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How Does Stevenson's Use of Setting Develop Tension in the the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

  • Date Submitted: 03/17/2015 03:00 PM
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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a gothic mystery story written during the late 19th century. During this time many gothic fiction books being published have similar settings, from wild and remote landscapes to vulnerable heroines; from violent and erotic fantasies to supernatural and mysterious events. However, Stevenson brought all the horrors taking place in these distant and secluded countries to the center of London with two very different minds battling over the same body. Dr. Jekyll, the original owner of the body, is kind, well- liked and respected while Hyde, Jekyll darker half, is hideously deformed, murderous and cruel. These polar opposite personalities reflect the setting in the novel, Hyde represents the lower class, the dark grimy alleyways and the secrets held behind locked doors, whereas Jekyll symbolizes the upper wealthier class, the larger well-kept houses and professional elegance.
The detail that Stevenson's uses to describe London creates an overall impression that the city is full of threat, with supernatural beings and hideous abominations hiding in the deep shadows of the alleyways despite the small sections of beauty and optimism for example Regent's Park. Quite frequently Mr. Utterson experiences 'the faces of the fogged city moon' along with the 'low growl of London’ as he navigates his way through the 'labyrinths of [the] lamplighter city' and the dark streets blanketed in a dense fog, an accomplice to Hyde, hiding his evil deeds. The false sense of belief incorporated in the imagery, enhances the feeling of the lawyer being confused and quite fearful as he desperately tries the pry the truth from his friend Dr. Jekyll. The imagery creates visions of dark, winding streets full of danger in which little is seen allowing evil to be done.
Dr. Jekyll’s house reflects his status in society as gentleman of wealth and superiority, as well as the condition of his rapidly deteriorating...


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