Stevenson's Use Of Literary Techniques To Portray Evil In Jekyll And Hyde

4343 words - 17 pages

This essay will focus on how Robert Louis Stevenson presents the nature of evil through his novel ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. Using ideas such as duality, the technique used to highlight the two different sides of a character or scene, allegories, an extended metaphor which has an underlying moral significance, and hypocrisy; in this book the Victorians being against all things evil but regularly taking part in frown able deeds that would not be approved of in a ‘respectable’ society. This links in with the idea of secrecy among people and also that evil is present in everyone. The novel also has strong ties and is heavily influenced by religion. Stevenson, being brought up following strong Calvinist beliefs, portrays his thoughts and opinion throughout the story in his characters; good and evil.
Stevenson’s most prominent character in the story is the mysterious Mr Hyde. Edward Hyde is introduced from the very first chapter when he tramples a young girl in the street, which brings the reader’s attention straight to his character. The reader will instantly know that this person is a very important part of this book and that he plays a key role in the story. This role is the one of a respectable old man named Dr Jekyll’s evil side or a ‘doppelganger’. This links in with the idea of duality. Dr Jekyll is described as being ‘handsome’, ‘well-made’ and ‘smooth-faced’. On the other hand, Mr Hyde is described as being ‘hardly human’, ‘pale and dwarfish’, giving of an impression of deformity and ‘so ugly that it brought out the sweat on (Mr Enfield) like running’! These words all go together to conjure up an image in the mind of an animal, beast or monster. During the novel Hyde is rarely involved in the story when it is daytime, instead we meet him when it is dark or at twilight. This gives the impression that Hyde is a monster than comes out only when it is dark and nobody can see him. Whatever he is, he cannot be called human. In Victorian England, if a person looked ugly, criminal-like or ‘giving an impression of deformity’ they were considered to be ugly and criminal-like inside to. If you imagine a person reading this story when that was what was thought, the description of Mr Hyde would instantly label him as the bad character.
During the story Hyde’s actions compounds our first impressions of him. Stevenson never says exactly what Hyde takes pleasure in on his nightly forays but it is thought to be of things that would ruin Jekyll’s reputation if they ever came out. There is thought to be strong ties to drugs, alcohol addiction and other dangerous dealings; ‘he had once visited her (the maid’s) master and for whom she had conceived a dislike’. In the very first chapter, Mr Enfield tells his friend, Mr Utterson, a story where he witnessed a strange looking man walking along a deserted street, who ‘trampled calmly over (a) child’s body and left her screaming on the...

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