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The Way Robert Louis Stevenson Uses Literary Techniques In Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde

1651 words - 7 pages

The Way Robert Louis Stevenson Uses Literary Techniques in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' is a novella that was
written an 1886 and has gone down in history as one of the most famous
works of gothic 'horror' fiction. The term 'Jekyll and Hyde
personality' is used in society today to depict someone with a dual
personality who is a kind of schizophrenic, describing someone who
lives a double life of outward morality and inward iniquity. At the
time when the book was written, Victorian society on the surface was
extremely civilised and was dominated by strict codes of conduct,
polite manners and repressed sexuality. Great social emphasis was
placed on duty and decorum and the book explores the outlook and
manner of the Victorian people, and their 'obsession' with keeping a
highly regarded, highly respected society governed by strict codes of
conduct and polite manners. The importance of the church and marriage
was greatly emphasised, as was the following of the expectancy to
behave morally at all times. The Gothic nature of the book is shown in
Stevenson's vivid descriptions and dark imagery such as 'the most
racking prangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea and a
horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or
death.'

The story was enormously popular with its Victorian audience showing a
fascination with the 'other side ' of life. Stevenson reflects on this
'expectation of respectability' in the text, a lot of the characters
have professions that were seen by society to be significant and
dominating such as a Doctor and a Politician. This shows us that he
was saying to the reader that the upper classes were especially likely
to have a dual personality. The theme of the novella is the hypocrisy
of Victorian values. Stevenson saw that all around England, although
the upper classes gave the appearance of outward respectability
citizens, there were many dark secrets hidden behind a façade of
decency. He hinted at the fact that even the higher classes in society
felt less compelled to uphold the 'rules' expected of them. The
linguistic devices employed by Stevenson create an unusual atmosphere
that surrounds the story. This atmosphere gives a feeling of
controlled suspense that gradually builds up a sense of horror and
destruction. This is achieved through a slow accumulation of dark and
decaying descriptions, beginning with 'sinister block of building'
'marks of prolonged and sordid negligence and 'Tramps slouched into
the recess.'

Although there are many facts relating to the duality of the nature of
the human race, the full extent of this only becomes obvious at the
end of the book for example when Jekyll admits 'I was slowly losing
hold of my original and better self and becoming slowly incorporated
with...

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