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The Representation Of Evil In Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

1724 words - 7 pages

The Representation of Evil in Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This essay will show how evil is represented in Robert Louis
Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'. 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is
about evil and the duality of people's personalities. To show this I
will focus on Stevenson's use of characterization, setting,
historical, social and cultural context, settings, symbols and
language.

Robert Stevenson lived in the Victorian era, this was a very
repressive and strict society where it was expected that middle class
men would visit prostitutes. This was because people were not supposed
to be like animals and have animal instincts such as lust. This meant
that middle class men would only sleep with their wives so they could
have children and carry on the bloodline. This society would have
influenced Stevenson as he was a middle class man himself and he would
have experienced his own stifled emotions and hidden instincts, such
as lust and rage. Stevenson may also have taken inspiration for the
character Mr. Hyde from the crimes of Jack the Ripper who was
committing his violent crimes on women at that time. Stevenson may
have also been influenced by Mary Shelly's 'Frankenstein', which also
deals with the themes of dual personalities and evil.

In the text Stevenson uses a lot of powerful imagery when describing
Mr. Hyde. He uses words such as detestable and deformed. These words
create a picture in the readers mind and give them a general feeling
of horror, evil and mistrust. Through out the play Stevenson refers to
Mr. Hyde as an animal "God bless me the man seems hardly human". This
makes the reader picture Mr. Hyde as something without a conscience as
animals don't have consciences or morals. This helps to add to the
portrayal of evil in the text. The use of the word God is also very
significant as at that time people were very religious and believed in
God and The Devil. The way this person is referring to God and then
Mr. Hyde shows that people regarded him to be The Devil or to be at
least possessed by The Devil "I read Satan's signature upon a face…"
This makes the reader believe that Mr. Hyde is evil as are the things
he does.

Stevenson explores evil through Mr. Hyde; he does this by creating an
image of him as an animal or a beast "ape like fury". This also fits
in with the idea that people should suppress their emotions and
instincts and so the only living things that would experience or show
fury are animals.

In the text anyone who meets or sees Mr. Hyde reacts with horror and
repulsion "…unknown disgust, loathing and fear with which Mr. Utterson
regarded him." The language Stevenson uses is very powerful and
emotive. He does not simply put they were scared of Mr. Hyde, he
writes that they were disgusted by him. People are only disgusted by
...

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