Pre 1914 Prose Assignment: How Does Robert Louis Stevenson Create Mystery And Suspense In 'dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde'?

4554 words - 18 pages

Robert Louis Stevenson originally wrote 'Jekyll and Hyde' as the darkly complex tale it still is today. Stark, skilfully woven, this fascinating novella explores the curious turnings of human character through the strange case of Dr. Jekyll, a kindly scientist who by night takes on his stunted evil self, Mr. Hyde. Anticipating modern psychology, 'Jekyll and Hyde' is a brilliantly original study of man's dual nature - as well as an immortal tale of suspense and terror. First published in 1886, 'Jekyll and Hyde' was an instant success and brought Stevenson his first taste of fame. Though sometimes dismissed as a mere mystery story, the book has evoked much literary admirations, and some likened the novella as "a fable that lies nearer to poetry than to ordinary prose fiction." Gothic horror was growing in popularity in the 19th century and this included 'Jekyll and Hyde' along with several other novels with the gothic horror theme. For example, the Gothic phenomenon in popular culture consisted of: Bram Stoker's novel 'Dracula', Mary Shelly's novel 'Frankenstein' and Stephen King's novel 'The Dark Half' and his more recent short novel, 'Secret Window'. Most of these novels were written before 'Jekyll and Hyde' and so were, consequently, very likely to have influenced Stevenson slightly whilst he wrote his short story. Stephen King still acquires success from the genre in the present day, as the desire from readers for a traditional horror novel still exists thanks to the perpetual interest in the mysterious, unexplained and impossible themes that is always incorporated into this type of novel.Even today, this classic Victorian mystery story consistently ensnares new readers. Yet, most people these days are aware of the eventual outcome of the story and sometimes, despite the fact that they have never read the novel nor seen any other adaptation of the original plot, they nonetheless know the basic idea which is raised - the possibility that every human has a 'good' and a 'bad' side. 'Jekyll and Hyde', however, is not the only novel that raises the focus on dual identities. Other films - as well as novels - that have adopted a similar theme are plentiful as there has always been a niche for tales of such subjects due to people's enduring interest in the darker and more sinister side of man. Nevertheless, Robert Louis Stevenson's original, 19th Century readers, would not have been as aware of the developing storyline as readers would be now. This was because the story at that time was a unique piece of work in terms of the detective / mystery genre. It would therefore not have necessarily occurred to people what the result of the subtle foreshadowing (the use of hints or clues in a narrative to suggest what action is to come) would be. The foreshadowing helps to build suspense in the story because it suggests what is about to happen, heightens the tension and has a considerable influence on the readers thought process.Within this essay, I am going to...

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