Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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  • Created on: 01-09-13 16:35


Scottish writer born in 1850.  His famous works were Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He was ill throughout his life.  Published Treasure Island then Kidnapped.  Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was also published in the same year and was a huge success - sold 40,000 copies in 6 months.  By the 1880s Stevenson was a leading author.  However he developed tuberculosis and and died suddenly at the age of 44.

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On their weekly walk, a lawyer named Mr Utterson is told by his friend Mr Enfield about a strange assault he has witnessed. A man named Mr Hyde trample a young girl in the street before he continued to walk off without seeing if the girl was ok. Mr Hyde went into a door on the street and reappeared with a check. Utterson recognises the name Mr Hyde from the will of one his close friends, Dr. Jekyll. 

Confused, the lawyer visits his and Dr Jekyll’s friend, Dr Lanyon, but he has not since much of Jekyll due to an argument they had. Utterson decides to visit the building that Mr Enfield told him Mr Hyde had disappeared into and finds that it is Jekyll’s laboratory. He eventually meets with Jekyll and is told by him to think no more about Mr Hyde. 

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A year later a servant girl witnesses Hyde brutally kill a member of Parliament and one of Utterson’s clients in the street. The police contact Utterson about Mr Hyde, however they find that he has already fled the town. 

Utterson decides to visits Jekyll once again, and is told by Jekyll that he has ended all relations with Mr Hyde. He shows Utterson a note from Mr Hyde, but Utterson’s clerk points out the similarity between Jekyll and Hyde’s handwriting. 

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Jekyll begins to acts socially again after Hyde leaves, but he suddenly begins to refuse visitors. Lanyon becomes frail and then dies from some kind of shock. Before his death, however, Lanyon gives Utterson a letter that he is not to open until after Jekyll’s death. 

Utterson is then visited by Mr Poole, Jekyll’s butler and is told that Jekyll has locked himself in his laboratory for several weeks, and the voice that comes from the room sounds nothing like the doctor’s. Utterson and Poole decide to break into the laboratory. Inside, they find the body of Hyde, wearing Jekyll’s clothes and apparently dead by suicide—and a letter from Jekyll to Utterson.

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Utterson then reads Lanyon’s letter which reveals his deterioration was caused by the shock of seeing Mr Hyde take a potion and transform into Dr Jekyll. 

Jekyll’s letter then explains how he managed separate his good side from his dark side and found a way to transform into the dark side, which was Mr Hyde. At first, Jekyll enjoyed becoming Hyde but eventually he found that he was sometimes turning into Hyde when he fell asleep without the potion. He then decided never turn into Mr Hyde again, however one night, the urge overtook him and he killed a man in the street. Again, he tried to stop transforming but one day he turned into Mr Hyde without even falling asleep first. 

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Hyde then contacted Lanyon and asked for his help to get his potions so he could become Jekyll again, without telling him the real reason  why. However, when he transformed in from of Layton, the shock eventually caused his death. 

Jekyll found that he was beginning to change back into Hyde frequently again so he locked himself in his laboratory. Eventually, the potion began to run out, and Jekyll  began to lose the ability to change back from Hyde. 

Jekyll finished his letter by telling Utterson that he knows he will permanently become Hyde and that with the end of the letter comes the end of Dr Jekyll. With these last words, both the document and the novel come to a close.

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“Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness, and he spoke with a husky, whispering and somewhat broken voice; all these were points against him, but not all of these together could explain the hitherto unknown disgust, loathing, and fear with which Mr Utterson regarded him. “There must be something else,” said the perplexed gentleman. “There is something more, if I could find a name for it. God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic, shall we say? Or can it be the old story of Dr Fell? Or is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent? The last, I think; for, O my poor old Harry Jekyll, if ever I read Satan’s signature upon a face, it is on that of your new friend.”

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Stevenson uses a variety of different language features throughout Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. For example, his use of symbolism. Throughout the novel, the characters are shown to be in various areas of London. However, the area they in are seems to correlate to the type of people who live there. For example, Mr Hyde lives in dark and dingy Soho. Stevenson also uses personification in his work, for example when Mr Utterson is thinking about Mr Hyde being a murderer, his blood is described as ‘running’ cold in his veins. Another feature used is metaphors, for example, Hyde is described as breaking out in ‘a great flame of anger’ when he attacks the Member of Parliament.

 In the novel, there are different narrative structures used by Stevenson as there are three different perspectives shown in the novel; Mr Utterson, Dr Layton and Dr Jekyll. Mr Utterson’s narrative is also in the third person, whereas Dr Layton and Dr Jekyll’s are in the first person due to the fact these chapters are set out as letters. 

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The novel addresses some AS themes such as evolving attitudes towards science and religion. At the time of publishing, many people were torn between science and a belief in the supernatural and religion. In the novel, Dr Jekyll covers up his supernatural transformation by using science as an excuse. Dr Layton, however, believes in the more traditional use of science and therefore this was the cause of the pair’s disagreement. Mr Hyde is also compared to Satan on several occasions. 

The novel also shows the position women had in Victorian society as all the female characters in the book are portrayed as being weak, and there are no major female roles. For example, the young girl that Mr Hyde tramples on is frightened and defenceless against him and the servant girl that witnesses Hyde murdering faints after she sees it.

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