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How Does Stevenson make Victorian London an essential element of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

How Does Stevenson make Victorian London an essential element of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, son to a Thomas Stevenson, a prosperous civil engineer and Margaret Balfour a daughter of a Scottish clergyman. Stevenson suffered from T.B. and in an attempt to cure himself he spent most of his time in warmer countries. Stevenson was looking at London from an outsiders' point of view. Edinburgh was a similar town at the time, and he must have used Edinburgh as his model for his fictional London. Morality was very important to the Victorians as they thought they had to set an example to all the 'barbaric' and 'uncivilized' nations such as India in their empire. A few centuries before the Victorian era the nobility led around armies and they pillaged, raped, killed and generally did what the wanted. ...read more.

Middle

London as does all towns, villages and cities has different personalities from the weekdays, which would be busy, and the weekends would be quieter, and during the day and the night. At night the smog descends down onto the town all gas lamp lit, which provided little light and in the poorer areas the lamps were never lit, or broken. "The lamps, unshaken by any wind, drawing a regular pattern of light and shadow." This means that if you committed a crime it would be very easy to disappear back into the shadows, of the night. In the novel Stevenson brings the inanimate object of London to life giving it human characteristics "with an air of invitation, like rows of smiling saleswomen." Stevenson links the setting of Victorian London to the characters. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Darker side of London is swept under the carpet by the richer London, and ignored as Dr Jekyll tries to suppress Mr Hyde. Stevenson is an outsider so he has no desire to keep it all hidden, so he openly writes about the back alleys of London, which no rich insider of London would do at the time. Darwin released his theory of evolution around the same time the book came out, and the Victorians were appalled about the idea that we evolved from animals as in those days breeding was everything. Mr Hyde gives off a "strong feeling of deformity although I can't specify the point" Dr Jekyll contains Mr. Hyde and in consequence, when he breaks free he is much worse and he has to go straight out and do something terrible like the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. As the richer side of London is trying to contain the poorer side when it breaks free it does something awful like the Whitechapel murders. ...read more.

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