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How important is the setting in R L Stevenson's portrayal of a double life in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

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Introduction

How important is the setting in R L Stevenson's portrayal of a double life in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The strange case of 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written in 1886 by Robert Lewis Stevenson. Robert Lewis Stevenson was born and brought up in Edinburgh in the 1850's. He was part of a middle class family, his parents were strict Christians and it was very important to them that Stevenson behaved respectfully. When Stevenson was a child, Stevenson's nanny frightened him with stories of hell and suffering which may have contributed to his ideas in the novel. When he was a young man in Edinburgh he may have used a false name or a hidden identity in order to indulge himself in forbidden activities or he may have fantasized about them, like crime, affairs and homosexuality. In Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Stevenson uses his experiences to describe the unpleasant side of life. The novel is about how Dr Jekyll leads a double life and its devastating consequences. ...read more.

Middle

Stevenson sets the murder scene in a lane which the maid's window overlooked and interestingly chooses the murder to be 'brilliantly lit by the full moon'. He does this in order to display every detail of the murder and to show the viciousness of the attack. For example the murder is described as 'a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered'. This tells us how brutal and violent the murder was by the maid being able to hear the victim's bones being broken. It also gives the reader the full affect of the damage that had been done. The murder is particularly shocking because it enables the maid to describe the murder so well as a result of the murder scene being so brilliantly lit by the moon. The characters' houses in the novel also suggest something about them, Dr Jekyll's house, for example, is described as having 'a great air of wealth and comfort'. Hyde's rooms are described as 'well furnished', but they're located in Soho which is a seedy area full of unrespectable people. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stevenson created a genre called urban gothic, this is because he set the novel in a familiar place and also at the time he wrote the book. He created a modern urban setting in order to engage his readers which mean they feel all the emotions more intensely because they can imagine it happening to them. The idea of the double life in the novel not only is of interest to Victorians but also to modern day readers because of the familiar setting. The phrase 'Jekyll and Hyde' personality is used today when someone shows two very different sides of their personality because the book is about Dr Jekyll who leads a double life as Mr Hyde. So by saying a 'Jekyll and Hyde' personality it is like saying a 'split personality'. We can see many of the ideas that are in the novel in our present times for example leading a double life and this suggests that the ideas behind the novel are still as relevant today as they were in Victorian times. ...read more.

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