Stevenson's Use of Literary Techniques in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells of how a
scientist abuses his knowledge so that he can become another being but
the double he becomes is one that cannot be directly blamed for his
crimes and actions.
Throughout the story Stevenson uses many different literary techniques
to convey how the characters feel. These can be categorized into many
different themes: the double, hypocrisy, suppression leading to
violence, the beast in man, secrecy and control. Structures, language
and style also contribute to illustrating the social, historical,
cultural and moral points Stevenson making in this novella.
The genre of the novella is a gothic, detective one. Works by Poe and
Conan Doyle were very popular at the time. Doyle, who wrote the
Sherlock Holmes stories combined detective and gothic to a great
effect. Through out the novella, many references are made to the
gothic style of having dark imagery, suspense and pathetic fallacy. An
example of this is when the setting is being described. 'It was a
wild, cold seasonable night of March, with a pale moonâ€¦' We also know
that this story has a detective genre; a clear example of this is when
Mr. Utterson says, 'If he be Mr. Hydeâ€¦I shall be Mr. Seek.' This tells
us that there will be some detective work happening through the
novella. This combination of gothic and detective fiction was popular
during Stevenson's time.
During the first chapter, we meet Mr. Utterson and Mr. Enfield walking
through the streets of London, and when they encounter a mysterious
cellar door. We see Mr. Enfield give the first description of Hyde, he
says, 'It was like a man, it was like some damned Juggernaut.' This
shows how Hyde had no remorse as he ploughed over the young girl. This
act is morally wrong, and Stevenson uses the simile, 'â€¦like a damned
Juggernaut,' to illustrate this. Hyde probably thought that no one
would see him trample on the girl and unleash his wrath on the girl
and is a clear example of one of the points that Stevenson is
attempting to make in his novella, that everyone has an evil side
somewhere inside themselves.
We get our first sight of the main theme, duality between good and
evil, when Stevenson gives a description of the street that Mr.
Utterson and Richard Enfield are strolling down. The street is
described as 'â€¦thrivingâ€¦' and the shops as having 'â€¦an air of
invitation, like rows of smiling saleswomen.' These descriptions given
by the author immediately lighten the mood and give an impression of
everyone being lively and light-hearted. However, in the next
paragraph the mood completely changes for the worse, and suddenly the
street that 'â€¦instantly caught and pleased the eye of the passenger,'
is spoilt by...