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Which skills and techniques does Stevenson horrify his contemporaries?

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Introduction

In the novella Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson wants to horrify his contemporaries and does this using physical, psychological and thematic horror. The story of an upper class Victorian man who feels trapped in his role in society and leads a shady double life that eventually spirals out of control would have hit home to Stevenson's contemporaries, many of whom secretly frequented and were obsessed with maintaining a good reputation. This would also horrify today because many people lead double lives (such as having affairs etc.) and become addicted to drugs, which can ruin their lives. The physical horror in the novel is shocking because it was very graphic for its day. Today we are more used to such graphic description and it has lost impact. The themes of the violence and evil in us all and the morality of science were very relevant in Stevenson's time and remain so today. Psychological horror is used to great effect by Stevenson in Dr. ...read more.

Middle

Jekyll believes that "man is not truly one, but truly two" so therefore he is Hyde all the time. This horrifies both in Victorian society and now because a lot of people do not want to think they are capable of such terrible things. When, today, we see murderers on the news, part of the reason we are shocked tends to be because we wonder how anyone could find in inside themselves to commit such terrible crimes. In a similar way Stevenson horrifies us by personifying the horror inside ourselves inside which we do not wish to face. Linking to the issue of evil in us all the issue of everyone being vunerable to addiction; in "Henry Jekyll's Full Statement Of The Case" Jekyll writes "...and it was as an ordinary secret sinner that I at last fell before the assaults of temptation." I think the third most important source of psychological horror that Stevenson uses is the fact that Dr Jekyll is a respectable member of society who loses control to addiction. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stevenson's use of this technique is very effective because it makes the point that addiction can happen to anyone, no matter what their social standing or status. Jekyll says in "Henry Jekyll's Full Statement Of The Case" that "My devil had been long caged, he came out roaring." With this Stevenson is trying to tell his contemporaries that if they repress their true desires it will lead to disastrous consequences. This would have horrified Stevenson's contemporaries because it was an issue that wasn't discussed. When Utterson and Enfield talk about Hyde stepping on the child, they make a deal to never discuss it again. Physical Horror is also used to horrify by Stevenson. I think the most important source of physical horror in the novel is the "unexpressed deformity" of Edward Hyde, which comes up frequently. Almost everyone who has been is horrified by his appearance yet no on can pin down exactly what is so horrible. Stevenson uses psychological and physical horror together here. The reason Hyde gives and "impression of deformity without any namable malformation" to his beholders is because he is the personification of the evil in jekyll. ...read more.

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