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How well does "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" illustrate an idea of privacy in the first chapter?

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Liam Barber N6 GCSE English Coursework Prose Study The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde "There are some things that are best kept private." To what extent does the opening chapter illustrate this view? The novella, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is one of the most well know in the English language. Throughout the novella, Stevenson refers to privacy, but often indirectly. This idea of privacy fits perfectly with the Victorian society in which the novella is set. Victorians valued their reputation highly and so in order to sustain their level of reputation they often kept their darker side covered up to the rest of the public. There are several reasons that the Victorian society were able to create this privacy. Firstly, Stevenson describes Soho as a place build up with narrow, dark streets which were covered in a heavy fog. This set up made concealing actions easier. The reader must also understand that the media in Victorian times was nothing like it is today, people usually discovered news from word of mouth rather than from the media which resulted in news becoming old before it had time to spread far. It is also important to realise that there were two Edinburghs in the time that Robert Louis Stevenson was brought up, one a very respectable and religious town and the other was known for being quite the opposite. ...read more.


This reminds Mr Enfield of a time during the darkness of an early morning when he witnessed a small deformed and "displeasing" young man, Mr Hyde, bump into a girl as they met at a corner of two streets and how the man then "calmly trampled" over the defenceless child. Mr Enfield then goes onto say how the dwarfish man opened the mysterious door using a key and returned holding a cheque written to the parents of the innocent girl as compensation for his unnecessary actions. Mr Enfield says how the cheque was, "signed with a name that I can't mention". That name was Mr Jekyll. The fact that the cheque from the hands of the criminal Mr Hyde was signed by the respectable Mr Jekyll should have raised many questions about how Mr Hyde acquired the cheque, but as usual for Victorian society, non were asked. The only matter that reached their convocation was whether or not the cheque was genuine, which it was. The fact that both the family of the girl and Mr Hyde decided it would be better to settle the incident with a personal cheque supports the argument that people in Victorian times valued their privacy and kept many events hidden from the public and the media. Both parties would rather have kept the incident from the public eye, as Victorians hated the idea of scandal. ...read more.


This could suggest that Mr Utterson does not want to interfere with the direction people are going with their lives, even if they are doing wrong. This again includes the idea of privacy as Mr Utterson is saying he does not get involved with other people's business and respects their privacy. This respect that Mr Utterson has gained for other people's privacy could lead back to the fact that he is a lawyer, as lawyers have a job to keep what ever their client tells them confidential. Mr Enfield follows the same idea by later saying, "the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask." This is a very common rule to have for Victorians, if it seems like something is not as it should be, do not get involved. I think that people thought this way because if they did get involved with an incident that is not allowed, and the story was leaked, their reputation would be at stake for having anything to do with the matter. Mr Enfield is the younger of the two cousins and described as a much more gregarious and sociable character. Mr Enfield may be less austere, but he still remained a respected gentleman and wouldn't want scandal, like most Victorian men. Stevenson successfully gets across the message to the reader that privacy was highly thought of in Victorian society. He also gives the reader an insight into the morals and lifestyles of Victorians. This is a very powerful novella as it portrays a clear message in a very short book. ...read more.

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