How does Stevenson describe Edward Hyde and what are the effects for the reader? Essay
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Stevenson’s consistency in this book is non-existent. In fact, it is constantly inconsistent.
The character Hyde is never fully described in the book of “The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, but the details Stevenson give about Hyde are repeated frequently. The most obvious feature that the reader would like to hear about is Hyde’s face. Stevenson on many occasions disappoints the reader by giving a close focus but never completing it. Bring the reader close, and then ripping it from them.
Although the face of Hyde is always kept hidden from us, the stature is not. In the first paragraph of the book, Hyde is described by Enfield as, ‘Some damned Juggernaut’. He is also told to have ‘trampled calmly’. This is odd, as it is contradicting itself. This may have been a ploy by the author to confuse the reader. Stevenson wants to leave the imagination of the reader to wild, to let the reader think for himself. Another example of contradiction in the book is how Hyde is described as both small and as a Juggernaut. Hyde is also described as ‘displeasing, something downright detestable’, ‘He must be deformed somewhere’.
On several occasions Hyde is described as being animal/ non-human being like. ‘This was more of a dwarf’, ‘ that masked thing like a monkey jumped’, ‘cry out like a rat’, ‘like some damned Juggernaut’, ‘really like Satan’. This could be Stevenson’s way of telling us that Hyde is not human but purely evil. Trying to hint to us, the reader, something. This obscure appearance makes other people in the book have an immediate hate for Hyde. The doctor who was tending to the girl Hyde had trampled over, whenever he looked at Hyde, wanted to kill him. The doctor had been nicknamed ‘sawbones’ for being so unemotional. The eyes of the family of the girl were filled with hate.
There is also a lot of surprise in the book. For example, when Jekyll goes to bed and wakes up finding himself as Hyde, this is the point in the book where we know that he can’t control his transfiguration. He also wakes up with a hairy hand. This is the first time that Hyde is described to us as having a hairy complexion, which also proves the point that Stevenson is constantly surprising the reader with new descriptions.
Another point on the surprise and inconsistency point is the fact that Hyde’s/ Jekyll’s character seems to change quite randomly, like in mid-conversation. Talking to Utterson, at first he is shy, but then rapidly becomes more confident. Also, when Hyde is called back after trampling the girl, he seems to be incredibly calm, although he is surrounded by a bunch of hatful people, who could have quite easily reported him to the police. This personality change portrays the theme of the book of split personalities.