The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Discussion as an example of Gothic Fiction and as a critique of Victorian society.

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The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Discussion as an example of Gothic Fiction and as a critique of Victorian society.


This book was written at a time of change in the world of fiction as a new form of gothic literature emerged. Fin de Siecle was a new type of New Gothic that had elements that differed from previous gothic stories. Stevenson’s story is based around various shards of the gothic and is mainly focused on exposing the “duality of man” and his struggle to hide it from the outside world. The symbolism of Jekyll and Hyde is truly extended to all with differing parts in all of us. It was not a new idea as it had been seen in the classic example of a good and bad guardian, a devil on one shoulder and an angel on another, and also in gothic literature before it, such as Frankenstein with the duelling personalities of Frankenstein and the monster, creator and creation which is easily comparable with the roles of Jekyll and Hyde, “. Stevenson had his influences apart from classic novels, his past had a tremendous affect on this novella as the language, used by Jekyll in particular is similar to Stevenson with possible links between the two, gives the reader an insight into his mind. His Calvinistic upbringing has a bearing on the way Jekyll tries to describe Hyde in his final statement. We get a lexical set of words like “hellish but inorganic”, “That child of Hell” and “an ordinary secret sinner”. Stevenson was strictly brought up believing that good people went to heaven and sinners went to burn in hell, and the idea of 2 different sets of people with a divide between them stuck in his mind throughout his life. We can see how the idea intrigued him in this story with Jekyll representing the more innocent, pure side and Hyde becoming the evil, “bestial” side of man.

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Another part of his childhood which influenced his writing was of the stories were legends he heard of from growing up in middle class Edinburgh. Tales of Burke and Hare simply fed his imagination and also affected his dreams. These stories of perfectly normal people having a secret life locked in a cupboard evidently had a huge impact on Stevenson as the image of concealment and a double life is a huge part of the story, Jekyll’s struggle to hide his creation from the world, “Jekyll was now my city of refuge; let but Hyde peep out an instant, and ...

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