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Using chapter 4 from “By this time it was about 9 in the morning… ” to “wait for him at the back to get the handbills… ” and examples from elsewhere in the story. Discuss how Stevenson uses language to create a sense of dread. Gothic novels at this time were generally focused on horror and romance, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is based on the former. Gothicism was a dogma that valued extreme emotion against the clarity and rationalism of the enlightened establishment.
At first glance what makes Stevenson’s novella stand out from other gothic titles is that it is set in London as the gothic scene trend was that of Yugoslavian countryside with large castles, he uses imagined science to create science horror based on drug-induced mutation. At the beginning of the passage “A great chocolate-coloured pall lowered over heaven” giving the city a dark, gloomy presence. “pall” is also used to describe coffin cloth coverings as to possibly imply that London has been covered likewise and that those under it are a sort of living dead.
The smog is so thick that the naked eye is unable to even see the twilight of sunrise “Mr Utterson beheld a marvellous number of degrees and hues of twilight…. and here, for a moment, the fog would be quite broken up, and a haggard shaft of daylight would glance in between the swirling wreaths” this helps create a sense of permanent darkness, a persistent night so that the safety of light is nowhere to be found. For the lawyer Mr. Utterson the city is a realisation of a bad dream “kindled afresh to combat this mournful reinvasion of darkness, seemed, in the lawyer’s eyes, like a district of some city in a nightmare.
” As if for him he is in a nightmare he cannot wake up from. All of his surroundings are having a powerful effect on his own thoughts “The thoughts of his mind, besides, were of the gloomiest dye” as if it had even dyed his thoughts. The fog lifted enough for him to see the establishments within Soho “a dingy street, a gin palace, a low French eating-house, a shop for the retail of penny numbers and two-penny salads, many ragged children huddled in the doorways… many women… to have a morning glass” Which a lawyer such as Mr. Utterson would find this way of life very disturbing.
Although very quickly the fog again consumed this sight as it seemed to with most things. Mr. Utterson finds it horrifying that somebody as respectable as Dr. Jekyll would have such a good friend in an area like Soho, “This was the home of Henry Jekyll’s favourite; of a man who was heir to a quarter of a million sterling”. The first person Mr. Utterson and the inspector approach almost fittingly has an evil look “She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy”. What Mr. Utterson found even more pervading was the stark contrast of his surroundings with the “luxury and good taste” of “Mr Hyde’s” rooms.
Stevenson uses language effectively especially in describing the murder of Sir Danvers Carew to create a sense of dreadful horror “he was trampling his victim under foot, and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway”. For Victorians such a use of language would be even more disturbing than for a modern reader. It is through this profoundly horrific use of language that Stevenson maintains his renowned sense of dread throughout the novella. The great depth of dark imagination used is commendable as there was little material in those times to use as reference.
It is said that Stevenson’s novella and all the imagination he poured into it, could be so powerful it is what inspired Jack the Ripper to conduct the grotesque murders he did. My personal response to the story is that I feel it creates a very concrete image of Victorian London in dark hours and uses excellent description and vocabulary and is a very imaginative story. I found some parts dreadful such as the coincidence of Mr Hyde’s brutal personality and that Dr Jekyll has his own autopsy room and that for these men to be seemingly friends is strange.
It is the best description I have ever read from a story to make an entire “city in a nightmare” and it achieves this very well. With constant reference to the bad visibility and danger of murder makes it a constantly fearful city. Fergus M. Brown 11JME 08 March 2009 Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.