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The role of the first chapter of 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', as with the first chapter of any novel, is to capture the reader's interest. This is vital, so that they are captivated enough to continue with the novel.

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Introduction

The role of the first chapter of 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', as with the first chapter of any novel, is to capture the reader's interest. This is vital, so that they are captivated enough to continue with the novel. This interest can be gained in a number of ways; this essay will discuss the effectiveness of the first chapter of 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', and how it capture's the reader's interest by establishing setting, character and themes. Robert Louis Stevenson created 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' after a childhood and early adulthood of illness and nightmares. In these nightmares, 'Hyde' appeared to him as a then-unnamed demon, fears which were not helped by his childhood nurse's tales of Hell. Another factor that lead to the writing of Jekyll and Hyde was the continuous arguments with his father, a Calvinist with strong, puritanical views on religion. The views which Stevenson had conflicted with those of his father, who thought that Stevenson's previous works - children's books and poems - were sufficient, and any dealings with a more sinister genre would prevent him from entering Heaven. Stevenson's father's views were reflected in a confused Edinburgh, where religious views were affecting a whole society... At a time when Charles Darwin's book 'The Origin of the Species' was causing a period of change and unease within society over the theory of evolution, and the possibility that God hadn't created man, everyone appeared confused. ...read more.

Middle

Utterson's attraction to sin, (yet refusal to sink below his professional status), his representation of the majority of Victorian society, his likeness to the author himself, and the detective-like way in which he attempts to unfurl the plot, all make him an essential, and empathic, character. Because of this, Utterson's character in the story helps to draw readers in further, and holds their attention throughout the first chapter. His role within 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is therefore successful in my eyes. The character of Mr Richard Enfield, however, is not a major role within the first chapter. Although he is the main speaker, he is used by Stevenson as a vehicle through which the story of 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is established. He represents another duality, being almost an exact opposite of Mr Utterson in his reputation. Where Utterson is respectable and trusted, the "last good influence on the lives of down-going men", Enfield's occupation is not revealed, although he is described as a "well-known man about town", and many cannot see what he and Utterson find in common to converse about. However, their weekly meeting took priority over any business or other pleasures; this in itself makes the readers wonder what it is which links these two opposing characters so strongly. ...read more.

Conclusion

continue discussing him; and although Dr Jekyll hasn't even been mentioned by name in the first chapter, Utterson clearly knows something - he says "if I do not ask you the name of the other party, it is because I know it already...your tale has gone home", and this sparks yet more interest from the readers who are envious as to the information that Utterson holds: why does he seem to know more than Enfield about Jekyll and Hyde when he wasn't directly involved, and why does the door ignite interest from this most interesting of characters - what does he know? The readers feel forced to read the following chapter to see whether their curiosity is resolved. Because Stevenson's novel has successfully captured attention by the end of the opening chapter, it is almost certain that readers will continue with 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. For these reasons, 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' made Stevenson famous, and from my reading of the first chapter, I have no doubt that he deserved this fame, for an arresting gothic horror novel which enticed his readers to finish the book, and solve the mystery of 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. From Your Reading of 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson, Explain how the First Chapter Establishes Setting, Character and Themes to Capture Reader Interest ...read more.

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