When Mr Utterson, a successful London lawyer, peruses the last will of his old friend Dr Jekyll that his suspicions are aroused. What is the relationship between kind- hearted, respectable Dr Jekyll and the evil, murderous Mr Hyde? Who murdered the distinguished MP, Sir Danvers Carew? So begins Stevenson’s spine tingling horror story, the story of Dr Jekyll’s alter- ego, and of a hunt throughout the nocturnal streets of London that culminates in some dreadful revelations.
In this essay I will show the techniques used that make a horror genre so effective. I will also compare and contrast the characters, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
“Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is a Victorian horror novel. We know this because of the old Victorian language that the author, R. L. Stevenson, uses such as “they bowed and accosted the other with a pretty manner of politeness” but if this was to be written in modern day language the author would be trying to say “they met and waved to each other as they walked by in the street”
The story “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is generally about a man, Dr Jekyll, who has an alter ego, or an evil side, Mr Hyde, which is only erupted when he takes a certain potion. Dr Jekyll is a kind, gentle being but also a very small weak man so he takes the potion to make himself feel bigger and stronger, but, each time he takes it Mr Hyde is getting more powerful and causes horrific consequences.
In chapter 4, there is a great deal of evidence of the techniques used in horror genres, like the setting of the quiet, dark, dingy streets which in most horror stories associates with horror, murder, suspicion, monsters, and other deformities in nature.
The weather plays a big part in the story; it affects it by making the atmosphere feel real and blend in with the horror. R. L. Stevenson uses techniques to change the setting and atmosphere into one that suits the story, “it was an early, cloudless night” and a “brilliantly lit lane” with a “full moon”, gives the reader the sense of calmness but in other ways it could give the reader the sense of horror as a full moon usually relates to were- wolves in most horror stories.
Stevenson then gives intense action and the action is of course murder, which is very horrific anyway. The maid witnessed the murder from her bedroom window. She described the victim, Sir Danvers Carew, as an “old aged beautiful gentleman” she did not recognise him but he seemed to have “an innocent and old- world kindness of disposition” He came across a small man who the maid recognised as Mr Hyde. Sir Danvers bowed politely to Mr Hyde but without replying, Mr Hyde “broke out into a great flame of anger” Carew’s bones were “audibly shattered” The body was “jumped upon the roadway” until it became “mangled” The murder weapon was a stick made of “very tough and heavy wood” which broke “under the stress of his insensate cruelty”
This may be the most intense part of the book as well as Stevenson using language devices to show a great contrast of description shown between Carew and Hyde, of good and evil, which makes Mr Hyde an evil character of cruelty.
R. L. Stevenson uses a lot of horror imagery to appeal to our senses and describe in quite detail of what the man suffered.
Dr Henry Jekyll’s character is upright, respectable, and kind hearted, whereas, Mr Edward Hyde’s is torturous, evil, terrifying, and to many very, very scary. As you can see the two characters personality is recognisably different.