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How Does Stevenson Use Victorian Social Norms To Create Suspense In 'The Last Night' Chapter Of Jekyll And Hyde?

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How Does Stevenson Use Victorian Social Norms To Create Suspense In 'The Last Night' Chapter Of Jekyll And Hyde? Robert Louis Stevensons novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde included revolutionary ideas and themes for the period in which it written. The book is said to have been inspired by the early life of Stevenson in Edinburgh, a city of two halves - the industrial side of the city, home to the lower classes and the more residential side, home to more upper class families like that of Stevenson. It is widely thought that his fascination with the industrial side,the seedier side of Edinburgh inspired Stevenson to push the boundaries of gothic literature and challenge the ideas of the social norms and the rules of social etiquette that were defined by the higher classes, who are more likely to read novels such as Jekyll and Hyde. In this essay I will be writing about how Stevenson used the ideas of the social norms and etiquette to create suspense in 'The Last Night' Chapter. The behaviour of Poole, the servant of Dr Jekyll helps to create suspense in 'The Last Night' as soon as soon as he knocks on the door of Mr Utterson. This starts the build up of suspense and tension in the chapter because in Victorian society unless there was an emergency a servant would either be with his master or be expected by the person they are visiting and because Poole is without Jekyll and unexpected it creates tension and makes the reader suspicious. ...read more.


This would have added to the suspense because readers would again be waiting to see how Utterson would react. Poole is not the only character to break the rules of Victorian etiquette, upon arrival at Jekylls house the other servants, both men and women, are huddled together. This would have caused suspense because not only are the servants not working but the men and women are huddled together, something that was not normal in Victorian households and makes the reader wonder what is going on. What would cause more tension is the fact that one of the female servants "ran forward as if to take him in her arms" because of the mixing in between the social classes and because of the mixing between the sexes, something that was extremely unusual. Another thing that might have caused suspense is the fact that when the servants are reminded that they should be on duty they do not start to work, they just stand in front of him weeping, weeping would have been very irregular as public displays of affection, especially from servants was frowned upon and would make the reader wonder why. Stevensons use of imagery helps to add suspense in this chapter, he uses a combination of figurative language, pathetic fallacy, personification and emotive language. The use of these techniques creates suspense because of the ways in which they are used, for example "It was a wild, cold, seasonable night of March, with a pale moon lying on her back as though the wind had tilted her" uses personification and pathetic fallacy. ...read more.


Upon arrival at Jekylls house Utterson reverts back to his original behaviour of asking questions and ordering servants around and trying to retain his social status, however this attempt fails and he then carries on taking orders from Poole, this would have created tension for the reader because unless there were extremely unusual or dangerous circumstances the servants would have taken the orders and Utterson would have continued to shout and give orders until he was obeyed. Utterson continues to take instructions from Poole and becomes more nervous, something that would have caused tension because a strong and stern man like Utterson would not have been expected to show emotion in Victorian society. He tries to regain control of his emotions but does not hide it well "replied the lawyer, very pale" after he has been asked to listen to Jekylls voice. This would create tension because the reader would wonder why his face is pale, the reader would also be wondering why he has tried not to alarm Poole. In conclusion Robert Louis Stevenson used a variety of different techniques that use the Victorian social norms to create a very successful sense of tension of suspense for Victorian readers. He uses the rules of social conduct and norms and creates the characters to bend these rules and to push the limits and boundarys of these rules as well as to reflect the ways people behave to an extent that would shock the readers of Victorian novels but still make them interested in reading the book. ...read more.

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