The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Essay on tension.

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Leah Brayshaw
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This is my first essay on this novella as I have just started studying it at school. Please could you briefly mark this essay. I’ll understand if it is not high level as I’ve just started it but yeah. Enjoy!


In the gothic novella, Stevenson creates tension through duality by presenting Hyde’s antagonist which can be juxtaposed by ‘Dr Jekyll’s’ protagonist. Stevenson does this to indicate duality is in everything and is natural which can be evoked as duality ‘masking’ the ego from society implicitly as the beast inside invades.

Shifting to the exposition, Stevenson creates tension through the theme of duality where Hyde is introduced. Enfield tells Utterson about ‘the story of the door’ where Hyde is described to “trampled calmly” over a “screaming child”. Stevenson uses an oxymoronic phrase to indicate Hyde’s furtive behaviour as he does not show any empathy for the child as he “trampled” over the child “calmly”. The verb “trampled” has skeptic connotations of roughness, implying blatant purpose over his actions as it was “hellish to see”. This leaves the reader to question Hyde’s “devilish” behaviour due to his immoral acts. Linking this to Freud’s theory of duality, Hyde is clarified as the Id of Jekyll’s ego, portraying him as the Machiavellian antagonist in the Victorian novella.

Later on after Hyde’s appearance, Enfield tells Utterson that Hyde “wasn’t like a man; it was like some damned juggernaut”. Stevenson dehumanises Hyde to imply he does not act “like a man”, instead he is concluded to act like the ‘beast inside’. The use of classifying Hyde as “it” has apprehensive implications, leaving the reader bewildered of what Hyde is capable of. The noun “juggernaut” is presented through the simile that indicates Hyde as being a strong antagonist which connotes him not being able to be bested. This makes the reader feel agitated as Stevenson is conveying that the theme of duality can be suffered and affect everyone as shown through Jekyll’s ego, slowly corrupting Jekyll’s morality.

In the grotesque novella of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, Stevenson presents Hyde through the use of duality to highlight how implicit the suffering occurs in society. Hyde’s appearance is implied as him being “pale and dwarfish” which implicates Hyde’s “deformity” as well as his shortness in the novella. The adjective “pale” has horrific connotations which could be associated with vampires, conveying that Hyde is living outside of the norms. This contrasts with Jekyll’s appearance of “a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty” which indicates duality through the ego. Stevenson shows Jekyll’s ego with a duality of the id and the superego to link to the idea of duality being uncontrolled as it is natural and belongs inside everything. This makes the reader see how duality can be ‘masked’ from society, making it impossible to see the suffering of the superego inside (being demolished by the id).

Stevenson presents Hyde to highlight duality and how it is hidden from society. Stevenson implies Hyde’s antagonist of having a “hissing intake of the breath”. The use of animalistic imagery links to Hyde’s deformed character as he is also shown here to not “act like a man”. This animalistic terminology bewilders the reader as Hyde is much more presented as an animal rather than a human which leaves them questioning his immoral morality. The susurrous verb of “hissing” has biblical references which link to the bible story of ‘Adam and Eve’ where Hyde is substituted as the serpent and Jekyll being Eve. The use of biblical imagery tells the reader that Jekyll’s morality is almost deteriorating slowly as Hyde is invading Jekyll’s ego. Stevenson does this to create tension through showing how duality can cause suffering upon the ego, good or bad. This makes the reader become anxious as Stevenson shows how inevitably the id can take over without realising it. This links back to Freud’s theory of duality as everyone has it inside of them, but they choose to almost ‘mask’ it from society.

In conclusion, Stevenson creates tension through duality by presenting the antagonist Hyde which is also juxtaposed against Jekyll’s protagonist. Stevenson shows the theme of duality through Hyde’s hubristic antagonist to imply he is slowly invading Jekyll’s ego, growing stronger, whilst Jekyll is left vulnerable, deteriorating. Duality is illustrated as masking the ego from society, corrupting the ego’s morality as it releases the ‘beast inside’.
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