- Created by: Will_Riches
- Created on: 20-05-17 13:16
Jekyll & Hyde - Background
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde is a novel about a man who transforms into different people (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). Although the novel is fictional, it reflects on the strict values of victorian society. It shows a true message about everyone has a good side (Jekyll) and everyone has a bad side (Hyde).
Robert Louis Stevenson was interested in the mans different sides. As a child he was influenced by strict christian beliefs and as he has grown up he has had a passion for Victorian gentlemen and the way they behave.
In Victorian middle and upper classes society, it was the most important to look respectable; as a result of this people tried to hide their true feelings. Repuation was also very important as they didn't want their name to be ruined and looked down upon. To protect their reputation they would do the sinful and less respectable desires in secret.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is an example of this however Mr Hyde becomes too powerful and starts to merge Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde together so that only one would exsist.
Jekyll & Hyde - Characters
Dr Henry Jekyll - A well respected doctor and scientist. He starts to act strangley and stops seeing his friends when he secretly experiments with his alter ego.
Mr Edward Hyde - The evil side of Jekyll. He is a violent and merciless character who makes people feel uneasy and disgusted.
Mr Gabriel Utterson - A lawyer and Jekyll's friend. He is very rational and sets out to solve the mystery of Jekyll's odd behaviour.
Dr Hastie Lanyon - He is also a doctor and used to be close friends with Jekyll, but they fell out over Jekyll's controversial scientific ideas.
Mr Richard Enfield - Utterson's relative and friend. They enjoy spending time together, even though they have nothing in common.
Poole - Jekyll's butler, almost been working for him for 20 years. He is very concerned of Jekyll's strange behaviour.
Sir Danvers Carew - An elderly gentleman who gets murdered by Hyde
Jekyll & Hyde - Themes
Reputation - Victorian society expected gentlemen to have a good repuation, In the novel Utterson is more concerned about Jekyll's name than health - "If it came to a trial, your name might appear", this is soon after Carew's death when being taken to court about Hyde. Jekyll is the most concerned about his reputation thats why he creates Mr Hyde so he isn't affected.
Dual nature of man - Jekyll believes that there are two sides to every individual, the two sides can be seen as sinful and virtuous, Jekyll creates Hyde so he can be free of his sins but Hyde is the devil. The two sides can also be seen as civilised and uncivilised. Hyde isn't just the sinful side he is also the uncivilised side as he disrupts the ordered, civilised world that Jekyll and him live in. Stevenson uses the dual nature of man to comment on society, he critisises the respectable society and he suggests that the gap between apperance and reality in Victorian London is hypocritical. Jekyll is see respectable until he puts on the "Thick cloak" of Hyde.
Jekyll & Hyde - Themes
Science and Religon - The characters are interested in science and religon, especially Jekyll and Lanyon who are both scientists however they are both different as Lanyon keep science and religon seperate whereas Jekyll combines them together and often calls on god to help him. Religon is also a social issue as well as a personal one, Christianity teaches everyone is sinful however Hyde is the complete oposite and is described as "the spirit of hell" this is the complete opposite of Jekyll who is a "Secret sinner". Science is sometimes portrayed as unsettling, the transformation of Hyde to Jekyll is hideous, Lanyon describes it as "a horror of the spirit". Science is also shown to be powerful as it causes the death and destruction, it shows how powerful it can be when used to upset the conventional order of Victorian life.
Secrecy - There are lots of secrets in the novel, the main one of course is that Jekyll and Hyde are the same however Utterson has done "many ill things" in his past but he doesn't say what they are and make his actions seem shameful. Many things are left unsaid, the gentlemen characters often decide not to speak about unpleasant so they pretend they're not happening for example Utterson and Enfield agree to never talk about Hyde. Stevenson uses locked doors as symbols, there are lots of closed doors and windows in the novel.
Jekyll & Hyde - Practice questions
1. How does Stevenson suggest that repuations cannot be trusted?
2. Which character in the novel do you think is most concerned about repuation?
3. To what extent is Jekyll's experiment successful?
4. Explain the differences between Lanyon's attitude and Jekyll's attitude to science?
5. Briefly explain why religon and science were in conflict in victorian times?
6. How does Stevenson present the gentlemen in the novel's attitude to secrecy?
Jekyll & Hyde - Analysis
Structure - the structure builds suspense, most of the story is in third person which follows Utterson, the narative is very limited - Utterson finds out gradually and only learns the truth at the very end. This distances the reader from the truth, creating tension and intrigue.
Narative - Embedded narratives make the story more authentic, these can include 'written documents' and 'testimonies'. These naratives are pieces of evidence in the case, by including them it makes the story more realistic which in turns makes it more frightening.
Setting - The novel's setting are mostly dark and foggy, Stevenson ephasises the darkness, the less respectable areas of London are associated more with darkness. Stevenson also repeatedly mentions the fog, its so dense that it covers the whole streets, making them places for secrecy. Stevenson overall presents London as a threating place.
Language - The gentlemen's dialogue reflects their anxieties, Poole's dialogue reflects his lower social class, Hyde's dialouge is uncivilised like him. The language in the main narrative is mostly formal but is also very descriptive, Stevenson uses double meaning to create secrecy e.g "As if he never exisited".
Jekyll & Hyde - Quotes
“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm. ”
“If he be Mr. Hyde" he had thought, "I shall be Mr. Seek.”
“It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it. ”
“You must suffer me to go my own dark way.”
“There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul.”
“All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.”
“She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy; but her manners were excellent.”