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Pre-1914 Prose coursework: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Pre-1914 Prose coursework: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an examination of the duality of human nature. Discuss the duality expressed in not only Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but also Utterson, Poole, and the city of London. The novel 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in the Victorian era, which had a very different culture from today. The book was first published in 1886 in England and it brought success to the author. The Victorians had strict moral codes to live under as middle class people and had to be well respected to be considered as a good person. The character's reputation emerges throughout the novel as an essential tool to success in the society of the era. Another Victorian value expected of them was to live a life without any sin and to obey the Bible as literalists. However, this only prompted people to keep certain thoughts secluded, behind closed doors instead of eliminating them. Stevenson explains to the reader that humans have lots of different sides to each other and not just one. The final chapter of the novel, 'Henry Jekyll's Full Statement Of The Case' explores the ways in which the author presents Victorian attitudes to the nature of humans. He also explains how duplicitous humans are, which means how people often have two separate approaches to their life. The duality of man means the two sides of the person's mind and is most apparent in, as the title suggests, the characters 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'. The separation of Jekyll into two beings, Jekyll and Hyde, is an analogy for humankind's conflicting forces of good and evil. ...read more.


Stevenson uses London's landscape to create tension in this chapter, when a maid witnesses the scene by using descriptive words in sentences like 'was brilliantly lit by the full moon' which indicates a spotlight like scene on a stage. 'Although a fog rolled over the city... the early part of the night was cloudless' gives the impression that the weather can change quickly and be unpredictable, yet again mirroring Hyde's character. The weather also suggests that the city can give Hyde cover when he needs it and that his power is growing. Initially, a rolling fog gives the reader an eerie suspicion as it is often associated with horror films. It builds tension by making the scene feel trapped and fog also enhances the feeling of other things becoming faded and less important. It would have been particularly effective as the industrial revolution was taking place around this era. Consequently, a 'fog rolling over the city' could be seen as deadly smog which was produced by factories in major cities. 'Brilliantly lit by a full moon' implies that there is a spotlight which builds suspense that a key event is about to unfurl. 'Through wider labyrinths of a lamp-lighted city' suggests that London is inescapable, like the labyrinths of Greek mythology. The phrase uses alliteration effectively and suggests that if this 'lamp' were to blow out, the city would turn dark in two ways. 'At every street corner crush a child and leave her screaming' is used when Mr. Utterson was thinking about Mr. Hyde's actions. This sentence is used to help show exactly how horrific and deformed Mr Hyde appeared. Even without mentioning the character we know who it is. ...read more.


The book metaphorically explores what would happen if we went back on the evolutionary timeline. This theme of duality or dichotomy permeates right through to the end of the novel. However, Stevenson's message about the dual nature of the human personality in 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' may be interpreted in a different way. Some people might think that mankind is not made up of good and evil, but is one primitive creature, which has been transformed into a civilised being due to the natural evolution theory which Darwin introduced around the same time as this novel was written. Throughout 'The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' Stevenson subtly comments on Victorian society. He describes the duality of life and how misleading life is and was. This may have influenced the society to change their moral codes. It may have also inspired more fictional writers to be more imaginative. His lasting moral message of 'man is not truly one, but truly two' could be considered with a number of meanings: civilisation versus savagery, good versus evil, or religion versus science. All of these were significant to Stevenson and are asked rhetorically throughout the novel. I think that the structure of the novel contributes to the development of the themes effectively, as they do not emerge fully until the last chapters. By giving us several narratives in the book, Stevenson provides stronger evidence that this is a realistic novel instead of being a one sided fantasy. Stevenson also does this to develop the characters independence and shows layers within the book where each character is missing parts of the information, leaving us to piece together the true story and answer the unsolved questions. He interconnects the duality of many characters and scenes of the novel to contribute to its dual theme. ?? ?? ?? ?? Emma Durham 1 ...read more.

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