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In writing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson at once creates a statement about the human condition, a critique of Victorian society and a gripping mystery. How does he do this?

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Introduction

In writing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson at once creates a statement about the human condition, a critique of Victorian society and a gripping mystery. How does he do this? Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson, born 1850, grew up in a respectable Victorian middle class household in Edinburgh. His nurse was a fundamentalist Christian who taught Stevenson about good and evil. This teaching gave him nightmares, out of one of which was born 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. Victorian Edinburgh had two 'personalities': the prosperous middle-class New-Town, where Stevenson lived, and the 'old black city' with poverty, disease and over crowding. Men at that time could not play dirty, meet women and get drunk; the darker and more mysterious forces of the personality were suppressed being considered too uncivilised; this was very rude and disrespectful. So men had to do this secretly which meant they were like living two different lives, having two different faces: one which was good and highly respected and the other sneaky and disliked. Experiencing this double standard Stevenson started his plot for his story; to cheat life and become two different people. Stevenson's novel is about mystery and science. ...read more.

Middle

Hyde has disappeared in chapter five and Utterson goes to see if he's at Jekyll's. We are told the Jekyll has changed; he's pale and scared. There was no sign of Hyde but Jekyll gives Utterson a letter from Hyde which says Hyde will not return. It turns out Jekyll was lying about the letter; no letter was delivered that morning. Jekyll or Hyde must have written that letter, we suspect Jekyll, otherwise why would he have lied. Utterson consults Guest; a hand writing expert. He compares Hyde's letter to the writing on an invitation written by Jekyll and notes it's very similar, "it's a very interesting autograph... there's a rather singular resemblance; the two hands are in many points identical; only differently sloped." This makes us even more suspicious about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; they're defiantly both linked somehow. The truth is revealed after Jekyll/Hyde has died through the narratives of Lanyon and Jekyll. Jekyll provides autobiographical details and expresses his views on human personality which help the reader unravel the plot. Hyde, Jekyll and Lanyon change throughout the novel. At the start of the novel Hyde tramples over a child accidentally, "and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground." ...read more.

Conclusion

Hyde's body is found, "Right in the midst there lay the body of a man sorely contorted and still twitching... and beheld the face of Edward Hyde." and Utterson and Poole keep it secret, "in that case can we venture to declare this suicide... I would say nothing of this". They keep it secret so nobody would examine it and find the truth. Jekyll's drugs are kept locked away, "to open the glazed press on the left hand, breaking the lock if it be shut." Jekyll has locked his drugs secretly so no other human shall meddle with them, damage or use the drugs themselves and create something disastrous. In addition to the secrecy, the multiple-perspective narrative contributes to the mystery. We are told the tale through the eyes of Enfield, Utterson, Lanyon and finally Jekyll. By revealing the plot through letters, diaries and finally, a casebook, the author makes us feel that we are involved in an intimate revelation of true feelings and events. Until 'Dr Lanyon's Narrative' we a re only given glimpses of Hyde through the eyes of the other characters, which draws us into the mystery as well as revealing information about those characters themselves. The moral of this story is to not try to play God. Hamza 11MS ...read more.

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