The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde The Effective Use of Literary Devices

Setting

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde takes place in Victorian England, a time where public image was important and desired. Because of these principles, Dr. Jekyll is to keep his latent bestial desires hidden. Hiding the desires cause Jekyll to release them into a concentrated ball of sin that is Hyde. The setting ultimately creates the pressure that brings Jekyll to search for a clean way out, creating Hyde in the process.

"Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life." (Stevenson, 59).

Because of Victorian society's strictures on emotions and outward feelings, Jekyll must hold his impulses inside. This creates an alternate reality within him; one he day-dreams about and wishes to feel so he can escape the world he is in. But he doesn't want to leave the world he's in totally behind.

Characterization

Excellent characterization is rife within this novel. It is crucial to the plot of the story because the plot revolves around the humanity of Dr. Jekyll. Characters are described in intricate ways and react just as you would imagine someone would even if you can't relate with them in the situations they're in. Their thoughts and actions are believable and don't change to fix plot holes. Their interactions between each other are believable too.

"Hence the ape-like tricks that he would play on me, scrawling in my own hand blasphemies on the pages of my books, burning the letters and destroying the portrait of my father; and indeed, had it not been for his fear of death, he would have ruined himself in order to involve me in ruin." (Stevenson, 71).

Hyde is shown to hate Jekyll for confining him to the lab room. Everything Hyde does in the quote is 100% percent believable by his nature, and expertly worded.

Another thing I've noticed: both Lanyon's and Jekyll's letters sound like their own voices and not like Stevenson trying to play the part. It goes to show how well Stevenson can write, to create new characters within himself.

Metaphors/Allegory

The way that Hyde and Jekyll share similar yet different characteristics is a wonderful example of subtle metaphors. Metaphors work best when they make sense in the world around them and still work to convey a hidden message. A few examples include the slight differences in their handwriting and their difference in size and shape.

"Well sir, there's a rather singular resemblance; the two hands are in many points identical: only differently sloped." (Stevenson, 34).

I see Hyde's slanted handwriting as a metaphor for his slanted morality. He is Dr. Jekyll but skewed in a different direction.

"Again, in the course of my life, which had been, after all, nine-tenths a life of effort, virtue, and control, it had been much less exercised and much less exhausted." (Stevenson, 62).

This metaphor was more obvious in this quote and I think it explains itself.

Point of View

The point of view in this novel is through the eyes of Mr. Utterson. He is the perfect audience surrogate because he too has limited information on the situation going on about him. But he also has access to many resources that open up the story in a way that seems plausible, such as he being a lawyer.

"And still the figure had no face by which he might know it; even in his dreams, it had no face, or one that baffled him and melted before his eyes; and thus it was that there sprung up and grew apace in the lawyer's mind a singularly strong, almost an inordinate curiosity to behold the features of the real Mr. Hyde." (Stevenson, 17).

At this moment in time, Enfield has told us what Hyde looks like; deformed, malicious, spine-chilling, etc. But it is not until Utterson himself sees Mr. Hyde that we really get a sense of how terrible he is. This is because we see through Utterson's eyes and coming face-to-face with Hyde is like us seeing Hyde with our own eyes. The above quotes signifies how our view on Hyde's image is still hazy because Utterson can't put a face to his demeanor.

Mood and Tone

The tone imposed by the strange happenings and confusing scenarios in the story comes about as disorienting. A dangerous man is on the loose and is under the protection of a man held in high-regards by the community. Not only that, but Dr. Lanyon is dead and Dr. Jekyll won't see anyone. And no one knows why all of these strange and terrible things are going on. Looking through the eyes of Utterson, wanting to care for his friends and still respect their wishes seems like it would drive anyone a little insane.

"That was the amount of information that the lawyer carried back to the great,dark bed on which he tossed to and fro, until the small hours of the morning began to grow large. It was a night of little ease to his toiling mind, toiling in mere darkness and besieged by questions." (Stevenson, 17).

Mr. Utterson earlier on in the book can't help but think that his friend Jekyll is getting blackmailed by Hyde. Although he is a lawyer, he has his professional consent to keep the will as it is even though it may hurt Jekyll soon.

Theme

Stevenson creates his themes through the metaphors portrayed by the characterization of Jekyll and Hyde. When Jekyll reveals his reasoning for creating Hyde in the last chapter, one can feel empathetic for Jekyll. All his life he must hold in his true feelings and not act on impulse. Another recurring theme is how public image can change the nature of a person. And that relays on the reader how repressing one's feelings, even for the sake of others, can still be incredibly hard on a person, especially over an extended period.

"I, for my part, from the nature of my life, advanced infallibly in one direction, and in one direction only. It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man[.]" (Stevenson,60).

The quote describes how Jekyll's good nature pushed him to realize their was another side he was hiding and needed to let out before it consumed him. It is "primitive" because it is underdeveloped because he hasn't let Hyde shine through. It's primitiveness is also hinted at by Hyde's "ape-like" features and small frame, as mentioned many times in the story.

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