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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a dark mysterious novel. Robert Louis Stevenson sets the strange case during the Victorian period in London. The main theme of the novel is evil. William Golding also uses the theme of evil in the book Lord of the Flies. Golding set his novel on an island during World War Two.
I would like to use these two novels to compare and contrast the representation of evil in what ways the authors express the theme of evil.
John Lewis Stevenson was born on November 13th 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland at a time when society’s differences were very dissimilar. Edinburgh and London alike had social areas where brothels and shadiness flourished. In contrast there were areas of the middle high society where respectability, politeness and the ever presence of the faithful, righteous churchgoers.
During his childhood he suffered very ill health and was looked after by a nurse who sparked off his interest in literature by reading books to him, such as Pilgrims Progress and the Old Testament. Later as a student he read horror novels such as Frankenstein written by Mary Shelly and Origins of the Species by Charles Darwin.
He was romantic and well travelled, visiting France, Switzerland and California. In 1867 he enrolled at Edinburgh University to study engineering, but abandoned this in its early stages to the disappointment of his father, a qualified engineer himself.
Stevenson then took up law, following in the footsteps of his mothers family. He passed his exams but never practised as a lawyer deciding to write short stories for crime magazines instead.
William Gerald Golding was born in September of 1911 in the city of Cornwall, England. He attended both the prestigious colleges of Marlboro and Oxford, studying both natural science and English. Golding eventually decided to devote his career to literature. As World War II came, Golding was compelled to join the Navy. His war experience may have altered his opinions of man. His book shows that even in young boys aggressive behaviour is displayed. Golding had a good understanding of the way boys interact with each other, competitive and fighting for the admiration of others.
Lord of the Flies is a novel about a group of boys who have crash landed on an island where there are no adults. The boys had to look after themselves until they were rescued. To some boys this was seen as a great opportunity to have fun but for others it was to be a disaster.
One of the boys with the most power on the island is Jack. He is about twelve years old with a skinny build and red hair. He arrived on the island as the leader of the choir. From the beginning he wanted to be the one in control. All the other boys seemed to listen to him. He is very confident and always told the boys what they wanted to hear. A dictator like Hitler who also had the skill to make people listen. During the German depression there were many people out of work and on the bread line, Hitler’s strength and powerful voice spoke the words the Germans wanted to hear.
Jack was not so bothered about getting rescued but to have fun. He wanted to hunt and kill for food as he thinks killing is a game. He also spoke down to many of the boys, especially Piggy in who he is very malicious towards.
Roger, who was mostly with Jack, was a small boy with dirty black hair. Golding describes him as ‘unsocial with a gloomy face spiteful in his own ways’. For example (pages 66-67) ‘Roger stooped, picked up a stone, aimed and threw it at Henry – threw it to miss’. ‘Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them’, in this case the small boy, Henry, thought of the stone throwing as fun and games. Towards the end of the novel Roger was the one who was the most evil and wicked. Golding describes in great detail of how grotesque and uncivilised the boys murdered the pig (page 149) ‘Roger found lodgement for his point and began to push until he was leaning with his whole weight. Both these characters are represented as evil from onset in this novel.
Stevenson uses Mr Hyde to convey the evil in his novel. This is the small man who commits the monstrous acts of brutality and murder throughout the story. Mr Hyde is created when Dr Jekyll drinks a special potion, subsequently turning himself into this other creature. Mr Hyde is hated by everyone he meets, even at first glance. Although they cannot name it, those around him sense something profoundly evil about his character.
Mr Hyde is not a separate person but merely a projection of Jekyll. This means that Jekyll becomes evil as he cannot admit that he is Hyde. Hyde is the representation of evil in man, he symbolises that there is evil in any decent man.
Stevenson describes, from Mr Enfield’s point of view, that Mr Hyde ‘had the face of a man who was without bowels of mercy’ and having ‘ a spirit of enduring hatred’. He also spoke ‘hissing as he took breath’.
He is described as ‘pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without nameable malformation’.
In the first chapter, Mr Enfield saw a disfigured man, which he called a ‘Juggernaut’, trample an eight year old girl. Making a child the first victim of Hyde’s cruelty emphasizes the moral awfulness of his behaviour from the beginning. The brutality of the trampling of the child was shocking. Stevenson’s use of words to describe the event are very effective. ‘The man trampled calmly over the child’s body’. This indicates the true evil in Mr Hyde, as the use of the word ‘calmly’ indicates how naturally evil the man is. As if he marched over the girls body without any remorse or feeling what so ever.
It could be that Hyde symbolises evil in the novel Jekyll and Hyde, though he is only a creation. Hyde is just a mere projection of Jekyll’s curiosity. Dr Jekyll creates a medicine which transforms him into Hyde, the medicine is a symbol of evil. Jekyll is described as a good man and a respected man also, so for him to create such evil is like an act of hypocrisy.
The symbols of evil in Lord of the Flies are similar to Jekyll and Hyde in that evil can be seen through the characters. Roger is a good example of evil, this can be seen in chapter eleven, castle rock. Roger is the boy who slams the lever holding the boulder and it goes careening down to kill piggy.
The pigs head that Simon had experienced whilst having an epileptic fit is an important symbol in the novel. Simon represents a Christ figure, for him to see the symbol of the devil (the lord of the flies) show the contrast between the good and the evil.
The different leaders also have significance in the novel, for they show the different ways of living. Jack could be the fascists or communist (Hitler or Stalin) and Ralph could represent the socialist (Churchill).
Hyde’s speech gives off a sense of evil as he gives short and quick answers. In chapter two where the lawyer gets to talk face to face with the hideous Hyde, they have an important conversation. Hyde gives the impression that he is not the sociably type as his speech is short and impolite.
‘He answered coolly enough: ‘That is my name. What do you want?’
Jekyll’s speech also changed throughout the novel, as under pressure some of the time. So many questions were asked as to whom the mysterious man was who he had placed so much trust in. For example, at one of Jekyll’s ‘fine dinners’ (in the beginning of chapter three) where Utterson attempts to question Jekyll about his friend Mr Hyde. After Utterson mentions Hyde, that he had been learning a few things about him, Jekyll’s face ‘grew pale to the very lips and there came some blackness about his eyes’. This suggests that you can see Hyde in Jekyll even though he has not been transformed, it show evil about him.
‘I do not care to hear more,’ said he. ‘This is a matter I thought we had agreed to drop.’
After the description of how Jekylls face changed after the mention of Hyde, you can imagine his speech to be short-tempered or touchy. Then reassuring the lawyer that Hyde was a private matter and he will be rid of him soon, Utterson promised not to mention the matter any further.
Suggest something about stevensons use of words and why he uses them (back of the book)