Write an examination of the genre of a mystery story showing your knowledge of literacy tradition and of social and historical context. Reflect to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in your answer
In this essay I’m going to look at different aspects of the genre of mystery, this will include looking at the good and bad, of human nature. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a good example of the mystery genre by Robert Louis Stevenson as it bought whole new aspects to 19th century writing showing the grime and more seedy parts of London, which reflect the main character Mr Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson’s background enabled him to write about his characters professions, which include a scientist, a lawyer and a doctor, he had the freedom to write about a lot, causing much controversy as he abandoned religion as a child. R.L Stevenson was bought up in Edinburgh, which like London has two different sides to it the more seedy parts and the respected, side.
In a mystery story there are certain traits, which can be recognised such as detectives, villains, clues, intrigue and the mystery element such as a murder, or event, like a theft. In this novel Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde the detectives are not professional detectives although they try to solve the mystery of who Mr Hyde is. The clues set out for the reader are presented to mislead and confuse the reader. The intrigue comes from the clues left which leads the reader curious to read on.
In order for the story to develop the author must give clues to keep the readers interest; however the clues that are given can be misleading to the reader. Mr Hyde and Dr Jekyll are never present at the same time this indicates and hints of the possibility of the two characters could be the same person, as well as the fact that on receiving a letter from Dr Jekyll Mr Utterson and Mr Guest had compared letters with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and noticed remarkable similarities in the hand writing, Mr Guest said ‘there’s a rather singular resemblance; the two hands are in many points identical; only differently sloped.
Mr Hyde bustles into a young girl in the early hours of the morning, and without any remorse carries on walking quickly, but a crowd detains him wanting answers, its then that he goes into Dr Jekyll’s house using a key, on return he brings a cheque for ï¿½100 signed by Dr Jekyll, this aroused suspicions as to why Dr Jekyll should pay for this ‘evil’, money to relieve from the angry crowd. This leads Dr Jekyll’s good friend Mr Uttersson to have concerns such as to why Mr Hyde was wearing Dr Jekyll’s clothes.
Later on in the book a very important and revealing part of the story unfolds as a murder takes place. Robert Louis Stevenson uses a different style for this event in the book as the mystery element is not who the murderer is, or who the victim is, the mystery element is the motives of this ‘sinister’ who is not local or well known among the community. The murder took place when Mr Hyde was walking along the street and was seen by a maid looking from a bedroom window.
The victim was a local respected man Sir Danvers, a local MP who upon greeting Mr Hyde was attacked brutally with Mr Hyde’s walking stick with his initials visible, which as it seems was deliberately left after the quite random and unprovoked murder. This is the first real evidence of evil, which leaves the reader wondering why this character was doing such evil when it is almost certain that he will get found out and branded as a murderer. Dr Jekyll’s closest friends start to try and work out his motives for the murder as he has been associated with Dr Jekyll in previous incidents, and as they are not sure about the whereabouts of him they take on the responsibility of finding out themselves.
Another clue to the novel is that Mr Hyde is featured in Dr Jekyll’s will as being the sole inheritor of Dr Jekyll’s money and possessions which leads to the confusion and worry of close friends of Dr Jekyll. Mr Utterson, a close friend of Dr Jekyll who was also a lawyer, was reading an envelope on his desk which said in the case of Dr Jekyll’s death all his possessions and money should go to Mr Hyde, and if Dr Jekyll was absent for longer then three months.
As the book goes on the reader is left with a series of clues, and could be seen as ‘red hearing’ to throw the reader of the trail. The reader then begins to develop a solution. The juxtaposition of the two characters Mr Hyde a seedy man and Dr Jekyll a ‘well respected’ man it is an interesting aspect as to how they know each other, and why they are associated with one another.
At the time that this novel was published it shocked and disturbed readers leaving mixed reactions, this was largely due to the fact no mystery story had ever included such gothic elements into it such as, the setting, which was a seedy area of London in Soho which is notorious for brothels and evil. At the time, multi personality as a psychological disorder was not recognised by doctors, scientists and sociologists but was introduced quite blatantly into this novel. The irony of this was that at the time there was a real life comparison as a man known by the people of the time as ‘Jack The Ripper’, who had a hidden identity, was showing similarities to the novel including the evil side of human nature, and that murder was dealt with as hangings in the 19th centaury. This all had a large impact to the book.
The book Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a good example of good and bad, which is then investigated and explored. Robert Louis Stevenson reflects on the society at the time by showing. The book became so notorious as it was shocking daring and it bought in a new side to writing, which was known as gothic. The book had no justice although we learn that good has to triumph over bad so that everyone can leave in freedom. In good and bad there is mystery, which is why in the traditional idea of this enabled it to work at this time. Evil has been presented as a balance of frightening, and exciting, which kept the reader, hooked throughout. In the book it shows the typical contemporary views of the time, with women being inferior to men, as the only woman is a maid, it showed how there was a divide between upper and lower classes, with examples of either respected well educated well paid men and areas of London which was where the lower less paid working class lived.