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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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Introduction

"'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' has more to do with Gothic tradition than late 19th Century psychology". Discuss this statement with reference to Victorian morals and society as well as the writer's craft. "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is set in a gothic genre of suspense and mystery. The novel was written by Robert Louis Stevenson set in Victorian England 1886 and at a time when scientific experiments and knowledge was expanding, including the theory of Charles Darwin. The first Gothic novel was 'The Castle of Otranto' written by Horace Walpole in 1794. Other eminent authors include Matthew Lewis famous for his novel 'The Monk' and Ann Radcliffe, who was well known for her novel 'The Italian.' The novel was compiled at a time when most people in the 19th century were concerned with the doppelg´┐Żnger (double self), death and rebirth, urbanism, decline of the Empire, sexual revolution, and sexual epidemics. "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" was written during the period in history where there was a huge gap between the modern and respectable community in contrast to the other side, which was well known for its brothels and shadiness. Victorian society was divided into divisions. Such divisions included men against women, rich versus poor, and science versus art. Gothic literature, around from 1790-1820 finishing with Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', was influenced from the late 18th century on late Victorian writing. ...read more.

Middle

The effects of these descriptions build up a more ominous side to the story. Weather has a major impact of gothic tradition used in "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". There is an insertion of a few literary techniques which can be related with the weather theme. Pathetic fallacy - when the weather reflects the action of a novel - is one which is widely used in chapter 8, "The Last Night". One particular paragraph is shown on page 27 when the weather is described as being "a wild, cold, seasonable night of March, with a pale moon, lying on her back as though the wind had tilted her." Personification has been tied in with the usage of this quotation, and it gives the moon the characteristics that of which humans have. However, Stevenson narrowly inserts foreboding into this chapter as it is implied that something terrible is going to happen: "For, struggle as he might, there was borne in upon his mind a crushing anticipation of calamity." In 'The Italian' personification is evident too. Trees are described as throwing "their broad arms over the cliffs". We can also notice how when Sir Danvers Carew is murdered, "a fog rolled over the city" and "the lane was brilliantly lit by the full moon". It is clear that Stevenson wants to create a typical gothic tradition by the settings being gloomy and dark. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stevenson provides us with the message that man has two sides to him - not just Jekyll. There are many quotations to suggest this too. Such examples in this chapter include: "primitive duality of man", "the agonised womb of consciousness, these polar twins should be continuously struggling"- this is in fact a metaphor describing our consciousness being like a womb, "man is not truly one, but truly two" and lastly "I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life". From what Stevenson has produced, I can conclude that "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" cannot easily be seen as having more to do with Gothic tradition than late 19th Century psychology. We must take into account that psychology is a subject matter and Gothic is a style, however I consider the novel has been written carefully and equally in terms of Gothic tradition and late 19th century psychology as I believe the style of Gothic literature has been heavily influenced by Victorian psychology. Some might argue against Gothic tradition being the more dominant argument, simply for the reason that Stevenson has not included involvement of haunted castles and dungeons, two of the most obvious Gothic traits. As a closing statement to this essay, I can admit "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" was published truly as a chilling shocker in 1886 and still today remains as an original classic. Simran Kooner 10HA English Coursework - 1 - ...read more.

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