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How far is "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson just a horror story?

Categories Character, Novels

Essay, Pages 8 (1805 words)

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Essay, Pages 8 (1805 words)

The story was written by Robert Louis Stevenson and was first published in 1886. The story originated from a dream he had and upon wakening, immediately wrote it down. The story is set in Victorian London and the focus of the tale is whether evil is more powerful than good. The Victorians were obsessed with the supernatural and light triumphant over dark, good over evil. The main character is a doctor of science whose experiments are dangerous and who tampers with human life.

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Otherwise he leads a normal life and has friends and other acquaintances. Those nearest to him however suspect an evil deed including murder and are afraid he is involved. The truths are revealed at the end of the story.

The story starts with ordinary Victorian life, of two businessmen out for a walk having a conversation. From normal everyday living the story leads into murders and then finally the death of Dr. Jekyll. The story slowly builds a picture of their lives and their doubts as the story progresses about something evil at work.

No one can understand what is happening and why there is a connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde until Dr. Jekyll reveals the true story at the end of the book to Dr. Lanyon.

Mr. Hyde was difficult to describe, Mr. Enfield describes him as `deformed and extraordinary looking, but cannot be described`. After the death of Sir Danvers Carew, the maid said he `was particularly small and wicked looking`. This crime of murder was described `with singular ferocity` – Carew was clubbed by a cane and then trampled underfoot by Mr.

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Hyde under which his victim’s bones were shattered. The victim still kept his purse and gold watch suggesting he was not murdered for money.

Robert Louis Stevenson said that Mr. Hyde was `deformed and extraordinary looking, but cannot be described`. Extraordinary means going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary; specifically : of, relating to, or having the nature of a proceeding or action not normally required by law or not prescribed for the regular administration of law -compare ORDINARY of or relating to a financial transaction that is not expected to be repeated. The word `deformed` is to spoil the natural form of; misshape: a body that had been deformed by disease or to spoil the beauty or appearance of; disfigure. Describe means to give an account of in speech or writing or to convey an idea or impression of; characterize: She described her childhood as a time of wonder and discovery. So even though Mr. Hyde is being described as deformed and extraordinary he is still indescribable. When you describe something, you use a lot of words and sentences to express it. But the only description of Mr. Hyde using two words; deformed and extraordinary.

Later on in the novel, Mr Hyde was then described as `particularly small and wicked looking` by the maid. She is still describing him, but completely different type of description as Mr. Enfield. I say this because `deformed and extraordinary looking, but cannot be described` can mean many things, it is not making a direct insult to Mr. Hyde. You can interpret and define that description as many deferent things. However the maid’s description of him was `particularly small and wicked looking` which is very specific and rude. I say this because if you are quite a small person you would be described as small and if you were a wicked person you would be described as wicked. So the maid has chosen meaningful and specific words to describe Mr. Hyde. She also says that he is `wicked looking` which might mean that he is not wicked to her knowledge but he looks like a wicked person; she is judging him before she had met him.

Slightly before that Mr. Utterson said `Is this Mr. Hyde a person of small stature`. This whole sentence is taking about Mr. Hyde’s height. I say this because stature means the natural height of a human or animal in an upright position and Mr. Hyde is called a small stature. Many times in the novel people have talked about Mr. Hyde’s height, this is because Mr. Hyde is Dr, Jekyll’s evil side. Dr. Jekyll has never exposed his evil side before. So it’s like a person the same age as Dr. Jekyll but has not had long to develop a normal body. Mr. Hyde after a long time would eventually be a normal figure once again if he was exposed to life for a longer time. The word stature can also mean an achieved level; status. This could be implying that Mr. Hyde’s achieved level is small or nothing which would no be not standard level of anyone else. So if Mr. Hyde’s achieved level is low or small that means that Dr. Jekyll’s achieved level would be the complete opposite and at a above average level.

The description from the crime scene after the murder of Sir Danvers Carew was described `with singular ferocity`. This means that the crime is one of a one person attack that was ferocious. Singular is being only one; individual or being the only one of a kind and Mr. Hyde was. The word ferocity immediately sounds like fear or fierce, it means the state or quality of being ferocious; fierceness. In just two words the whole scene becomes clear who did it and how it was done.

Meanwhile Dr. Jekyll is looking incredibly unwell and fearful. He is acting strangely and appears to know more about Mr. Hyde but is not revealing too much about him. Mr. Utterson walks past Dr. Jekyll’s house and Dr. Jekyll looks out of the window saying he feels low and then disappears with a look of terror and despair. Mr. Poole, Dr. Jekyll’s servant visits Mr. Utterson to tell him of the strange happenings in the house, his master’s disappearance and hearing him cry day and night.

Before Dr. Lanyon died, Mr. Hyde visited him and drank a mixture of tincture and powders. Dr. Lanyon was disbelieving and wanted to see what would happen. Dr. Lanyon was in deep shock seeing Mr. Hyde transform into Dr. Jekyll and was sickened. He could not sleep and `the deadliest terror sits by him day and night`. He felt that he would defiantly die.

In chapter five Mr. Utterson asked Dr. Jekyll for the letter that Sir Danvers Carew had wrote and Dr Jekyll simply said `I burned it, before I thought what I was about. But it bore no postmark. The note was handed in`. This means that because the envelope did not have a stamp on it Dr Jekyll immediately destroyed a very important letter from Sir Danvers Carew. This is saying that Dr. Jekyll is a much of an organised and very hard to fool type of person and something as simple a no stamp on a letter leads the reason to the death of Sir Danvers Carew a more of a mystery than if the letter was read.

Mr Utterson is also very clever and quite like Dr. Jekyll in that trying to fool him is an impossible task. A conversion, for example about two similar letters is spotted by Mr. Utterson, `And by all accounts a very odd writer. Is that from Dr. Jekyll, sir? I thought I knew the writing, anything private, Mr. Utterson? It is only an invitation to dinner, why, do you want to see it? One moment, thank you, sir; it’s a very interesting autograph. Why did you compare them, Guest? Well, sir, there’s a rather singular resemblance; the two hands are in many points identical: only differently sloped`. This is saying that the two styles of handwriting are the same but from completely different people. Mr Utterson being no fool listened to the clerk who was telling him about the two different styles of writing and took it into account.

Dr. Jekyll soon becomes depressed and losses the confidence in himself. I say this because Dr. Jekyll said `I am very low, Utterson, very low. It will not last long, thank God`. Dr. Jekyll knows that the fresh air will do him some good but prefers to lie down indoors. If someone else was ill, like Mr. Utterson, Dr. Jekyll would be saying the same thing that Mr. Utterson was telling Dr. Jekyll. It is interesting the way Dr. Jekyll uses the word `low` rather than ill or sick. The word `low` means to let, bring, or move down to a lower level or to reduce in value, degree, or quality or to weaken; undermine: lower one’s energy or to reduce in standing or respect.

Leading up to chapter eight is a strange unfolding of a monster that has murdered and disappears, no one knows much of him but he is someone connected to Dr. Jekyll. All the characters understand something evil is taking place but they cannot or do not want to connect the evil of Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll. It is not until chapter eight that Dr. Jekyll has to reveal the true horror story. Mr. Utterson does not suspect any foul play but when Mr. Poole tells him because he has noticed some foul play, Mr. Utterson is slightly alarmed. `I think there’s been foul play`. Then Mr. Utterson replies with `Foul play`! What foul play? What does the man mean`? Then Mr. Poole says `I daren’t say, sir but will you come along with me and see for yourself`.

The idea of a scientist experimenting with such dangerous drugs is bizarre. In the modern day century drugs would not be used on humans unless they had undergone vigorous testing. Who would endanger life in the 19th century by using such experiments? Over a hundred years ago illness and death would occur by taking untested drugs.

London is described in Victorian horror stories as nearly always fog bound, which it was through pollution. Sinister blocks of buildings, black winter mornings, London hummed solemnly, all descriptions of poorly hit London, which was very creepy and spooky.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not a terrifying horror story but merely stating the facts of a scientist’s experiment that becomes dangerous. Until the killing of Sir Danvers, Mr. Hyde was just described as many evil things by the way he looked and behaved, not by his actions as no one had proof he was evil.

The morality of the tale is that the Victorian’s belief of good and evil does not always triumph and that practising un-harmful scientific experiments can result in playing God and are best left alone. Dr. Jekyll was forced to lead a double life hiding himself away with his experiments as he would not have been accepted in Victorian society as a scientist with such evil ideas.

Cite this essay

How far is “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson just a horror story?. (2017, Nov 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/how-far-is-the-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-by-robert-louis-stevenson-just-a-horror-story-essay

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