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How Does Stevenson's use of setting in "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" reveal the themes in the novella?

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Introduction

Jack Prickett How Does Stevenson's use of setting in "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" reveal the themes in the novella? "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886 in Bournemouth, but set in Victorian London. This story is about how a London lawyer, Mr Utterson peruses the last will of his old friend Henry Jekyll that his suspicions are aroused, is Dr Jekyll the evil Edward Hyde? Stevenson's ideas originated in a dream he once had. Upon waking he recalled 'a fine bogy tale' and began to write about it. The focus on the split personality and underlying suggestion that evil is potentially more powerful than good ensure its continued popularity over a hundred years on. There were many influences acting upon Stevenson when he wrote this novel, there was a divide in society which was created by the Industrial Revolution, the divide between the classes was great, and caused a big gap in wealth between the rich and the poor. Stevenson was also influenced by religion, stories by Alison Cunningham meant nightmares of hell stayed with him. He also decided that the world is not made up of good and bad, but people were a mixture of both. Literacy influences included a story so shocking and different for the earth in the 19th century that no one had ever thought like this before. ...read more.

Middle

Stevenson explores this duality in every human mainly through Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde. Stevenson suggests that in all of us there is a seed of evil, "man is not truly one, but truly two" The story also demonstrates how an innocent curiosity about our darker side of our nature can get out of hand, "in the agonized womb of consciousness these polar twins should be continually struggling". All the characters in the story suggest good and evil, fro example, Lanyon didn't tell anyone about what Jekyll was up to, the respected man, but was wandering the streets at night; maybe he wasn't the good man he was made out to be. The hypocrisy of man's actions is a very central theme to this story. Stevenson makes Hyde represent the dark side which is present in all people, but some of the other characters want to kill Hyde, and in wanting to do this, they are rejecting what is in fact part of their true selves and so are therefore also guilty of hypocrisy. When the policeman hears of Danvers death he immediately thinks that if he finds the murderer the he will get promotion, "And the next moment his eye lighter up with professional ambition". Lanyon also doesn't help anyone by not telling anyone about Jekyll. Stevenson uses several symbols to represent the predominant atmosphere of secrecy in the novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hyde lives it is not very nice, just live the evil person himself - not very nice. This door connects to Dr. Jekyll's house and laboratory the door leads directly to the laboratory, with a square courtyard in the middle, and Jekyll's house on the opposite side, again showing the good on one side, and the evil on the opposing side. Within this complex on buildings there are many locked doors, bars on the windows, and dark rooms, hiding away secrets, and creating tension in the novel. The weather plays a great part in revealing the themes of the novella, when Utterson and the police are trying to find Hyde the day turns to night which is a metaphor for Jekyll changing into Hyde and the dark side of the character being revealed, it also shows the secrecy of the underworld at night and the oppression of the dark side of life. The day that Jekyll transforms into Hyde in the park is a clear calm day, but he transforms due to the thoughts of evil and the growth of evil within him, this shows great hypocrisy as the quiet, joyful, still day can still produce evil. In conclusion the setting is very important as it makes the story realistic, this can only be done if the setting itself is believable, which it is, Stevenson does this by making the setting description extremely detailed and by using vivid imagery and description. This doesn't just make the setting realistic but also makes the book a very interesting read. ...read more.

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