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Robert Louis Stevenson in 'Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde' makes London in the Victorian era an essential element of the story, because London at the end of the 19th century was the centre of a massive empire.

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Introduction

Robert Louis Stevenson in 'Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde' makes London in the Victorian era an essential element of the story, because London at the end of the 19th century was the centre of a massive empire. It was the epitome of what other towns and cities should be like. The gentlemen of London were the 'perfect' example of how everyone should behave. A respectable gentleman was thought to be a rational man, a good Christian, a responsible person. This was the vital concept to the leaders of Victoria's Empire. This, however, put extreme pressure on the gentlemen of London to be absolutely perfect; they were unable to commit even the slightest sin. They were the example to the entire British Empire; they were the role models of gentlemen all around the world. ...read more.

Middle

As he grew older he had to hide these pleasures and lead a double life. He already believed that there was an animal side to men, that "man was not truly one, but truly two", but to remain in the high positions of society, Jekyll had to hide his darker side. This is true of Victorian London as well. There was the respectable side of London with clean streets, nice houses, and respectable people walking along the streets. Then there were the wild and unruly streets that were home to the poor of London. The London gentlemen showed off great wealth and respectability. Their houses were grand and elegant. They boasted of the clean streets and squares of London. However, just behind the houses were the filthy alleys, where people lived in terrible conditions (probably worse than most of the conditions in the 'uncivilised' colonies of the British Empire). ...read more.

Conclusion

This is just like Jekyll and Hyde being the same person. One of them may be generous, kind, and respectable, and the other may be wild, but they are both the same person; and it is this that Stevenson believes the Victorians need to face. London is vaguely like a character too, one like Doctor Jekyll. A character which has a lesson to learn: to avoid the animal or dark side of your character is wrong. The darker side will break loose, and wreak havoc, like Mr Hyde murdering Sir Davers Carew after being 'cooped up' for so long, having been "long caged". With "a more furious propensity to ill...the spirit of hell awoke in [Jekyll], and raged". The result was murder, just as it was in Whitechapel in 1888 when the Victorians were finally forced to face up to the violence hidden in their society and, through Jack the Ripper's killings, the ghastly conditions that many of their citizens endured. ...read more.

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