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To what extent is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde more than just a simple horror story?

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Introduction

Jekyll and Hyde Coursework Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is more than just a simple horror story- it contains thoughts and feelings that everyone, especially when it was released back in 1885, could connect with. It was one of the most popular books ever published at the time, selling 40,000 copies in its first 6 weeks. It is still popular today, with many stage and film versions, and the fact that 'Jekyll and Hyde nature' is a figure of speech, meaning two-faced. Another key to its success was the novels accurate reflection of Victorian society- respectability versus crime and prostitution, the rift between the rich and the poor, and mainly the great divide between good and evil. The story has many reasons behind its success. One of the most important features is that the reader has to wait right until the end to discover the truth behind Jekyll's experiment on himself. This allows Stevenson to build up suspense throughout the novel- it leaves the reader wondering why a respectable man like Jekyll would be in league with an evil man like Hyde. Another factor is how Stevenson tells the story using more than one narrator- Utterson mainly, but also Jekyll and Lanyon. This allows Stevenson to tell the story from more than one point of view. Stevenson also uses his description of settings to create an atmosphere throughout the story. He also increases the possible symbolic meaning of Jekyll's experiment- Perhaps most importantly; Jekyll is playing God in a way by tearing his two sides apart, creating an actual split personality- one of good, and one of pure evil. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore, Utterson's description of the morning after the murder makes Soho seen like some kind of hellhole. 'Muddy ways,' 'slatternly passages,' '...some city in a nightmare,' all make the city seem dark and disturbing, as though the evil of Hyde has changed the city completely. The other description that is very effective is that of the last night, which Utterson when Utterson was trying to find out what had happened to Jekyll. 'The pale moon, lying on her back as though the wind has tilted her,' gives the scene a very strange and dark atmosphere, as if there is something wrong with nature itself. 'The wind made talking difficult, and flecked blood into the face.' Talking is a very easy thing to do, so it must have been some kind of unnatural wind, therefore continuing with the sense that there is something wrong with nature itself, and the 'flecked blood...' makes the setting more dark, disturbing and maybe becoming violent. The third point I wish to discuss is how different people's points of view are used throughout the novel. Stevenson uses Utterson's point of view to tell the story- a respectable man, and a good friend of Jekyll. He found out things that connected Jekyll to Hyde, and he tried to cover them up to keep Jekyll's respectable nature intact. This suggests that in the Victorian world that Jekyll lived in, reputation was more important than the truth. The first time Utterson 'protects' Jekyll is when he is talking to his friend Enfield about the events that transpired that day involving Mr Hyde. ...read more.

Conclusion

It suggests that Jekyll thinks the experiment was a complete success: "I felt younger, lighter, happier in body." This feeling could be compared to taking a drug- at first, it feels good, but it slowly becomes a burden until Jekyll can no longer deal with it. Releasing his bad side has freed Jekyll, but it has cost him his life. Later on in the story, he begins to spontaneously change into Hyde. This shows that the evil inside of him is growing; the addiction is becoming worse. Hyde is becoming the more dominant side, and Jekyll now has to take the potion to change back. Jekyll has tried to keep these two sides in balance for so long, and now Hyde is taking over. Hyde could even be seen as the new Jekyll- taking the potion to mask himself from the truth. By originally taking the potion to become Hyde, Jekyll released his true self, condemning himself to death. The end of the story is ambiguous to us- we don't know which side was in control when they died- Jekyll could have wanted to kill Hyde, Jekyll could want to kill himself because he was stuck as Hyde, or Hyde killed himself so that he didn't have to atone for his sins. Another reason could have been that Hyde wanted to kill Jekyll- he was hidden away for so long, and Jekyll was 'so much better' than Hyde. Hyde could have wanted to make sure that Jekyll stayed hidden forever, just as he had been. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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