• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the aspects of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel that make it a horror story showing awareness of particular social, historical and cultural influences

Extracts from this document...


In this essay I will be discussing aspects of Robert Louis Stevenson's, "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" that make it a horror story, whilst showing an awareness of what was happening in Victorian England at time the novel was first written and published. Victorians were often concerned with the concept of a 'double self' or 'twin', often referred to as a Doppelganger. This is relevant to the novel with the theme of metamorphosis and the fact that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the same person. The genre of the story is gothic horror. This nineteenth century genre began with a story about a type of double, when Dr Frankenstein created his monster in 1818. 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written in 1866. This novel was not the only story which expressed Stevenson's fascination with dual personality of man. In two other works, the short story 'Markheim' and the play Deacon Brodie there are characters who also lead double lives. At the time people, especially authors were concerned with many ideas such as high crime rate, medical and technological breakthroughs and people scared of the unknown. All of these ideas are relevant to the novel. High crime rate is relevant to the novel because of Mr Hyde committing crimes. ...read more.


In the section of the 'Carew Murder Case' Hyde is described with animalistic imagery. Although the elderly man seemed to address Hyde with perfect politeness, Hyde, without replying, suddenly flew into a wild rage and began to batter the helpless man. Animalistic imagery is clearly represented by Hyde here. His fury is described as 'ape-like'. He is also described as 'trampling his victim under foot', the word trampling makes the sentence as if an animal was doing it.Yet if Hyde were just an animal, and we would not expect him to take such delight in crime. Indeed, he seems to commit violent acts against innocent people for no reason except the joy of it, something that no animal would do. He appears deliberately and happily immoral rather than amoral, he knows the moral law and basks in his breach of it. The Metamorphosis between Jekyll and Hyde is another key feature of the novel. The metamorphosis is happening in the first place because of Dr Jekyll's Experiment. Dr Jekyll is trying to get rid of all evil, by splitting good from evil. We are given clues to suggest that they are the same person, such as the fact that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde have never met each other and are never both in the same room but Dr Jekyll still lets Mr Hyde in his house and gave him a key. ...read more.


'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written as a mystery story but is a problem for the modern reader. That is today, most people already know that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person before beginning to reading the novel. This reduces the enjoyment for the modern reader. The Victorian may or may not have realized that they were the same person but it is not until the penultimate chapter, 'Dr Lanyon's Narrative', that Jekyll's terrible secret is revealed. Up to that point, we were given fascinating glimpse of Hyde though the eyes of other characters and, as well as drawing us into the mystery of the story, these also tell us important things about the characters themselves. Until the last two chapters, it could be said that 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is a gripping mystery story. I think the novel is very effective as a horror story as it creates drama and the settings of the story are that of gothic horror. The novel was scarier in the 19th century than it is now. This is because the novel was published that time and the Victorians found it very scary and were concerned with the concept of 'double self'. Several symbols are used throughout the novel to explore the theme of the 'double self'. Overall tension, animalistic imagery, metamorphosis, symbolism and the mystery of the novel makes it's a great Gothic Novel. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Robert Louis Stevenson section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Robert Louis Stevenson essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Why would a Victorian reader find "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr ...

    4 star(s)

    vivid, using short sentences to give a strong atmosphere of tension and all of the descriptive words are dark, using dark colours like black and setting some of the scarier scenes at night to make it darker and more gothic.

  2. Explore Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the Body Snatchers as both gothic ...

    turbulent pressures' the ordeal changed him for the better, the author is reflecting and portraying the different sides of a person and how man can be influenced especially when it is for the worse. The author also uses, Dr Macfarlane to portray hypocrisy, who "breathing, as he did, of wealth

  1. Explore the range of narrative techniques used in Jekyll and Hyde

    This is because Utterson was trustworthy and comforting to the Victorian reader due to his logic and professionalism. Utterson's professional background would have been greeted by Victorian readers as it was someone they could relate to; he was a gentleman with a strong reputation which was good for a Victorian for both the social and business sides of life.

  2. With particular reference to the construction of Mr Hyde, discuss how portrayal of the ...

    An example of this is that Jekyll's evil side only comes out at night, as this relates to Stevenson's theme of good and evil, where evil is associated with darkness and mysterious atmospheres. The first we learn of Mr Hyde is through the "very odd story" that Enfield tells Utterson at the beginning of the novel.

  1. How does Stevenson create fear for the reader in the opening chapters of the ...

    The novel played one peoples fears and maybe opened their eyes to what could possibly happen. Violence can add an element of surprise, this tension could shock and thrill the reader. In a good horror story the reader is unaware who is to be hurt next, this creates fear and mystery.

  2. Robert Mighall describes 'The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde' as 'more ...

    Many hints in the novel suggest that the misdeeds of Jekyll and Hyde are sexual in nature. One example is when Hyde tramples a young girl and then pays off her family. Child prostitution was rampant in Victorian London, and there may be a suggestion of it here.

  1. Chapter 4 in 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is one ...

    The aforesaid theme of duality is also apparent in the contrasting descriptions of Sir Danvers Carew and Mr. Hyde. Carew is described by the maidservant as 'an aged and beautiful gentleman' with 'a very pretty manner of politeness' which is a perfect description by Stevenson to evoke sympathy for him

  2. Consider atmosphere and setting in the 19th century stories you have read, and discuss ...

    In Victorian England, alongside the developing scientific principles of research and exploration, accusations of witchcraft were still routine and still taken very seriously. As we become more able to make sense of the physical and the touchable, the supernatural - and indefinable - becomes even more mysterious.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work