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Model grade 9 Jekyll and Hyde Essay (Literature paper 1)

How is repression and reputation shown in Jekyll and Hyde?

Jekyll and Hyde written by Robert Louis Stevenson is a gothic shilling shocker published during the late Victorian era. Stevenson uses the characters of Dr Jekyll to explore the key themes of reputation, violence and repression. Stevenson deliberately traps Jekyll in a pious world of austere rules and regulations that shackles Jekyll and prevents him from exploring his primitive, primal and base thoughts. Stevenson subsequently explores the dual nature of man through his characterization of Hyde; the symbolic figure of man's true nature and violent tendencies. Stevenson might have wanted to show how a shackling Victorian society governed by reputation forced an upright and respected figure to lead a double life exploring his darker innermost desires.

Within the given extract provided, Enfield engages in gossip with Utterson about his encounter with Hyde; which was typically frowned upon. He describes the events he had experienced when it is shown that Hyde “Trampled calmly” Stevenson uses this Violent oxymoron and the adverb “calmly” to emphasize the ease and pleasure Hyde finds in violence; Stevenson may have wanted to highlight the enjoyment and pleasure Jekyll receives as being the release of Hyde. Stevenson might have wanted to show how a strict austere life led by reputation can impact a higher class man to find his hedonistic pleasures in violence. Stevenson deliberately sets the time of this encounter with Hyde in a “black winter morning” as Stevenson uses the technique of pathetic fallacy throughout the novella to create a mysterious, dark impression of Hyde. The adjective “black” suggests that Hyde is in an environment where he can be hidden and unexposed, which links to the key idea of reputation presented in the novella as even Hyde does not want to be caught. The time of the event being a “Winter morning” links to the effect Hyde has on people, as it is shown in further parts of the novella that Hyde has a “black-sneering coolness” and a chilling effect on his victims or bystanders. Stevenson further challenges his readership with ideas of repression within a Victorian society by allowing his readership question why a higher class gentleman such as Enfield is walking around in London in a “black winter morning”. Stevenson might have wanted to show that Victorian gentlemen had to hide their pleasures and that their lives are governed by reputation forcing them to repress their interests and pleasures.

Remaining in the extract provided, Stevenson further projects themes of violence, reputation and repression onto his readership when he uses the powerful religious metaphor “like a damned juggernaut” to show how Hyde is powerful. The religious adjective “damned” is used as typically within the Victorian era, Darwin's controversial theory of evolution frightened a pious Victorian society as it contradicted their key belief of the Christian origin story. Stevenson deliberately exploits this fear towards science throughout the novella to highlight the dark dual nature of man and to portray Hyde as evil, this can be further be shown when Enfield states “Hardly human”, “something troglodytic”. Stevenson uses the theme of science versus religion in the novella to frighten a pious Victorian readership. “hardly human” may display that Hyde is animalistic, he is linked to science and therefore should be feared. His disfigurement may be a warning and indicates that he is not entirely “human” but rather something to be feared and hated. The hyperbolic alliteration of “something downright detestable” clearly shows that Hyde is deformed in some way, the lack of pronoun “something” creates a dark, mysterious impression of Hyde that may frighten a reader, the harsh alliteration of “downright detestable” may be used to introduce Hyde into the play as an evil deformed tyrant. Stevenson deliberately portrays Hyde as being deformed and evil to show how a higher class man such as Jekyll, had to be the release of Hyde to get away from his repressed life so he could explore his imperfect, deformed and immoral desires that had built up over time. Stevenson might have wanted to enlighten a Victorian society that every person had an evil, darker side to them and that everyone is not the perfect Victorian gentleman with no imperfections.

Elsewhere within the novella, the themes of repression and reputation are further shown in Jekyll's confession. This can be shown by the imagery of “My devil had long been caged, he came out roaring.” which directly links to repression, after repressing his inner devil of Hyde for such a long period of time. Hyde grew more powerful, and came out “roaring” for his dark, violent pleasures. Stevenson uses the animalistic language throughout the novella, such as “snarling”, “hissing” and in this quote “roaring”, the animalistic verbs present Hyde as primal and threatening which links to one of the key themes presented in the novella; science vs religion. The animalistic devilish depiction of Hyde may provoke a pious Victorian readership as it may have been seen as sinful, blasphemous and unholy. Stevenson uses Hyde within this novella to symbolize the dual nature and dark underbelly of man's true instincts without repression. Repression in this Novella is used to create tension, this is used when Utterson decides not to open the letter. And is the main purpose of Jekyll creating Hyde; to be a release from a life that is repressed and judged by others. Stevenson might have wanted to use animalistic verbs and religious context to teach and inform a Victorian society of the dangers of repression, Stevenson may have used this gothic shilling novella almost as a threat to his readership.

Remaining elsewhere, Reputation and repression are further shown through the “Murder of Sir Danvers Carew”. These themes can be shown by the violent animalistic imagery of “with ape-like fury” and “hailing down a storm of blows”. Stevenson uses the pathetic fallacy metaphors of “hailing” and “storm” to emphasize the powerful, unstoppable strength of Hyde and how frightening he is. The pathetic fallacy used is strong, and shows that Hyde is more powerful after more exposure to the world as the weather becomes more powerful throughout the novella. In Jekyll's confession it shows that Hyde had come out without drinking the potion, meaning that he started to grow stronger than Jekyll, the longer Jekyll repressed Hyde the stronger he got. The animalistic simile “ape-like fury” refers to the controversial belief of reputation, It shows that Hyde is “under evolved” and therefore acts on his primal, base evil thoughts. Stevenson might have wanted to use pathetic fallacy and animalistic language to show how Hyde grows throughout the novella in power and with exposure to the world.

To conclude, Stevenson uses repression and reputation within this novella to explore themes of science vs religion and dual nature. To show how a high class, high reputable lifestyle can only be sustained by austere rules and repression causing inner conflict which may explore deeper thoughts of mental illness. Stevenson uses this novella to explore how everyone has imperfections.


Thought id just post this on here, as it helped me through my actual gcse essay, I used this as a kind of template. I memorized some analysis and tailored points from it to my actual essays question. I gave this to many teachers and they all agreed that this would receive a 9, and would be beyond it. Anyways I hope this can help.

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