What would you grade this Jekyll and Hyde essay? Any improvements to be made.

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Starting with this extract, explore how Stevenson creates a suspicious atmosphere.
Write about:
• how Stevenson creates a suspicious atmosphere in this extract
• how Stevenson creates an atmosphere of suspicion in the novel as a whole.
[30 marks]



Ideas of a “suspicious atmosphere” are commonly referenced in Stevenson’s novella, Jekyll and Hyde. The characters’ constructs and setting of the novella on the whole is accountable for creating suspicion, and can be seen to reflect Victorian London’s queer surroundings, and locals. With a major problem of poverty, we can only guess what these people would do to make ends meet, and what impact this strange way of life may have on visitors, such as Utterson and Enfield, two highly respectable gentlemen. Through character constructs, references and obscuring certain pieces of information, Stevenson achieves a “suspicious atmosphere”.

In the extract, we are introduced to Utterson and Enfield, both cousins, who are discussing an encounter. We see the use of pathetic fallacy in “a black winter morning”. “Black winter morning” can also be viewed as a biblical reference for judgement day, the idea is that Hyde (who we have not yet met) is committing some form of a crime, and God may soon come to judge Hyde for his actions. However, this phrase also relates to the idea of concealment, we are unaware at the time of what Enfield is up to,but with use of “black”, we are either to assume it is bad-natured (black being referenced to bad health, sickness and evil) or the winter morning is hiding something, obscured to the reader, which we may not be aware of yet. A “Winter morning” tends not to be “black” either, this suggests there is some form of a blatantly obvious, evil, outlying event of bad-will that is probable, or has already occured. Ultimately, whether the event is concealed, or is one which is viewed as bad-natured, we are unaware of it yet, Stevenson therefore creates suspicion through the ambiguity of the term “black”, but also through the fact we are unaware of what the future holds. “It wasn’t like a man, it was like some damned juggernaut”, again is a quote that raises suspicion. This is said after the first sighting of Hyde. He is referred to as “it”, suggesting that he is not human, simply an animal or object. This raises a suspicious atmosphere, as we are simply confused with whether or not he is human.The simile “wasn’t like a man” additionally creates suspicion. This simile on a whole disregards the idea of Hyde being a man, as it is suggested that he “wasn’t”, or didn’t share the features of a male human. This establishes a suspicious atmosphere, through disregarding Hyde’s form as being that of a human-being, we are left to question the encounter, and share suspicion in whether “it” was an animal, or humanoid form that committed the heresy.

In the novel on the whole, Jekyll is one to say something that creates an atmosphere of suspicion. “The large handsome face of Dr. Jekyll grew pale to the very lips and there came a blackness about his eyes. ‘I do not care to hear more,’ said he. “This is a matter I thought we had agreed to drop”. Again, “blackness” is referenced, however, in this case it is more clear what this “blackness” is, as now we know Jekyll is in fact Hyde, and in this extract, Jekyll is discussing Hyde, and becomes uncomfortable doing so. “Blackness” could be referring to how Jekyll’s inner desires (possessed in his Id, Hyde) begin to release with the mention of his name, perhaps Hyde is somewhat obedient, like the animal he is made out to be, or Jekyll is trying to repress Hyde’s invasive personality. However, Jekyll says he doesn’t “care to hear more”. This suggests that Jekyll is uncomfortable with discussion of the matter, allowing the reader to further fathom out what other heresies Hyde has committed, to make Jekyll this uncomfortable, or whether something has happened to Hyde, perhaps a separation of the two personas. Ultimately, the quote creates suspicion, as we as readers are suspicious of why Jekyll must conceal his deviations under his own eyes, containing a “blackness” - an obscuring colour of his true self. Stevenson’s intention is to highlight how even the most noble of society have secrets they would rather not share, and we have the right to be suspicious of even the most reputable, who may be hiding under a “black” canopy, like Enfield on his morning walk. Stevenson also hints that we need to be suspicious to be safe, as those like Hyde could disrupt are lives, if we do not question their presence

Contextually, Victorians were suspicious of many things, with scientific discoveries just emerging, and proving some conventional beliefs wrong, they were right to be so. Like Dr. Jekyll, many middle class men were insistent on keeping their reputation. This sometimes involved repressing certain secrets, which may make or break relationships with their peers, sometimes it was just best to not tell anyone. Secrets such as crimes, like Jekyll had, could lead to punishment not just from the parish, or Church, but from a greater force in Victorian Society, the law. Many served long sentences, so with a high level of reputation, it was paramount that those like Jekyll kept their secrets. Overall though, the tradition of “secret-keeping” led to a public body who were suspicious of everyone, causing there to be an emergence of fear and an abundance of far-fetched theories. Stevenson highlights this very much in Jekyll and Hyde, by referencing Victorian Society’s fears, he establishes a readership interested very much in reading fictitious stories, possibly relating to their own.

In conclusion, we have explored how Stevenson creates a suspicious atmosphere, and how he does it. He creates it very much through the presentation of characters, and surroundings. And uses a form of literary techniques and phrases to establish the effect.
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