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The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

960 words - 4 pages

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 "hellishbut 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.

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 the
hands of all men would be raised to take and slay him". As Stevenson
added a new dimension to Gothic literature he reinforced his story
with another genre, the detective novel. From the outset of the book
we are introduced to several classic elements of the genre. The
solitary narrator that is Utterson who takes the role of the
detective, and then this mysterious house with its peculiar entry, "Did
you ever remark that door?", which is followed by the entry of the
classic gothic figure, a sinister "Juggernaut" who immediately invokes
a disgust in all whom he meets, "I saw that...

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