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What are the Main Difficulties for a twenty-first Century reader in fully appreciating Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde(TM)

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What are the Main Difficulties for a twenty-first Century reader in fully appreciating 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' The most prominent factor that affects how a twenty-first century reader can fully appreciate the novella, is simply the 'old-fashioned' grammar and vocabulary. This novella displays expressions that have either died out or changed meaning over the years. There are concepts within the novella that may have been controversial and new at the time it was written but have now have been discovered as a result of scientific advancement. The description in the novella is limited in such a way that the reader has to know a lot about London before the introduction of modern transport and roads. "...the low growl of London..." (p21), which most likely refers to the sounds of a horse and cart going along the cobbled roads. Although nowadays the 'low growl' could be related to the noise of cars, it is not a thought-provoking image as the reader has to relate the sound to something in the reader's experience and cars are an unrealistic idea to imagine in this novella. ...read more.


It is not something used as guidelines to judge the actions of others anymore. "...go to the devil in his own way." (p1) shows how this threat, in my opinion in the nineteenth century, would have been a substantial one. However, from my limited experiences, I would say that this comment would not have such a high impact. The transformation from human to a beast-like creature seems very unrealistic as science has evolved to an extent where such a thing is known to be impossible. But at the time that this novella was written, there would be less scientific knowledge which may enable nineteenth century readers to consider the realistic possibility of the transformation taking place. The structure of the novella also poses a difficulty in the sense that it echoes the moral message of the text. There is a split ending in the same way that Dr Jekyll has a split personality, as the last two chapters are first person, but the rest are all in third person. ...read more.


shows how the writer conveys the emotion of Mr Hyde, which enables the reader to relate to the character and therefore have no strong feelings against him. There is a common feature through all of these points and this is that the novella is written for readers who have a similar way of life to Robert Louis Stevenson. Plots are best understood when the reader can relate it one way or another to their own experiences. A lot of the novella is built on assumption that the reader will recognise what he is describing. For example, "...the foggy cupola." (p34) which is not something that occurs in modern day society. This novella is challenging in the sense that it is a twenty-first century reader trying to picture nineteenth century life with little background and only small pieces of information given by the writer. The main difficulties for a twenty-first century reader in fully appreciating 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is that the detail given, is designed to add to the surroundings, not create the scenery from scratch. The novella works on the basis that the reader is aware already of what a city in the nineteenth century is like. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This question orientates around the belief that Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is not as potent a novella as it would be considered in the Nineteenth Century. This is a common exam question ...

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Response to the question

This question orientates around the belief that Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is not as potent a novella as it would be considered in the Nineteenth Century. This is a common exam question for this novella, and as such candidates should do well to appreciate the temporal effect of text that has been interpreted in so many ways to a modern day audience; it's hard not to feel slightly underwhelmed when reading the original scripture and so this question requires a very sensitive awareness of how the effect of the novella has eroded over time. There is a successfully consistent focus on the proposed question steer and there are a number of highly valid analytical comments made about why the novella isn't as potent as it once was to it's original, Nineteenth Century audience.

Level of analysis

This answer addresses many of the aspects about the novella which prevent it being fully-appreciated in today's society, such as Louis Stevenson's choice of language; thematic elements like religion and ugliness as a sign of criminality; the advancement of science and the readers' schema and expectation of setting which prevent the appropriate atmosphere being conjured in their minds. In every sense, this novella has aged very badly, but instead of simply condemning it as such, this candidate handles the topic very sensitively, realising a number of challenges for the modern day reader and, with every point made, has drawn upon an appropriate source from the text itself. This is an excellent form of effective analysis as it shows the candidate has overcome the hurdles the novella presents and understands it on a level profound enough to comment objectively (and subjectively, in part) and provide evidence from the source text.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is very good. There is a wide range of vocabulary used in this answer and a good range of punctuation. To improve this answer further, the candidate should work on their ability to use all manner of punctuation with confidence and flair (colons, semi-colons, parentheses, etc.) to vary the structure of their answer and to show examiners they are comfortable writing with more complex linguistic tools.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 05/03/2012

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