The novella is set in Victorian England in the 1800's.
Robert Louis Stevenson, the author grew up in this era. Making this story more relative and more accurate. There are two main parts to Victorian England. The higher, working, and poor classes. The working class is where Jekyll and Hyde's laboratory and town house is set. Though Jekyll is wealthy, he lives in the lower class part of town.
Dr.Jekyll: A respectable and wealthy born doctor who has a dark side. Friend to his fellow doctor, Lanyon, and lawyer, Mr. Utterson. He goes under an extreme change in behavior when taking a drug to switch to his alter ego. He has invented a chemical formula that can turn a person into his alter ego. Dr. Jekyll uses his Hyde persona to live a secret life of depravity.
Mr.Hyde: A small wretched looking man. He is repulsive to everyone, although no one can give a reason as to why. He lives and works in the laboratory connecting to Dr. Jekyll's town house. He is the main recipient of Dr. Jekyll's will, which causes Mr. Utterson to be suspicious of him. Mr. Hyde disappears after he is seen murdering Danvers Carew. As the novel unfolds, we see that Mr. Hyde is a physical expression of Dr. Jekyll’s evil alter ego.
Mr. Utterson: A profound lawyer and self-made detective. He is a good friend of Dr. Jekyll and relative to Mr. Enfield, whom he goes on weekly walks with. He seeks to find the truth about Hyde and uncovers the truth when he finds the letter from Dr.Jekyll explaining the situation.
Mr. Lanyon: An old friend of Mr. Utterson and Dr. Jekyll. Conflicted with Dr. Jekyll on certain scientific matters. After Danvers death, when Jekyll unexpectedly turns into Mr. Hyde, he sends a desperate letter to Dr. Lanyon requesting materials from his lab. Mr. Hyde changes into Dr. Jekyll in front of Lanyon. After witnessing this, Dr. Lanyon falls ill and dies. He leaves behind a letter addressed to Mr. Utterson, explaining the details of what he saw.
Mr. Enfield: Young relative to Mr. Utterson and a businessman. Shares a weekly walk with Utterson. Shares a story of his encounter with Mr. Hyde later shares an odd encounter with Jekyll.
Poole: Dr. Jekyll's butler. He helps Mr. Utterson in discovering Hyde’s true identity. Poole helps Mr. Utterson break into the laboratory where they find Hyde dead.
A metaphor is a way to compare two different things to make an interesting connection in the reader’s mind.
"Poor Harry Jekyll . . . my mind misgives me he is in deep waters!" (Stevenson 20)
Jekyll is not literally drowning but he is in deep trouble. Utterson shows true concern for his friend. Utterson then decides to figure what is happening on his own. He becomes a sort of detective and solves the mystery of Jekyll & Hyde.
"Mr. Utterson began to haunt the door of the by-street shops." (Stevenson 18)
Mr. Utterson isn't a ghost, he is a live human being there for he couldn't actually haunt the street. By haunting the author means he was there so often to see if he could catch a glimpse of Mr. Hyde. He acted on curiosity.
"And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot and hailing down a thunder storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway." (Stevenson 28)
In this quote we see that Hyde was animal-like; destructive, uncivilized, ape-like, as well as deformed. I think this shows the harshness that was Hyde. Also kind of describes the things that were so repulsive about him that people could not put into words.
An allegory is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.
Good vs. Evil: This is quite obviously the major allegory of the novel. Not only in the novel but the good and evil that exist in all men, and about our struggle with these two sides of the human personality. In this book, the battle between good and evil rages within the individual, Hyde/Jekyll. Since Hyde seems to be taking over, one could argue that evil is stronger than good. However, Hyde does end up dead at the end of the story, perhaps suggesting a weakness or failure of evil. The big question, of course, is whether or not good can be separated from evil, or whether the two are forever tangled.
The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde is written in third person limited. The author picks one character and follows him around for a certain period of time to show their side of the story. In this story for the majority of the time it is Mr. Utterson. Then there are four narratives told in the same point of view but as another person.
Five Narratives Within Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde:
- Mr. Utterson
- Mr. Enfield's Story about Mr.Hyde
- The Maid's Story of Carew's Murder
- Dr. Lanyon's Letter
- Dr. Jekyll's Confession Letter
Stevenson is a talented author because is able to create different characters and act as them while sounding completely different for each individual person. Choosing Utterson as the narrator is a smart move because he is able to show his emotions about this mystery the entire time, even though it goes into separate narratives, we are still following Utterson's reactions to the news and the unraveling of these stories.
The mood of the novella is suspense. This story provides us with the endless want for answers, always asking questions. Leaving us on cliffhangers and the readers are always on edge when reading. We are just as emotional as the characters in the story.
The tone throughout this the story of Dr. Jekyll & Hyde is a sense of mysteriousness which is influenced by the unanswered questions we are left with throughout the story. We too like Utterson are detectives trying to put together our clues and figure out the mystery that is Jekyll & Hyde.
Repression: This certainly causes trouble for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The repression here is that of Victorian England: no sexual appetites, no violence, and no great expressions of emotion, at least in the public eye. In the Victorian times it was immoral to be happy. The more Dr. Jekyll’s forbidden inclinations are repressed, the more he desires the life of Mr. Hyde, and the stronger Mr. Hyde becomes. Dr. Jekyll finds that the pull to evil has been enhanced after months of hiding that side.
Friendship: This theme drives the plot. Mr. Utterson is genuinely interested in what is going on and the evil man behind the mystery but he does this mainly because Dr. Jekyll is his friend. While trying to solve the mystery, his friendships lead him closer to the secret. As for Lanyon's friendship we see that he is not as loyal and unconditional. Their friendship is more about competition and was separated by their different opinions in science.