• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Stevenson Discuss and Reflect Victorian Society and Culture in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Extracts from this document...


How does Stevenson Discuss and Reflect Victorian Society and Culture in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? In this essay I will be exploring the ways in which Robert Louis Stevenson portrays and reflects the society into which his novelette, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was initially introduced. To do this I will explore setting, language and form within the novel. There are also a number of themes and ideals that I will also discuss Gothic Literary Tradition, Victorian Science, duality, hypocrisy and Victorian concepts of virtue and vice. Many of the characters in "Jekyll and Hyde" show two sides to their personality. This duality is shown in their spotless and respected public face that contradicts their despicable behaviour in private. Possibly the most obvious example of this is seen where Sir Danvers Carew, a respectable MP and gentleman, seemingly a perfect person in Victorian society, is seen and killed whilst in Soho. At the time, Soho was a very undesirable area of London where respectable men were not expected to be, at an unusual time of the night. The lateness of his visit there suggests that he was doing something that he didn't want his friends or anyone from his social circle to see, probably something deviant. Soho was a haven for drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, all types of crime and very poor people. ...read more.


This may be because he is secretly acting upon the evil longings that he must suppress for most of the time, due the social expectations of a man in his position Another way that Stevenson explores Victorian society is through its science. At the time of the publication of the book, one new scientific theory was the Darwinian theory of evolution. This is explored in the book. Many Victorians believed that criminals were less evolved than normal people; they were thought to be a throwback from humanity's primitive past. Hyde, the criminal, is often described as being similar to an animal and less evolved. Specifically, he is described as being "ape-like" in his fury. Mr. Utterson says, "The man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic." This implies he is primitive and less evolved. When Poole and Utterson are breaking into Jekyll's cabinet Hyde emits, "A dismal screech, as of mere animal terror." Again, animal-like traits are highlighted. Gothic Literary Traditions from the time period of the publication of the book are also important when we are discussing its storyline and themes. They were traditions that were commonplace in novels of the time. There were set rules and patterns. There is the idea of the gothic "monster" which was very common at the time, which takes the form of Hyde in this case. There was also the typical atmosphere of darkness and secrecy and unnatural forces at work. ...read more.


The reader would recognize much reality in the book. They would see truths from the time. For example, the pressures of society would be familiar. Some may be shocked or slightly uncomfortable when reading it, because the ideas of living double lives and suppressing evil and acting upon it in privacy, would have rung true of some readers. To discuss this in the open would have been out of the question and may have put certain individuals in an extremely uncomfortable spotlight. As was discussed earlier in the essay there was a clear Victorian mentality that reputation was very important, possibly the most important thing to some individuals. So some may have had private feelings and longings and may have acted upon these in private. On seeing this in the book, Sir Danvers Carew's situation for example, it may have felt to them as though they were no longer safe to have a sinful private life as people new that this sort of thing happened. * * * In conclusion I think that the book is a fairly truthful reflection of many aspects of Victorian society and culture, especially the idea of living a double life. I also think that Stevenson's use of Gothic Literary tradition is effective. In the novelette, he provides a new variation on traditional themes. All in all, I think that Stevenson employs a high level of reality and supplements this by drawing from the literary culture of the Victorian Britain of which he was a part. To do Quote for page 3 paragraph 2 ! Quote for page 4 para 2 !! ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson essays

  1. What view of human nature does Stevenson present in the novel "The strange case ...

    Utterson's job is to keep peoples wills and not comment and refuse them for personal reasons and dislike. But Mr.Utterson goes out of his way and becomes curious. He Dislikes Jekyll's Will and when he hears about the trampling of the girl he becomes obsessed with the character of Mr.Hyde; he sets himself a mission to find Hyde.

  2. How Stevenson uses his techniques as a writer to present character and atmosphere in ...

    The bells that Utterson hears are representative of the evil that he is about to meet. Stevenson suggests the atmosphere of the night with, 'gross darkness of the night,' or 'nocturnal city.' He also creates an evil atmosphere by writing that Mr Utterson was recalling the incident of the girl who was trampled on by 'Mr Hyde.'

  1. Discuss the idea of duality in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. ...

    In addition Utterson finds "a large envelope was uppermost, and bore, in the doctor's hand, the name of Mr. Utterson." This refers to the secrets that are in envelopes and as if Utterson is unravelling the mystery. The chapter concludes by Utterson leaving, telling Poole not to say anything about the note, "we may at least save his [Jekyll's] credit."

  2. "Man is not truly one, but truly two" - A discussion on how this ...

    Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' were chosen and designed very well. Utterson was a key person in the story, as the reader learns about the plot mainly through him. Being a lawyer, he is a man of complete integrity. He is a rather depressing character, but the reader trusts him, as in the first

  1. Jekyll and Hyde chapter by chapter summary.

    Utterson tells Jekyll that he should get outside more. Jekyll replies that he wishes that he could, but he doesn�t dare. As he finished his words, his smile disappeared from his face and was replaced by a look of utter terror, a seizure had overtaken his body. The two men only glimpsed it briefly before the window was shut, but were overcome with disgust with what they had seen.

  2. Chapter 1: Story of the Door

    He prepared the potion and describes in bitter and horrific detail the painful transformation that occurs after taking the potion and transforming into Hyde. He postulates that the evil side of his nature was less developed, smaller, younger than Henry Jekyll.

  1. How is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde typical of a Victorian Gothic Novel?

    be presented as a wealthy and civilised country, when behind the mask it was riddled with problems such as drugs, poverty, and murder. Almost every Gothic novel takes place in a strange, mysterious location, and London in this novel matches the criteria well. Mr. Utterson represents the typical Victorian gentleman.

  2. Man is not truly one, but truly two. Show how Stevenson explores this idea ...

    Jekyll. Glad to know Dr. Jekyll ?have had a lesson,? Mr. Utterson happily returned to his house where he finds out ?Henry Jekyll forged for a murderer.?? Handwritings of Dr. Jekyll?s letter and Mr. Hyde?s were exactly the same except for the small difference in slope.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work