Devices to Create Suspense

Categories: Fiction

In this extract Stevenson uses many devices to create suspense.

This extract is told in 3rd person, but from the narrative of Utterson. Stevenson has used this technique to heighten suspense as this creates distance between the reader and the character. The reader is left in the dark and finds things out gradually as Utterson does. This allows the reader to see more clearly into Utterson's character and his opinion on Hyde. Stevenson uses these descriptions to appeal to the reader's senses, so they feel as though they are watching Utterson's dream unfold.

Furthermore, a threatening atmosphere is created with the setting of this extract; at night, in the dark. Tension is created through the repetition of 'darkness' because this highlights his isolation and the lack of light implies a lack of vision and therefore, to an extent, clarity. This produces suspense as the reader will be intrigued in Utterson's dream and the audience would be eager to find out more about the mysterious character of Hyde.

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This shows how Stevenson created suspense in this extract.

Suspense is also created in chapter one of this novel. The title of the chapter, 'The Story of the Door' adds mystery as it is part of a dilapidated house on a pleasant street. The reason why Stevenson has portrayed the door as mysterious is that it becomes a significant symbol for secrecy, and it generates fear into the intended audience. In the Victorian Era, many people bore a fear of the unknown therefore, they are suspenseful and wish to know what is behind the door.

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Stevenson builds on this fear by adding that the door can only be opened with a key, and the windows are always shut which increases their curiosity.

Stevenson creates suspense when he tells the audience about the actions of Hyde in Utterson's dream. Hyde is introduced into this chapter whilst committing a horrific act as he 'trod the child down' and wasn't disturbed by this because he is written to have 'passed on regardless of her screams'. However, we know that despite not physically seeing this happen, Utterson is has a strong reaction to it as he 'tossed to and fro' which creates suspense as the reader knows that something bad is going to happen. Moreover, this illustrates the difference between Utterson, an ordinary Victorian man, and Hyde, who is represented with animalistic characteristics. The technique Stevenson uses is emotive language which causes the reader to have sympathy for the young girl, and disgust in Hyde.

In this extract secrecy is an important theme; the identity of the figure is not revealed until the end.

Stevenson used the contemporary setting of Victorian London to write his gothic horror novel. The streets with the gas lamps were the perfect setting following the true horrific stories of Jack the Ripper. He refers to Mr Hyde well as he wanders the streets of London not knowing who he's going to meet. The elements in gothic horror include irony, movement, time, senses, horrific.

More clues are revealed to everyone over the book for example, Dr Lanyon's letter tells people some shocking facts about Dr Jekyll and that is when people start to suspect things. At the end of the book, Dr Jekyll retells the whole story in a narrative style which explains everything about Jekyll and Hyde and that Jekyll would kill himself after he wrote the letter. That is when the book ends. This shows how suspense is built up.

Stevenson sets the scene and creates the mood in the book, from the very beginning; he does this by using the devices of gothic horror. He uses zoom lens a lot in the third to last chapter.

'The last night'; it goes into heavy detail about the Laboratory and the surroundings of it. 'The candle was set upon the nearest table' creates a picture in the readers mind about all the visual aids in the area. He describes it so well; you could almost go into the Laboratory and navigate yourself around it with great ease. This shows how suspense is built up.

'That evening' refers to time phrases. I think is what makes the book so well and so popular. This also makes the book flow so well, so the reader can understand the book well enough to keep reading without getting lost.

To conclude, all of the devices that Stevenson has used to create suspense have a strong impact upon this extract because he wanted to keep the readers in suspense for as long as possible and he left a series of clues to make them discover that the man was Mr Hyde for themselves.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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Devices to Create Suspense. (2019, Dec 04). Retrieved from

Devices to Create Suspense essay
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