Tension and mystery in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde essayWatch this thread
Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Read the following extract from Chapter 4 (The Carew Murder Case) of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and then answer the question that follows.
In this extract, Utterson and Inspector Newcomen have come to find Mr Hyde at his lodging house after the murder of Sir Danvers Carew.
It was by this time about nine in the morning, and the first fog of the season. A great chocolate-coloured pall lowered over heaven, but the wind was continually charging and routing these embattled vapours; so that as the cab crawled from street to street, Mr. Utterson beheld a marvellous number of degrees and hues of 5 twilight; for here it would be dark like the back-end of evening; and there would be a glow of a rich, lurid brown, like the light of some strange conflagration; and here, for a moment, the fog would be quite broken up, and a haggard shaft of daylight would glance in between the swirling wreaths. The dismal quarter of Soho seen under these changing glimpses, with its muddy ways, and slatternly 10 passengers, and its lamps, which had never been extinguished or had been kindled afresh to combat this mournful re-invasion of darkness, seemed, in the lawyer’s eyes, like a district of some city in a nightmare. The thoughts of his mind, besides, were of the gloomiest dye; and when he glanced at the companion of his drive, he was conscious of some touch of that 15 terror of the law and the law’s officers which may at times assail the most honest. As the cab drew up before the address indicated, the fog lifted a little, and showed him a dingy street, a gin-palace, a low French eating-house, a shop for the retail of penny numbers and twopenny salads, many ragged children huddled in the doorways, and many women of many different nationalities passing out, 20 key in hand, to have a morning glass; and the next moment the fog settled down again upon that part, as brown as umber, and cut him off from his blackguardly surroundings. This was the home of Henry Jekyll’s favourite; of a man who was heir to a quarter of a million sterling.
Starting with this extract, explore how Stevenson creates mystery and tension in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
• how Stevenson creates mystery and tension in this extract
• how Stevenson creates mystery and tension in the novel as a whole.
In the Victorian novella, Stevenson creates mystery and tension in ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ to evoke the idea of “man isn’t truly one, but truly two”: duplicity. Stevenson uses this belief to almost construct duplicity by masking it into every aspect in the gothic novella to show how duality affects ‘everything’ without notice.
Starting with the extract, Stevenson creates mystery and tension through the juxtaposing settings of “the fog” and the “haggard shaft of daylight”. The alliteration of “the first fog” is conveyed as manipulating the “heavenly morals” as the fog “lowered over heaven”. The use of contrasting pathetic fallacy highlights the duplicity of “man isn’t just truly one, but truly two”. Stevenson evokes pathetic fallacy to indicate how duplicity does not just happen in “man” but also occurs in the obscurity nature surrounding these contrasting characters within the novella. This imagery being crafted creates ominous connotations which would have left the 18th contemporary reader to have felt bewildered through Stevenson’s construction of the duplicity through the weather. This may have left the Victorian society to question Stevenson’s use of obscurity, which is being expressed as “human”, as this would have been linked to Supernatural doings during the Victorian society. Furthermore, the adjective “haggard” implies agonising connotations as the fog is evoked masking the “shaft of light”. “The fog” could be representing Hyde’s “ape like fury” antagonist whilst the “light” could be representing Jekyll’s “capacity and kindness”. Stevenson constructs Jekyll’s alter-ego, Hyde, to indicate duplicity by implicitly showing this through the use of pathetic fallacy. Duality portrays how the Id is shown to “masked” the superego (ego) from society which creates tension towards the current reader. This further links to Freud’s theory of duality where everything and everyone suffers from duplicity but some decide to mask the beast inside from society. The use of duplicity affecting the Victorian society in Stevenson’s novella would have agitated the 18th century reader as it creates mysterious implications caused by the duality between the ego.
The final way Stevenson models mystery and tension through the extract is constructing through class which divided London up. Stevenson clarifies Soho as “dismal” with an “re-invasion of darkness” which creates tension and mystery as the contemporary reader would be intrigued as to why Soho differs from the rest of London in the Victorian era. The adjective “dismal” has depressing connotations as Soho was an area in Victorian London where people who lived in poverty usually were seen. Stevenson constructs personification through the “re-invasion of darkness” to indicate how Soho is “masked” from heaven which shows why Soho lives under a blanked of “darkness” to emphasise how class was divided in the Victorian era. Utterson compares Soho’s atmosphere “like a district of some city in a nightmare”. The use of a simile creates dull coloured imagery which allows the reader to picture Soho and it’s conditions people had to face. This class dividing links back to Lombross’ theory where class division was judgemental against the lower class of society. This further connotes to the stereotypical belief of lower class as it was believed to have been the main cause of misdeeds and immoral behaviour which is why Stevenson presents Soho as this “nightmare” city where Hyde is indicated to live. In contrast, Stevenson portrays Jekyll’s “house” when the “fog settled” to reveal his “heir to a quarter of a million sterling”. This contrast Hyde’s place where the “first fog” blanketed Soho’s existence to hide the misdeeds from society. This juxtaposing of the two areas in London highlights duality which indicates Stevenson’s allegorical message of how duplicity lives inside every aspect which is implicitly shown in society. This creates tension and mystery as this would have left the Victorian contemporary reader to have agitated this idea of duality and how it has its place in everything. This is not explicit enough to realise.
However, another way Stevenson creates mystery and tension in the grotesque novella by employing duplicity through the malevolent Hyde. In chapter 4, Mr Utterson and Mr Enfield is shown to go on their “Sunday walks” and stops by a “sinister block of buildings”. Mr Enfield starts to tell “The Story of the door” which indicates a “little man stumbling” towards a “little girl” as they suddenly “ran into one another”. The “dwarfish” Hyde is conveyed to have “trampled calmly” over the “screaming” child blatantly which has furtive connotations as Hyde is acting furtively towards society, highlighting his “deformed” antagonist. The oxymoronic phrase creates tension and mysterious connotations as it can be indicating the two juxtaposing characters of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. The verb “trampled” highlights Hyde’s gratuitous behaviour which dehumanises Hyde as not “like a man” but more “like a damned juggernaut” The use of dehumanising Hyde helps the reader understand explicitly how duplicity can affect an ego. The noun “juggernaut” has strong connotations which conveys that Hyde is bestial. As well as this, the adjective “damned” further connotes to Hyde going to Hell which foreshadows the later events in the novella. Stevenson does this through Jekyll’s id, Hyde, to indicate how the id acts as it “masked” the ego from society. This links to Darwinism where humans were believed to have evolved from apes. This reference helps the Victorian reader to understand how the ego still has this “ape like fury” tempered id within them. The use of duality shown through Jekyll’s ego emphasises how even the most “innocent” people in society can be affected by this ‘condition’. In contrast, the adverb “calmly” has pleasant connotations of Jekyll’s ego trying to fight its way through the “deformed” id. This links back to Stevenson’s purpose to exemplify how duplicity lives inside everything.
Another way Stevenson crafts mystery and tension through duplicity, in the novella, is also again through the antagonist Hyde. Hyde’s appearance is described to be “pale and dwarfish” which gave an impression of a “displeasing smile” The two associated adjectives creates bewildered implications as Hyde is shown to be bestial and strong. This contrast between Hyde’s appearance as he is shown to be “dwarfish” which would normally be with “innocent” and vulnerable individuals in society. The adjective “pale” has vampiric connotations which further implicates Hyde’s “nocturnal” antagonist who is shown to hide away from society and live outside of the norms. It can be interpreted that Hyde cactus like a vampire who feeds off Jekyll’s blood by disintegrating Jekyll’s ego slowly. This duplicity through “man isn’t truly one, but truly two” relates back to Stevenson’s idea of how duality has a spot in every ego and every aspect to persuade the reader realise how duplicity acts without any concern or notice. This idea of vampiric implications can be backed ip with how Hyde only appears at night, realising Jekyll in the morning. This idea of duplicity makes it implicitly hard to see if someone or yourselves are suffering with duality within as the id decided to also stay “masked” the ego from society. This idea again links to Feud’s theory of duality.
Furthermore in the didactic novella, Stevenson assembles mystery and tension by evoking duplicity of “man isn’t truly one, but truly two”. This duplicity is conveyed through the two juxtaposing characters of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” where their two differed descriptions and personalities contrast one another. This would have led the Victorian reader to be intrigued as the Victorian era was just developing the new Industrial Revolution where they built big factories which burnt carbon emissions to produce coal, oil, and more. In the Victorian era, there was new discovers yet to be discovered. Stevenson, coming up with Freud’s ideas of duality, concluding this duplicity between each individual ego and aspect would have led the reader to read Stevenson’s gothic novella to find out more about how this duplicity occurs in different aspects without any notice. Stevenson describes Hyde’s appearance as “pale and dwarfish” which later contrasts Jekylls appearance with his “large, well made, smoothed face”. Stevenson interprets duplicity through their juxtaposed appearances to again indicate how duality affects the ego implicitly as the id is always shown to act like a “creature” than “Like a man”.
Overall, Stevenson portrays mystery and tension through his belief of “man isn’t truly one but truly two”: duplicity. Stevenson constructs duplicity by masking it through aspects in the Victorian novella to indicate how duality affects ‘everything’ without no notice.