The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson as a Work of Horror Fiction
Horror fiction in the 21st century has evolved far from its origins,
to the extent where classic horror novels of the Victorian Era are
considered to be parodies of how people perceive horror today. The
novel 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", which stands
alongside classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein, is a powerful
ethical symbol that suggests the shadowy nature of human personality.
The reading of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to a modern audience would no
longer hold the ability to shock and scare the reader, whereas this
was its main aim at the time of the production. It is therefore
important to consider the ways in which the definition of horror and
how people recognise horror has changed over time. This essay will
establish the ways in which this has happened, and also comment on
aspects of the text which horrified readers of the 19th century in
Firstly, this essay will comment upon the character of Mr Hyde. The
personification of Jekyll's dark, ungratified desires, Hyde creates
havoc and eventually overpowers his 'civilized' alter ego.
In the 19th century, Hyde's appearance and the behaviour he
demonstrates throughout the text would have stunned a 19th century
audience, as the manners he conducts were beyond the acceptable level
of society. Early on in the text, Hyde is described as 'some damned
juggernaut'. This was subsequent to the unpleasant incident in 'Story
of the Door' wherein Hyde commits an appalling crime, witnessed by
another character in the text. In this incident, Hyde intentionally
causes harm to 'a young child, about 8 or 10'.
"I saw that Sawbones turned sick and white, with the desire to kill
This quotation is taken directly from the text, and is voicing the
opinion of the doctor that treated the young child's injuries. The
fact that these thoughts are from a doctor further implies the sheer
evilness communicated from Mr Hyde's presence alone, as this is not
something a doctor would usually think about any human being. It was
the horrifying nature of the crime that would have put these thoughts
into anyone's mind, including those reading in the 19th century.
Maybe, the nickname 'sawbones' might have been used to describe the
hatred that the doctor felt.
"I never saw a circle of such hateful faces, and there was the man
In the middle, with a kind of black, sneering coolness"
In this quotation, the man in the middle is obviously Mr Hyde. The
fact that he is de-limited by hateful faces contributes to the
chapter's general aim, which is evidently focused on establishing a
negative status for Mr Hyde, to be deployed and extended further into
the text at a later stage.
Throughout the text, there is a constant reference to...