“The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
“The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
“The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” explores the idea that there is evil in all of us. Therefore there are many things which represent both good and evil in the story in this essay I am going to explain how Robert Louis Stevenson achieves this.
Robert Louis Stevenson set this short novella in London in Victorian times. London in Victorian times was full of dramatic inventions, the slow destruction of the rigid class system and the terrible conditions which poor people had to live in. London was covered with a thick layer of smog from what is the industrial revolution, which creates a mysterious aura in which to set such a dark story. London was at extremes, peasants were extremely poor but the rich were extremely well off. The sights and surroundings changed dramatically in different areas it could it would change from elegant, beautiful and expensive buildings to places where dingy dirty houses fill up streets. A large amount of the novella takes place in London at night, which gives the story a backcloth to set the detailed scenes against. To contrast with the strong themes of good and evil.
In the first chapter we are given the description of Mr Uttersons character which shows us that he is the neutral character in the novella but generally a good character.
‘a man of rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile;’I think Stevenson created Mr Utterson as such a ‘cold’ but ‘reliable’ character to help us see the two extremes of the good in Dr Jekyll and the evil in Mr Hyde. Mr Utterson’s jobs shows us a lot about his character he is a lawyer which means he would fight for truth and justice what is what he tries to do throughout the story, which represents good.
Then as the chapter continues we are told the ‘story of the door’ by Mr Enfield who witnessed the incident. Mr Enfield first describes the scene as a ‘black winter morning’. This sets the evil scene for the grim story to come the use of the season ‘winter’ to represent the coldness of the season to reflect the coldness of My Hyde’s actions. Stevenson also describes the scene as:’literally nothing to be seen but lamps.’This tells us that it was very dark which is usually used in most horror stories to represent that something sinister is about to happen.
Then Enfield describes seeing Mr Hyde ‘tramples’ on the young girl. This illustrates the evil in Mr Hyde by showing us he has a complete disregard for human life even a small child’s. This is shown in Mr Hyde’s reaction after injuring the girl. Mr Enfield describes ‘perfectly cool’ which confirms that Mr Hyde sees no remorse for what he had done. Subsequently Mr Enfield describes Mr Hyde’s appearance he says.
‘It wasn’t like a man.’This suggests that he doesn’t have any human qualities. This is because he presumes that human qualities are such as kindness but Mr Hyde shows no good human qualities during the incident. Also Mr Enfield describes Mr Hyde as being ‘deformed’ in some way. Mr Hyde’s clearly displeasing exterior represents the evil within.
‘Something displeasing, something downright detestable.’This chapter is the first appearance and mention of the door. Which we find out later is the Door to Mr Hyde’s flat and round the corner is Dr Jekyll’s door to his house. The two doors are very different Mr Hyde’s door is dingy and dilapidated this represents the evils within the door. And Dr Jekyll’s front door is elegant and pleasing to the eye which represents the good inside.
Mr Utterson worries about the contents of Dr Jekyll’s will worrying that Dr Jekyll s being black mailed by My Hyde. The act of black mail obviously is evil which adds to the conclusion that Mr Hyde has an evil nature. Also Mr Utterson has a nightmare about Mr Hyde when he trampled on the girl. This shows us that the incident was evil and horrifying enough to become a nightmare. Furthermore the Mr Uttersons concern for his friend Dr Jekyll shows that Mr Utterson is caring also it shows that Dr Jekyll is a good enough friend to worry about.
In this chapter Mr Utterson visits Mr Lanyon who was an old friend and colleague of Dr Jekyll’s. At the visit we learn that Mr Lanyon had fallen out with Dr Jekyll due difference in there scientific differences. This is one of the first indications we get that Dr Jekyll is doing unethical scientific experiments which have clearly disturbed Mr Lanyon. Mr Lanyon also denies all knowledge of Mr Hyde. Then Mr Utterson goes and tries to speak with Mr Hyde on meeting Mr Hyde Stevenson uses Hyde’s voice to represent the evil inside. Stevenson often throughout the novella uses a number of animalistic images which are considered to be unpleasant when describing Mr Hyde. For example:’Shrank back with a hissing intake of breath.’This is undoubtedly a comparison to a snake which to the readers are evil or unpleasant. This also helps to represent the main theme of the story which is ‘the beast in man’.
In this chapter it is made known that that compared to other people of the time period and class Mr Hyde speaks differently. Mr Hyde cuts out the pleasantries when talking to people. He asks disturbingly direct questions.
‘How do they know me?’ ‘What shall it be?’This gives you the idea that he doesn’t feel the need to be pleasant with people representing the fact that he is socially inept.
The later on in this chapter once again we have a description of Mr Hyde this time given by MrUtterson. He also finds him frightfully deformed also.
‘He gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation.’Mr Hyde’s deformities are to represent the evil inside by using his ugliness to represent how unacceptable evil and ugliness are. Mr Utterson also feels sorry for Mr Hyde which represents the good in Mr Utterson. Although Hyde has an evil nature yet Mr Utterson still has the capacity to feel sorry for the way Mr Hyde looks. This shows that Mr Utterson is a very accepting person showing his good nature.
We finally encounter Dr Jekyll in the third chapter who is described as;’a large, well made, smooth faced man of fifty, something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness’The phrase ‘smooth faced’ gives the reader the idea that Dr Jekyll has a pleasant exterior. In comparison to Mr Hyde’s unpleasant appearance is shows the reader that Dr Jekyll’s good appearance represents the good inside of him. It says that Dr Jekyll has ‘kindness’ in his description this compared to Mr Hyde who clearly is not kind shown from his actions.
The fact that Dr Jekyll holds dinner parties shows he is very sociable. This also represents the good in him. In addition the atmosphere in Dr Jekyll’s house sounds warm and cosy. Due to Mr Utterson and Dr Jekyll ‘sat either side of the fire’. This sets a warm and welcoming atmosphere representing good people in the setting.
In the chapter ‘The Carew Murder Case’ Stevenson sets a very dismal scene.
‘a fog rolled over the city in the small hours’The fog illustrates a very gloomy scene due to the fog being very thick in the Victorian times. This is a very good use of the weather to represent more sinister picture as the story grows darker. Also as it is set in the early hours of the morning it would still be very dark. The weather and the time of day clearly mirrors the event that’s about to happen it sets a dark and gloomy scene for a murder which is quite fitting. The maid describes Sir Danvers Carew as a ‘beautiful gentlemen’ and uses other adjectives such as ‘pretty’ and ‘politeness’ to emphasize the good in him to contrast with Mr Hyde’s ugly exterior and evil interior.
Then the maid describes the incident in which Sir Danvers Carew is murdered by Mr Hyde. Mr Hyde is described as trampling on Carew in ‘an ape like fury’. This once again gives us an animalistic metaphor which shows that Mr Hyde is like an animal, is out of control, has a lack of conscience and because of all these factors is evil. This is the turning point in the novella which shows Mr Hyde isn’t just unkind with the young girl who he trampled on but he is really evil enough to murder someone. Also the way he killed him is very brutal with a ‘heavy’ cane. This represents pure evil.
Then the inspector and Mr Utterson go to Mr Hyde’s apartment in Soho. The setting of this meeting which is in Soho is well known to be a distasteful area. Stevenson illustrates the setting very well by picking out the socially unacceptable in a Victorian setting. Such as;’many ragged children huddled in the doorways’This tells us that is a very poor area. Also the ‘dingy’ street which Hyde lives on reflects Hyde’s evil character.
We have a first view of Jekyll’s laboratory which is dark and lit by lamps. Also Stevenson uses the personification of the fog to make the fog seem more life like and sound heavier.
‘the fog began to lie thickly;’Good is represented when the description of the ‘new’ Jekyll is described as doing ‘charity work’ and it is said that he is now a ‘church goer’. This gives the reader the impression that something in Dr Jekyll’s life has dramatically changed to make him change in such a good way.
The weather is stormy as Poole tells Uttersons of the strange goings on in Jekyll’s house. The storm is there to reflect the outburst and explanation of what been happening and the outburst of the weather. Also the storm is very violent and so is the explanation. Also in this chapter Poole is very introvert.
‘he had not once looked the lawyer in the face.’This could be because he has done something he is ashamed of and feels he can’t look at Mr Utterson due to him being a lawyer. Poole may be afraid of the look that Mr Utterson gives him back. Poole acts as if he has been infected by the evil which Mr Hyde omits. He describes how he doesn’t think he can ‘bare it no more’.
The use of another door in this chapter (the door to the laboratory) is used to present more secrecy. Also fear of things that should be hidden, these are usually evil or unpleasant. In the Victorian period anything socially unacceptable were hidden away this is shown in Mr Hyde hiding behind the door so that the evil in him is not shown like the evil in Victorian higher class men were not shown.
Poole also describes that the last time he heard Jekyll cry out he ‘cried out in the name of God’ this is attention-grabbing as God is clearly the highest level of good there is and it is Dr Jekyll’s last words were that of God. This supports the idea that Dr Jekyll is all good.
Then we observe the breaking down of the door which represents the down fall of the secrecy in which the evil in Hyde is hidden behind. But as we finally see Mr Hyde for what he really is.
Then we discover about Dr Jekyll’s latest work, the use of Hyde to out let his evil side. He discusses his work with pride but also hatred he can not bare the extremities that Mr Hyde went to. In lanyon’s narrative he portrays how Dr Jekyll has to go through great indescribable pain to transform into Mr Hyde which gives us the idea of emotional pain being represented as physical pain. Dr Jekyll kills himself to end the constant struggle within him between good and evil.
To conclude in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde the author uses imaginative language, characters and settings to represents good and evil excellently. He uses the two main characters to represent good and evil at its extremes and uses the surrounding characters to show the equal amount of good and evil in average people. He uses the actions of characters and there personalities and morals to present to complexity of the human emotion.
The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson