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How does Stephenson create a sense of horror, mystery and tension in the first two chapters of his novel, "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"?

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Introduction

How does Stephenson create a sense of horror, mystery and tension in the first two chapters of his novel, "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"? In this particular essay I will look at the first two chapters of 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' and explain all the examples of horror, tension and mystery. I will look at the characters and their actions, the surroundings and atmosphere, foreshadowing and Jekyll's will. On the first page of the story we are introduced to Mr. Utterson, a 'rugged' London lawyer. He is described as 'emotionless' and his face was "never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty, and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment...and when the wine was to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye." This could be relating to the story later on (perhaps an example of foreshadowing). It does not say Utterson is inhuman, it simply means that once he goes out with friends he becomes more detached from his profession and enjoys a drink which makes him relax. It is trying to say that Utterson was almost a monster at his profession and only became more into a more normal, human way when he was out with friends. Of course the foreshadowing here is of the transformation of Jekyll into Hyde, but Utterson knows nothing of that until much further on in the book. Utterson is said to be "austere with himself," meaning he follows a strict set of rules which he follows exactly. Being a lawyer, this could be a great advantage, as he needs to be organised and exact in his work. Utterson is a lawyer who represents criminals, so he has dealt with some horrible people, but shows no emotion towards it and just gets on with his work, believing he must work to live. Utterson takes his work very seriously. Another example of foreshadowing between the lines here is that Jekyll was also a professional, much like Utterson, and had to follow strict rules (being a doctor) ...read more.

Middle

This adds to the horror as Hyde has just taken a cheque out of his house in another man's name, meaning he could be blackmailing that person or stealing from them. And when Hyde's check is handed in by Enfield, he finds it to be genuine. Enfield then remarks on the possibility of blackmail - "an honest man paying through the nose for some of the capers of his youth. Blackmail house is what I call that place with the door." Utterson then asks if the bearer of the cheque lives at Hyde's address. Enfield says "he lives in some square or other," and says the house is "scarcely a house." Utterson then asks about Hyde and Enfield uses even more evil language to describe his features. "There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man so disliked...He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity." On the last page of this chapter, they bargain never to mention the story again. On the first page of the next chapter, Utterson returns to his home in "somber spirits," and sits down to dinner "without relish." Utterson is obviously anxious about something and is uneasy, adding to the tension. This something is Jekyll's will, as we find out. Utterson "had refused to lend the least assistance in the making of it," telling us that Utterson could tell there was something not right about it and just couldn't put his finger on it. This is also strange because Jekyll had known Lanyon and Utterson the longest and they used to be good friends. The will states that in the event of Jekyll's death, disappearance or "unexplained absence for any period exceeding three calendar months" Hyde would step into Jekyll's shoes, "free from any burthen or obligation, beyond the payment of a few small sums to the members of the doctor's household." ...read more.

Conclusion

Also if Hyde is troglodytic he is uncivilized and knows no remorse. "O my poor old Harry Jekyll, if I ever read Satan's signature upon a face, it is on that of your new friend!" Utterson believes there is something truly evil about Hyde and decides to try and convince Jekyll, so he goes to his house, "which wore a great air of wealth and comfort, though it was now plunged in darkness except for the fan-light." This is mysterious as the house is in darkness apart from one light. Utterson enters and Poole, the butler goes to check if Jekyll is in, while Utterson sits. "But to-night there was a shudder in his blood; the face of Hyde sat heavy in his memory; he felt (what was rare in him) a nausea and distaste for life." Utterson , who deals with hardened criminals and law breakers and is tough and never lets it get to him has suddenly been reduced to a suicidal madman by Hyde and feels sick just by thinking of him and as it says, it was "rare in him." Poole says Jekyll isn't in. Poole also says he only sees Hyde around the laboratory - which is strange enough in itself if Jekyll is not in. He leaves Jekyll's house and says that Jekyll was "wild when he was young" and is being punished by God. Even though Jekyll hadn't done anything seriously wrong, there was lots of little things that amounted. Utterson then decides to find out if Hyde has secrets, "black secrets by the look of him; secrets compared to Jekyll's worst would be like sunshine. It turns me quite cold to think of this creature stealing like a thief. For if this Hyde suspects the existence of the will, he may grow impatient to inherit." Utterson believes Hyde is stealing from Jekyll and may grow impatient to gain whatever is in the will, so he may kill Jekyll to speed things up. Utterson says he must change the will and help Jekyll. ...read more.

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