding atmosphere and its almost supernatural goings on. Throughout the novel Stevenson uses nightmarish imagery of dark streets twisting and coiling or being blanketed in fog 'a great chocolate covered pall lowered over heaven' 'lamps kindled afresh to combat the mournful reinvasion of darkness.' Stevenson must have chosen this genre because it suited the bizarre happenings of the book. Jekyll and Hyde is seen to be the classic gothic horror story that has lent itself to countless films. The dual personality of Dr Jekyll is reflected further by the settings and surroundings used in the text. Stevenson uses an image that there are two sides to Jekyll's house by using contrasting adjectives. The respectable 'Jekyll' side to the house stands out to the seediness of its surrounding structures 'shone out in contrast to its dingy neighbourhood', and the 'Hyde' fa�ade is bleak and neglected and stands out amongst thriving, well kept commercial structures and being 'plunged into darkness.' This may well be another example of Stevenson relating to the respectability of Victorian society because it mirrors how people covered and enclosed their doings behind their fa�ade of morality. Stevenson's opening descriptions of the street show the contrast between the 'handsome houses' and the houses that are 'now for the most part decayed from their high estate'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The second attack is the murder of an elderly politician Sir Danvers Carew. As in the first murder, we are given the contrast of innocence and evil and beauty and ugliness. The picture of an innocent old man and the 'madman' Hyde. The beauty of the night with the fog and street 'brilliantly lit by the full moon' and the ugliness of Hyde and his actions 'short and disgusting looking'. The two attacks we come across are both monstrous attacks on people that have seemingly done nothing to provoke his rage and even less to deserve death. This shows us that Hyde's brand of evil consists of, not just a lapse from good but a decent into the far reaches of evil. Robert Louis Stevenson uses literary techniques to illustrate the social points he is trying to convey by continuously drawing out attention to the difference of peoples attitudes to life in and out of the social limelight. He outlines the duality of human nature, that we lead a double life, one of 'outward morality and inner iniquity' and the social importance of obeying the 'rules' expected of them. At the time the book was written Victorian upper class Society was very repressed, they found it difficult to express feelings and always kept their feelings from others. Stevenson uses this 'inwardness' to portray the difference between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde even though they are in fact the same person. Charlie Oliver L5H. ...read more.

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