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'What method does R.L. Stevenson use to increase suspense in, 'The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Is he successful in your opinion?'

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Introduction

'What methods does R.L. Stevenson use to increase suspense in, 'The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Is he successful in your opinion?' Robert Louis Stevenson, one of the masters of adventurous writing during the Victorian era, he was born in Edinburgh on the 13th November 1850 into a strict and bourgeois, middle class family. His father, Thomas Stevenson, like many of his ancestors, was an engineer and built lighthouses on the coast of Scotland. His mother had come from quite a privileged background, and had descended from a family consisting of quite high religious figures. So not surprisingly Stevenson had a pretty stern childhood and was brought up following a strict code a respectability of Victorian elders. Also throughout his childhood, he suffered many serious health problems, mostly due to faulty lungs, something which were to cause him pain for the rest of his life. Because a lot of the time his father was absent with business, and the fact that his mother carried the same medical burden, which made it next to impossible for her to look fully after him, he was assigned a person to do the job for her. This was to be Alison Cunningham, a fundamentalist Christian, who Stevenson would develop his closest relationship with. Throughout the Victorian age, men's lifestyles were shaped and ruled by a self-image of respectability and reputation. They were forced to live a life that was restrained from any enjoyment and happiness which included engaging themselves into drugs, prostitution and heavy drinking which would cause excessive emotions or spurring gossip, which was believed at the time to be one of mans greatest sins. So in order to maintain a respectable reputation, middle-high class men had to live a life of suppression and soberness. Understandably a very large amount of people could not cope with all the boundaries and so caused them to become rebellious. ...read more.

Middle

Stevenson makes it clear that it is obviously Hyde and in the account from the maid he doesn't spare the reader any gruesome details, describing the murder graphically because he wants us to recognize not only that Hyde has regressed over the past year, but to also draw our attention upon the full extent of Hyde's evil. As well as that Utterson discovers the murder weapon was a cane that he bought Dr Jekyll and the splintered remains are found at Hyde's house. So this gives us yet another clue adding to our already suspicious mind. In spite of the public uproar following the murder of Sir Danvers Carew, Hyde remarkably disappears from the scene. Utterson is relieved at his disappearance and strangely the same time Jekyll's general health state and fortune improved dramatically, and he once again was the sociable and charitable person, which he was well recognized for. Utterson sees a letter through Jekyll, who claims it is from Hyde and the writing is almost identical to that of Jekyll's and so Utterson wrongly concludes that Jekyll had forged the letter for Hyde. This, for the reader, reveals yet another clue into the real identity of as the disappearance of Hyde and what seems with his evil influence has had a tremendous effect on Jekyll. . Jekyll remains like this for approximately two months but then he suddenly and mysteriously returns to seclusion and refuses to see any friends. Alarmed and curious by this sudden change in character, Utterson goes to Lanyon to learn why Jekyll's refusing to go out and being so anti-social. When he sees Lanyon next, I think he is quite shocked at his appearance as he seems frailer and older with a frightened look in his eyes. Lanyon goes on to explain that he had recently experienced a great shock and wouldn't be surprised if he were to die in the next few weeks. ...read more.

Conclusion

Utterson notes that Hyde is wearing a suit that belongs to Jekyll, which is far too big for him. The men search the entire laboratory, including the theater and all other rooms in the building, but they don't find a trace of Jekyll. Then, on Jekyll's business table, they find a large envelope addressed to Utterson that contains three items, Jekyll's will, quite a lot like the previous one, except that it replaces Hyde's name with Utterson's. The second is a note to Utterson, with the present day's date on it. Based on this letter, Utterson quickly summarizes that Jekyll is still alive and he wonders if Hyde really died by suicide or if Jekyll killed him. The note instructs Utterson to go home immediately and read the letter that Lanyon gave him earlier. The note adds that if he wants to learn more, he can read the confession of "Your worthy and unhappy friend, Henry Jekyll." Utterson takes the third item from the envelope, a sealed packet, he then promises Poole that he will return that later night and send for the police. With that he heads straight for his office to read Lanyon's letter and the contents of the sealed packet. I feel that modern readers, reading this novel as an unsuspecting Victorian, would not interpret it as it was read when it was first written because today, Jekyll's double identity is so well known and its reputation precedes it. It is easy to see though that Stevenson intended to keep his readers in deep mystery and suspense for as long as possible, while creating a challenge for them to discover the truth for themselves. The reader only begins to realize the full of the situation, when our guide Utterson decides to dig deeper into all the unanswered questions he is faced with. Up to this point, he has been not only as a narrator but he is a way of deepening the mystery and therefore heightening the tension and suspense. ...read more.

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