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The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is and was a work of horror fiction.

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Introduction

Sam Butler The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is and was a work of horror fiction. Horror fiction in the 21st century has evolved far from its origins, to the extent where classic horror novels of the Victorian Era are considered to be parodies of how people perceive horror today. The novel 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", which stands alongside classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein, is a powerful ethical symbol that suggests the shadowy nature of human personality. The reading of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to a modern audience would no longer hold the ability to shock and scare the reader, whereas this was its main aim at the time of the production. It is therefore important to consider the ways in which the definition of horror and how people recognise horror has changed over time. This essay will establish the ways in which this has happened, and also comment on aspects of the text which horrified readers of the 19th century in England. Firstly, this essay will comment upon the character of Mr Hyde. The personification of Jekyll's dark, ungratified desires, Hyde creates havoc and eventually overpowers his 'civilized' alter ego. In the 19th century, Hyde's appearance and the behaviour he demonstrates throughout the text would have stunned a 19th century audience, as the manners he conducts were beyond the acceptable level of society. Early on in the text, Hyde is described as 'some damned juggernaut'. This was subsequent to the unpleasant incident in 'Story of the Door' wherein Hyde commits an appalling crime, witnessed by another character in the text. In this incident, Hyde intentionally causes harm to 'a young child, about 8 or 10'. "I saw that Sawbones turned sick and white, with the desire to kill him' This quotation is taken directly from the text, and is voicing the opinion of the doctor that treated the young child's injuries. ...read more.

Middle

As the murder becomes more and more intense, more 'fog' rolls over the scene, covering the parts that the author wants to remain unrevealed to the reader. "Although a fog rolled over the city in the small hours, the early part if night was cloudless and brilliantly lit by the full moon" This sentence suggests that even though it was very early in the morning, and although a fog was 'rolling' over, there was still light, however the only light was coming from the full moon, this giving the impression that there were no streetlamps in this part of the town. It is describing the atmosphere before the murder of Sir Danvers Carew, suggesting a pleasant, calm atmosphere experiences by the maid who we later find out is about to witness a horrendous, tragic murder. Stevenson is creating the impression that although there is fog, which again brings mystery into the text, the tone is peaceful before the crime, maybe symbolic of Carew's 'peaceful' nature. Here, fog now becomes an important narrative symbol, as earlier it was said that it obscures details from the eyes, in the same way that these accounts leave out parts of the story necessary to solve the connection between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. As the crime progresses, the atmosphere becomes more and more intense, suggesting that there is a wave of evil in the air, as Hyde puts a 'shudder in the persons blood'. In Story of the Door' the atmosphere before the trampling of the girl is also obviously meant in leading up to when Hyde commits his first act of evilness. "Of a black winter morning, and my way lay through a part of town where there was nothing to be seen but lamps. Street after street, and all the folks asleep, all lighted up as if for a procession". The above quote explains the atmosphere before the trampling of the girl. ...read more.

Conclusion

The cultures that people came from, the religion they acted to and the beliefs that they thought to be true would all have been disrupted by this new theory of living, as it suggested that man came from apes, not God. Stevenson appears to be deliberately upsetting his Victorian audience by playing upon the shocking theory. Charles Darwin's publication of 'The Origin of the Species' confirmed a lot about what researches were wondering. Although a lot of this seems hard to believe, that people could be scared by a story such as this, this would no longer be the case in modern day reading. The perception of horror has intensified through time, and film directors and authors have become more accustomed to using blood and gore, so less is left to peoples horror imagination. The way people view horror has changed somewhat to a level where violence plays a key role in getting the reader engaged in film or text. A story like "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" would no longer scare a modern 20th century audience. It has lost its shock value, as 20th century audiences are over familiar with the techniques used. In conclusion to this, I think that in the Victorian Era Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde would have been equipped with the relevant information to shock and scare the audience in which it would have been aimed at. I also think that each aspect of the text helped to achieve this, for example through violence, the character of Mr Hyde, mystery and suspense and setting and atmosphere. The fact is that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde would no longer be relevant to a modern day audience as times have changed dramatically, and how people perceived horror then, has changed now. Although the text helped to define the key conventions of a horror story, these alone are no longer shocking to a modern audience as they would have been to those of the Victorian Era, The genre has had to more on, and evolve to maintain its original purpose. ...read more.

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