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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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Balraj Singh Sohal. 10R. Mr. Pollard. 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? Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells of how a scientist abuses his knowledge so that he can become another being but the double he becomes is one that cannot be directly blamed for his crimes and actions. Throughout the story Stevenson uses many different literary techniques to convey how the characters feel. These can be categorized into many different themes: the double, hypocrisy, suppression leading to violence, the beast in man, secrecy and control. Structures, language and style also contribute to illustrating the social, historical, cultural and moral points Stevenson making in this novella. The genre of the novella is a gothic, detective one. Works by Poe and Conan Doyle were very popular at the time. Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories combined detective and gothic to a great effect. Through out the novella, many references are made to the gothic style of having dark imagery, suspense and pathetic fallacy. An example of this is when the setting is being described. 'It was a wild, cold seasonable night of March, with a pale moon...' We also know that this story has a detective genre; a clear example of this is when Mr. ...read more.


Stevenson also uses imagery, to convey the other characters' hatred for Mr. Hyde, he writes, '...killing was out of the questions...we were keeping the women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies. I never saw a circle of such hateful faces...' This gives the image of women and men all encircling Hyde with faces of hatred, as though they want to kill him. A social and cultural point that Stevenson is attempting to put across in this novella is secrecy in the Victorian society. The Victorians considered secrecy to be very important and Stevenson uses a couple of symbols to illustrate this in the first chapter. Firstly, we are told that the dreary house '...showed no window...' and then we are told that Mr. Hyde enters and disappears behind the mysterious cellar door. The author's short and economical descriptions help to emphasise this. Another social and cultural point is that Stevenson does not mention anything about women, and focuses everything around men, which tells us that at the time women were not seen as equals in their society. During the second chapter we are told the story from Mr. Utterson's point of view and get our first detailed description of Mr. Hyde. Mr. Utterson describes Mr. Hyde as having animalistic features, as the author writes, '...with a hissing intake of the breath.' ...read more.


This shows how vicious the wind was. This description of the weather is also pathetic fallacy as it is a sign of bad things to come. Once Utterson arrives at the house with Poole, they see the servants '...huddled to together like a flock of sheep.' Utterson immediately says, 'What, what? Very irregular, very unseemly: your master would be far from pleased.' This is a society note, as it shows that the Victorians had a preoccupation with the sense of duty. The author illustrates the surprise of Utterson through the repetition of what and very. This shows that he would not have expected the servants to stop work even at such a time of crisis in their household. The way Utterson speaks to Poole shows that he has a higher class than him. Poole is shown to be speaking cockney, giving the impression that he is not very educated, where as Mr. Utterson speaks very good English. Utterson is always known as Mr. Utterson while talking however Poole is never spoken to as Mister Poole. This subtle difference in the direct speech shows that Mr. Utterson is of a higher class than Poole. The idea of Hyde not being human and having something morally wrong with him is also illustrated when Utterson speaks to the person within the basement, and the author writes, ' A voice answered from within: "Tell him I cannot see anyone," it said...' This shows that the person in die the basement is certainly not Jekyll and probably Hyde, as Hyde is seen to be subhuman through out the novella. ...read more.

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