Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson

"In each of us, two natures are at war - the good and the evil..." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Victorian London ~ 1886

SETTING:

"a certain sinister block of building thrust forward its gable on the street... showed no window, nothing but a door...and bore in every feature, the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence," (Stevenson 3)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the most well-known mysteries ever written. It includes old, abandoned buildings, magic potions, and unanswered questions. The stage of this novella adds to the suspense of the story, happening in Victorian London. The abandoned Victorian building introduced in Chapter 1 is the ideal stage for a mysterious story. Along with the magic potions made in the laboratory, the abandoned streets of London, and the endless questions without answers, the historic background of Victorian London provides the perfect setting for the mysterious novella.

In Victorian London, the rich lived a very different life than the poor. This setting of the novella sets the stage to depict the difference between the personalities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The distinction between the rich and the poor can serve as a representation of the men living inside Dr. Jekyll. The rich illustrates the strong and good man that Jekyll is himself. He is well kept, and well off after inheriting a large amount of money. However, the poor soul Mr. Hyde appears as the irrational, dangerous side of Dr. Jekyll. The poor were often avoided due to their dirtiness, just like Mr. Hyde is avoided because of the horrifying appearance of his face. The relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde represent the large difference in the poor and rich of the Victorian Age.

Tone/Mood:

The tone throughout the novella Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a sense of mysteriousness. The tone is influenced by the suspense of questions throughout the story.

  • What is the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
  • What was behind the doors of the abandoned building?
  • What caused Dr. Jekyll to disappear behind the window so suddenly?
  • Why did Dr. Jekyll have the other half of the Carew murder weapon?

All questions that soon lead up to the discovery of the true identity of Dr. Jekyll. The tone is set by the setting of the abandoned building in Chapter 1 along with the first impression of Hyde murdering Carew .

The overall mood is suspense. Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a story keeping all readers on the edge of their seats. Endless questions are presented throughout the novella to keep the readers wanting to come back to have their questions answered.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Characterization:

  • Dr. Henry Jekyll - handsome, wealthy, & middle aged physician that represents his normality; struggles with his inner personalities and claims that every man lives with two persons inside of them; trapped by his dark side that escapes as Mr. Hyde
"The middle one of the three windows was half-way open; and sitting close beside it, taking the air with an infinite sadness of mien, like some disconsolate prisoner, Utterson saw Dr. Jekyll," (Stevenson 39)
  • Mr. Edward Hyde - younger & evil side of Dr. Jekyll, his second personality; has a major deformity that makes him unbearable to be looked at which signifies his evilness; brought out by the magic potion made by Jekyll; hated by everyone who's met him
"He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something down-right detestable" (Stevenson 7)
  • Mr. Utterson - protagonist; perfect represenation of ideal man in the Victorian age, a very diciplined lawyer; simplisitic personality which does not ask many questions; loved by and a friend to most characters in the story; told in his point of view, constantly trying to figure out the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Dr. Lanyon - a former friend of Dr. Jekyll; serves as the contradicting mind of Jekyll; eventually helps Utterson crack the mystery between the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Mr. Enfield - distant relative of Mr. Utterson; participates in the weekly walk with Mr. Utterson where they discover Mr. Hyde; another representation of Victorian man, well respected and reserved

Point of View:

The point of view for majority of the story is told in third person limited. In the eyes of Mr. Utterson, the limited type of view allows for the story to maintain its suspense by only allowing the knowledge of Mr. Utterson.

The last two chapters of the book, the point of view shifts to Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll. These chapters are explained through their own experiences. By shifting the very last chapter to the view of Dr. Jekyll through his letter, the audience discovers the mystery of Jekyll and Hyde the same time Utterson does.

Allegory:

"The door, which was equipped with neither bell nor knocker, was blistered and distained," (Stephenson 3)

The door in the back of the abandoned laboratory that connects to Jekyll's house represents the freedom of Hyde. He is free to enter Jekyll's home whenever he pleases. Not a bell or knocker will warn Dr. Jekyll that Hyde has entered his home. Nothing will hinder Hyde from entering and existing the house and life of Dr. Jekyll.

"In each of us, two natures are at war - the good and the evil..."

The good and evil between Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll represents the contradicting personalities in all men. This was stated by the author Robert Louis Stevenson about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but not printed in the novella. Every person has inner personalities that will not always agree with each other. The characters of Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll bring to life those qualities.

Metaphor:

"Poor Harry Jekyll ... my mind misgives me he is in deep waters!" (Stevenson 17)

Jekyll is being described as "drowning" however, he is not drowning in actual water. Jekyll is drowning in the troubles and problems relating to Hyde.

Theme:

Good v. Evil - the main theme exemplified in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is "good v. evil". The main characters are those who are taking on those separate roles. Dr. Jekyll takes on the role of the "good" by being a well respected man in the community, and also very genuine. However, he struggles internally with his opposite nature, Mr. Hyde, who frequently takes over him. The "bad" is always surrounded by hate and trouble, who fights to take over the good forever. This represents the ultimate struggle human kind has within themselves, the bad trying to outlast the good.

"Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end." (Stevenson 84)
Created By
Rachel McDonald
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