Themes in Jekyll and Hyde



  • In the 19th century, the idea of God ruling over everything was universally accepted
  • In 1859- Darwins book "On the origin of species" claimed that creatures evolved
  • Later Darwin argued humans descended from anphibians that turned into apes. This challenged religion and presented new ideas, however lots were persuaded by it.
  • In the early 1800's, Christianity taught that God created every species (creationisim)- Darwin's ideas challenged Christian ideas- the book claimed all creatures evolved from common ancestors, which went against the main Christian idea that humans were created by God
  • This idea would have been an unsettling and nightmarish notion for a lot of Victorians- Stevenson aims to horrify the Victorian reader by engineering the themes of the story to evoke deep stated fears
  • Hyde is described as "hardly human...troglodytic"- this presents him as a criminal and shows that he doesn't fit in with the rest of society. This suggests that he is the physical manifestation of a pre-human animal
  • The idea that such an animal could hide behind the facade of a well-respected member of the community would have been a shocking possibility for the Victorian reader as their society was based around external appearences
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Science part 2

  • "A dismal screech, as of mere animal terror, rang from the cabinet"- chapter 8
  • "Snarled aloud into a savage laugh"- chapter 2
  • "Clubbed him to the earth...with ape-like fury"- chapter 4
  • "Satan's signature upon a face"- chapter 2
  • "That ,asled thing like a monkey jumped from among the chemicals"- chapter 8
  • "growl" assoociating Hyde with a viscious animal
  • Stevenson explores ideas of death, destruction and going against God through the theme of science
  • Jekyll's experiments cause destruction and death to the people around him. This shows the potential fo science to destroy the order of society and disrupt rigid Victorian expectations
  • Jekyll's drugs are intrusive objects, "some white salt" and "some strange thing". Vauge language is deliberately used to create ambiguity and mystery around his medicines and evoke anxiet and fear in the reader
  • Victorians thought the earth was created by God and scientists like Darwin contradicted this theory, this challenged the ideologies and views a lot of people had
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Science part 3

  • The idea that science could create life was seen as dangerous and Jekyll's failed experiment leaves him as the "cheif of sinners"- "If I am the cheif of sinners, I am the cheif of sufferers also"
  • By the final chapter, Jekyll is caught in a state of "suffering", there is a "brute that slept" within him and he is "tortured with throes and longings" to turn into Hyde. Language of agony Jekyll uses links to Christian ideas of hell- his selfish motivation for the experiment leaves him trapped in limbo
  • "Shook the very fortress of identity"
  • "boil and smoke...drank off the potion"- compares science to witchcraft
  • "Grinding bones, nausea"- pain of science
  • "Dissolution of the bonds of obligation"- science is giving Jekyll total freedom and getting rid of his obligations
  • "Delighted me like wine"- comparing science to a liberating drug- temporary solution to a long term problem
  • "incredibly sweet", "younger", "lighter", "happier"- tricolon of positive ajectives
  • "Shook the very fortress of identity"
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Man's dual nature

  • Novella depicts the struggle of a man trying to live a good life whilst wrestling with the desires fround upon by his society- Victorians were expected to repress their true feelings and desires in public, which could be a reason why Jekyll thinks he is leading a double life
  • Jekyll is a well-respected gentleman, so he has to keep his sins and desires a well-hidden secret from the rest of society
  • Jekyll's repressive society was likely to convince him that "man is not truly one but truly two"
  • Jekyll is convinced his medical theories are correct and tries to prove it by dividing 2 sides, good and evil
  • Jekyll's struggle with his evil side leads him to create Hyde but this experiment doesn't go to pla because his evil side overrides his good side
  • Stevenson uses language associated with battles and wars to illustrate and allude to internal conflict within Jekyll
  • There is a "perennial war among (his) members" and the 2 sides of nature "contended in the feild" of his psyche like 2 opposing forces on the battleground
  • The fog in chapter 4 is described as "lucrid brown like the light of some strange conflagration."
  • The conflagration in the vapours in the air represents the violent conflict of good and evil
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Man's dual nature part 2

  • Hyde is the sinful side of jekyll, he is there to explore the unbending and civilised world Jekyll lives in
  • Upper- class Victorians thought of themselves as being more highly evolved than the rest of society. They thought that criminals and people who disrupted the social order were less evolved and degenerate beings- some used evolution to support this
  • Stevenson adresses the possibility that every human has an uncivilised, "savage", "ape like" and "mad" side to them- without the excersize of restraint and repression, all that is left is the animal within
  • In chapter 10, Jekyll says "My devil had long been caged, he came out roaring". This shows how the evil creature within him is released in the act of transforming into Hyde and how it provides him with releif
  • Stevenson wanted to show how Victorian society was hypocritical and the void between reality and appearence. He also wanted the reader to question why the characters take pride in their reputation and prioritise appearence over honesty
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Man's dual nature part 3

  • Hyde's evil nature is shown in his appearence and actions- he has a "displeasing smile" and a "satanic face"- characters feel digusted by the fact that he doesn't hide his face. This may have horrified the Victorian reader as they are being confronted by the image of their own sins
  • In chapter 7, Jekyll is described as hiding from other characters and disguising himself from the outside world
  • The transformation of Jekyll is alluded to when Stevenson writes "the smile was struck out of his face and succeeded by an expression of...abject terror."- "abject" shows Jekyll knows his appearence as Hyde will be shocking and unfarmilliar to Utterson and Enfeild
  • "My new power tempted me until I fell into slavery"- juxtaposition of "power" and "slaver" shows duality and creates the idea that the bad side is more powerful than the good
  • "like a thick cloak- similie that describes Jekyll's transformation into Hyde- presents Hyde as a burden Jekyll has to bear on his sholders
  • "I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life"
  • "Mr Hyde was to have full liberty and power about my house in the square"- forshadows Hyde's full control of Jekyll's body
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  • In the beggining of the 19th century, most people in Victorian society believe the world was created by God- Christianity teaches that everyone is sinfull
  • Christianity had a strong influence on many aspects of Victorian England
  • Evangelical christianity teaches that humans are inheritently evil and people need to beg for forgiveness from God. It also teaches that in order to be offered to be offered repentance from God, people need to live by a strict moral code to avoid sinning
  • All the characters demonstrate religious tendancies- Jekyll reads religious texts, Lanyon feels that science and religion should be kept separate, Utterson reads "dry divinites" every night before bed and Hyde blasphemes Jekyll's book
  • Religion permiated (spread throughout) lives of characters 
  • Religion was conventional in Victorian society 
  • Characters have symbolic meanings- Utterson represents evangelicalisim, ideas of focusing on work and not on social life- Jekyll and Hyde symbolise good (the angel) and evil (the devil)
  • The internal struggle between 2 forces alludes to the biblical idea of the eternal struggle of good and evil in humans
  • In the last chapter, Jekyll confesses that his "origional evil" emerged again alluding to the idea of inherent evil in humans
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Religion part 2

  • Jekyll thinks of sin as the "burden of his life" and creates Hyde as an attempt to be rid of this "extraneous evil" that exists within him- the process of purification and ridding himself of sin is unsuccessful in his experiments
  • Stevemson reminds the reader that Jekyll's actions are sinful by using religious language- Jekyll is a "secret sinner" and Hyde is the "spirit of hell"
  • "For any drug that so potently controlled and shook the very fortress of identity, might, by the least scruple of an overdose or at the least in oppourtunity in the moment of exhibition, utterly blot out that immaterial tabernacle which I looked to change"- reference to the israilei tabernachle, which is said to house God
  • Jekyll uses it as a reference to his body/soul and shows how he is willing to use his body for experimentation- In some ways he could be experimenting with God himself
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Religion part 3

  • "Captives at Phillippi"- in 42 BC, Anthony and Octavious released the captives who had supported Julius Ceaser's assasins. This could be associated with the idea that Hyde is unexpectedly freed from his prizon within Jekyll and causes more trouble
  • "This inexplicable incident...seemed like the babylonian finger on the wall, to be spelling out the letters of my judgement"- King Belsazzar was a Chaldean king who didn't bow to the israilie God because he did this, a ghostly hand appeared and wrote out his death sentance on the wall with his finger. The kingdom invaided that night...
  • Jekyll alludes to the biblical scene as it explains his mental state of conflict and how he set himself up against God. It also forshadows Jekyll's death and evokes feelings of doom in the reader.
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Violence and horror

  • In chapter 1, Enfeild reports seeing Hyde trample on an innocent, young girl- Hyde "trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming"
  • The oxymoron "trampled calmly" indicates how Hyde feels no remorse for his crimes and how the act of violence is a habitual event that he fulfills without much thought
  • Hyde commits 2 violent crimes against innocent and helpless people- the young girl and the elderly man
  • Violence in the novella centres on Mr Hyde and raises the question of wether or not violence is an inherent part of man's nature
  • It's shocking how much pleasure Hyde gets from the murder of Carew, he feels "glee" and "delight from every blow" when he attacks Carew
  • Stevenson explores relaptionships between science + violence, dual nature + violence and Victorian fears+ violence
  • The theme of violence ties into theme of science and dual nature- Hyde is the only violent character, acting with "ape-like fury" and feeling "glee" at his brutality
  • In classic gothic novels, the idea of "doubles" or "two" characters existing within one entitiy was common
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Violence and horror part 2

  • Author's let their character personify the unchecked and darker side of the human consciousness. They also let them to commit violent and evil acts
  • Acts of violence in the novella are against innocent people and provoke horror in characters around them. This would have linked to the context of Victoran crimes in London and fear that come invisible force was driving evil into it's citizens 
  • Hyde is described as having "Satan's signature upon a face". This shows how he is an embodiment of evil and how epotimises everything that citizens feard at the time
  • "Great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishung the cane"
  • "like a madman"
  • "Broke out of all bounds"
  • "Clubbed him to the earth"
  • "trampling his victim under foot"
  • "hailing down blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered"
  • "the most racking pangs succeeded: grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death"
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Victorian gentleman

  • The idea of a gentleman was important in Victorian society. Men were expected to repress their desires and avoid egotistical behaviors
  • A man's social class was part of being a gentleman- gentlemen were from the upper class part of society
  • Profession was important- Army officers, church ministers, doctors and lawyers were counted as gentlemen.Some middle-class men, like bankers and successful merchants, also aspired to be gentlemen
  • Gentlemen were expected to have strong morals and be kind, particularly towards poor people however lots saw this as a less important part of being a gentleman
  • Being a gentleman had many benifits. You could enter well-paid professions like medicine and law and gain the respect of rich clients. This was important for their children as a gentleman could use his contacts to arrange marriages for their daughters and well paid jobs for their sons
  • The gentlemanly ideal of repressing one's innermost thoughts causes Utterson to suffer from nightmares
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Victorian gentleman and reputation part 2

  • Utterson is wary of gossip and tries to avoid talking about Hyde to anyone else
  • Stevenson challenges gentlemanly ideals, in particular reputation. He suggests that reputations are only based on the appearences and facades that people try to uphold and show society. 
  • Gentlemen were determined to maintain their reputations, without a good reputation a man could not be conisidered gentleman
  • Utterson is more concerned with preserving Jekyll's reputation than bringing Hyde to trial- after Carew has been murdered he says to Jekyll "if it came to a trial, your name might appear"
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Setting and duality

  • The novella shows how divided victorian society is through the use of duality and setting- rich and poor, upper class and lower class, light and dark (fog), safety in the day and danger at night, safety inside and danger outside, respectability and scandal, abandon and restraint (being free to do what you want and being trapoped/having to follow rules)
  • "Air of invatation" + "no windows nor bell nor knocker"
  • "Wore a great air of wealth and comfort" + "decayed from their high estate"
  • "a well dressed, elderly servant opened the door" + "map engravers, architects, shady lawyers and the agents of obscure enterprises"
  • "heir to a quarter of a million sterling" + "ragged children huddled in doorways or penny numbers, two penny stands"  or "gin palace, low french eating house"
  • "At the furthest end...up a flight of stairs...(behind) a door covered with red baize"- shows what steps he's gone to hide himself- secrecy- Utterson has never been allowed in this part of the house- Jekyll has hidden it deliberately
  • After the death of Carew Utterson visits Jeyll- the operating theatre is "gaunt", this forshadows Jekyll's strange state of mind
  • "Barred(with) iron"- pathetic falicy- prizoner behind bars association and jekyll has chosen to take away his own freedom because Hyde has become dangerous
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  • Jekyll isolates himself because he can no longer be respectable
  • Repeated mention of glass and windows- glass is a symbol of separation, isolating Jekyll
  • "The growl of london"- onomatopoeia to describe athmosphere of london
  • "The dismal quarter of Soho"
  • "Mournful invasion of darkness"
  • "like a district of some city in a nightmare"
  • "I was coming home from some place at the end of the world, about 3 o'clock of a black winter morning" - pathetic fallacy
  • "...and its lamps, which had never been extinguished or had been kindeled afresh to combat this mournful reinvasion of darnkess"- lamps are "mournful" reflecting how the characters feel about the darkness coming back- Mr Hyde is the darkness that keeps coming back
  • "Lying on her back as though the wind tilted her"- moon description- represents Hyde pushing the girl in chapter 1- pathetic fallacy- moon and the girl are helpless
  • Doors symbolise how good and evil can go in and out
  • "like fire in a forest" 
  • "Frost in the air", "a regular pattern of light and shadow", "the face of the fogged city moon", "unshaken by any wind", "hum and clatter"
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Gothic settings and symbolisim

  • Stevenson emphasises the darkness in the novel. Less respectable parts of London are associated with darkness
  • In Soho, light is always changing. This symbolises the narrative as a whole: only parts of the truth are seen at any one time
  • Stevenson repeatedly mentions fog, it's so dense it covers the streets, making them a place of secrecy where crimes take place
  • During the Victorian era, London was known for smoke. It was so dense that sometimes people fell into the Thames
  • Stevenson uses the fog to isolate characters and restrict the readers and the characters veiw of events- Fog symbolises mystery
  • The fog in Jekyll's house symbolises how deeply his secret is hidden and Hyde's house is surrounded by a "pall lowered over heaven"- this shows how the fog is connected to death and sinister activities
  • Jekyll's house shows both sides of his character and his devision- Lab represents Jekyll's shame and hidden desires- The fact that the door is "blistered and distained" could represent the decay that Jekyll hides from society
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Gothic settings and symbolisim part 2

  • Jekyll's house is described as having "three dusty windows barred with iron"- the fact that the windows are blacked out, could represent the part of his mind that he has suppressed from releasing
  • The laboratory is described as a "dingy windowless structure"- makes the house seem sinister
  • As Hyde becomes more powerful, the sinisterness increases and the house becomes a "house of voluntary                     ". This shows that Jekyll has chosen to lock himself in the house, the house has become a vessel for harbouring Jekyll's hidden self
  • The streets are often empty, this creates a sense of silence and mystery- Hyde's attacks place in the streets. therefore there is a nightmareish athmosphere around London's streets
  • This is emphasised by the use of pathetic fallacy and metaphores that describe the fog and the streets- Soho is described as "a district of some city in a nightmare"
  • Stevenson uses vauge descriptions of farmilliar settings and there are rarely any people in what is usually a busy city
  • The lack of people makes the streets seem isolated and mysterious- instead of being highly populated, there is a movement "embattled vapours", the reader also hears that "a fog rolled over the city in the small hours"
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Gothic settings and symbolism part 3

  • Dynamic metaphors suggest that there are secret forces working within London and these sinister forces of evil manifest in the weather, the fog and the vapours in the air
  • These subteraneous hints and ambiguous symbols are farmilliar throughout the novel and increase especially when Hyde is around
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Gothic conventions

  • Gothic novels often deal with human emotion, mystery and the supernatural- Jekyll and Hyde aimed to shock the Victorian reader
  • The moon, deserted streets and foggy city all reflect the mood and create a sense of foreboding
  • Jekyll and Hyde centres on Jekyll's disturbing secret, which causes everyone who encounters it to go pale with dread and horror
  • Utterson dreams about Hyde in chapter 2, this shows how unconscious fears are released in sleep and a lack of control over thoughts
  • Jekyll's tansformation represents the supernatural
  • Jekyll's changing character was common in Gothic books
  • The characters become increasingly alone- Jekyll becomes isolated and in chapter 7, Enfeild and Utterson try to coax him to join them on their walk but he refuses
  • Gothic novels usually have a villain/evil character
  • In Jekyll and Hyde, the evil character is part of a respectable mans character, which would have been even more horrifying to the Victorian reader who would have been a respectable person themselves
  • The idea that the villain is like the reader makes the novella ghastlier
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Context and the author

  • Stevenson= born in Edinburgh, Scotland on November 13th 1850
  • He was very unwell in his youth + suffered from tuberculosis
  • He did very well at school + attended uni when he was 16 years old
  • Stevenson's parents wanted him to become an engineer- he decided to study law instead
  • He was a young rebel - he didn't follow his parent's expectations of him as a religious scholar. he saw his parent's religion as an outrage and he became a bohemian who was critical of the upper-class hypocrisy and borgeois vales
  • Just like Jekyll, Stevenson had a shameful dimension to his character
  • His parents, from the new town, campeigned against prostitution + crime that occured in the old town of Edinburgh. However, unbeknown to his parents, Stevenson visited the dark corners of the town to visit brothels + enguage in activities that would have horrified his parents
  • Crossing over from the respectible side of the city, to the impoverished side of the city was, in a way, the start of the journey to writing Jekyll and Hyde. The new town of Edinburgh might have had impressive houses +attractive facades but behind the classy exterior, the same kinds of scandalous act and indecency were occuring
  • RLS first published the novella in 1886. England was undergoing social changes+ urban terror was rife
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Context and the author part 2

  • The book was written when the economic growth in England was booming, triggered by industrial revolution
  • The victorian period also saw a change in societal conventions- science played a more important role+ there was a shift from religion to scientific theories
  • The veiws of morally also changed: people started to enguage in questionable activites and behaviors
  • There was a strict division between the rich + poor parts of the city of London
  • The rigid class system defined where people were allowed to live, work, eat and travel in London. The class system also dictated how you were educated, how you behaved and what was expected of you as a citizen
  • The location of Hyde's door in the 1st chapter was chosen by Stevenson because it was notorious for crimes and criminal activities, prostitution+ opium dens where well-respected men would visit brothels+consume opium
  • The fog of London is a motif in the novella+ Hyde's character is associated with the fog for 2 reasons
  • The fog is dirty+ is associated with the depraved parts of london
  • The fog also disguises + hides Hyde's criminal activities
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Context and the author part 3

  • Soho is described as being "attacked" by darkness throughout the novella, which illustrates how the fog was an overwhealming force, much like the crime of Soho
  • In the 1850's + 1860's there were occasional waves of crimes+ appauling offences in Victorian England
  • The murders of Jack the ripperin the autumn of 1888 were committed in a small area of London's east end. These murders evoked nationwide panic+ horror amongst citizens+ press sensationalisim was emphasised to sell newspapers
  • Violence, especially crimes+violence with a sexual element, increased sales of papers of news stories. The most common crimes were prostitution+ drunkenness or disorders

Decon Brodie and freud

  • Stevenson was raised in Edinburgh, which was divided by wealthy proportions+impoverished populations. Stevenson would have been farmilliar with the legend of Deacon William Brodie + there are some uncanny similarities between Jekyll+ the legend of Deacon Brodie
  • This man was a well-respected cabinet maker+pillar of the community- who was also a member of the local council+respectible of govournment
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Deacon Brodie and Freud

  • Brodie made his fortune by fixing locks and door mechanisims for people's homes in the city
  • Despite his well-respecting reputation, he had a passion for pleasure+ for enguaging with less-respectable activities
  • At night, he frequented the worst parts of Edinburgh + he drank excessive amounts of alchohol. He had 2 mistresses+ a passion for gaming+ he had 5 illigitemate children as a result
  • To fund his debauchery, he started to steal from people as he entered their houses to repair doors
  • Brodie was a master burglar+ he hid his crimes well from the rest of society+ managed to maintain his facade
  • This false identity and reputation was maintained until he decided to rob an office- he was caught by an officer but ran away
  • However, some letters that he was sending to a trusted friend were found by the authorites+ this led to him being detained
  • Months later, in 1788, he was hanged at the old Edinburgh tollbooth
  • Today, the old legend+ dual character of Deacon Brodie is a common legend of Edinburgh+ many attractions+ pubs remain to mark his story
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AMAZING info. but really bad spelling mistakes.

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