Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “The strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in 1886. It is thought to be an example of a ‘supernatural fiction’; this is when one of the characters goes against the laws of nature. The main themes are usually good and evil, hate and love. One of the characters tries to change from one state to another and this usually amuses the reader because in some way it crates tension, excitement, pity and terror as the characters struggle to change back to their normal natural self.
The novella was written during the reign of Queen Victoria. At this time, England was just industrialising and becoming powerful in both literature and technology. The people of the Victorian England were so vulnerable because they were forced to believe in Christianity and almost everyone practised it. They also believed that there was God and Satan. This encouraged writers to write horror novels. Most horror novels used to scare the Victorian readers because they used to have a character that opposed the readers believe or human nature like Hyde.
Stevenson creates horror in “The Strange case of Jekyll and Hyde” by exploring the duality of human nature. Firstly, Duality means two sides, two meanings, two behaviours or characteristics. While Human nature means an attribute that is only associated with human beings or behaviours, attitudes, emotions or physical appearance that is only associated with human beings. Duality of human nature means the two sides of human behaviour, attitude, emotions and physical appearance. Duality is created in many different characters but the main and obvious duality is in the characters of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. These characters inhabit one body but they are two dissimilar personalities. Dr Jekyll is spilt into two contrastive individuals who hold different attributes, perceptions and attitudes to life. Dr Jekyll is a kind, noble, honoured and respected doctor, while Mr Hyde is the Villain, ‘bad-guy’ and also the hidden side of Dr Jekyll character
All Gothic and horror Novels usually have a Gothic beast in them this is because the aim of all Gothic and horror novels is to terrify and instil fear in the reader’s mind and the best way this is accomplished is by including horrid and sordid creatures, characters or beasts into the novel. Beasts and horrid creatures create fear because of their physical appearance, actions and their interactions with others characters in the novel.
All Gothic beasts usually have some form of abnormality or deformity. This used to scare the readers of the Victorian times because they were very religious and they believed that Satan existed and is always associated all evil things, doings and characters. In drawings, the Victorians and even modern painters paint the devil as an evil, malignant and noxious villain especially as a beast to represent him as the bad guy or bad personality.
Most gothic beasts for example, Dracula, Frankenstein or Mr Hyde usually have meaning to their names which is either associated with evil, death, blood or the devil himself. Some popular gothic beasts are listed below: Dracula from the Oxford Advanced dictionary means a person of grotesque, terrifying or savaging character. This meaning could be likened to his personality and attitudes. Dracula is a vicious, deadly, vampire who is supposed to leave his grave at night to suck the blood of sleeping people. He is represented as a human figure with long canine teeth. Frankenstein means a terrible creation; a thing that becomes terrifying to its creator. He is represented as a human with a face sewn together. Hyde means an unsuspected or hidden evil side to a person’s character. It could also mean a shadow of someone’s wrong and evil doings. This can also be likened to his personality and attitudes because Mr Hyde is the evil personality to Dr Jekyll who is a nice, respectable and loving man. Mr Hyde is very cunning, fast and quickly covers up his wrong doings and actions and he’s also an uncontrollable character. He is represented as a human who has some form of deformity with “no face”.
All the Gothic beasts mentioned above all have meanings to their names, which correlate with their behaviours and attitudes. They are also represented as humans because it is scarier. The readers would expect a human being to be normal, sentimental and emotional just like they are and since the character is exactly the opposite of what they think a human should be, the readers become frightened and scared of the character.
All Gothic beasts usually have evil intensions. Dracula kills people for their blood and to feed on them. Frankenstein kills people just because he was rejected and disowned by his creator. Mr Hyde kills people to satisfy his evil desire.
The main theme of the book ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ is Horror and exploring the duality of human nature – good and bad, does this well. Dr Jekyll represents the good aspect to human nature and Mr Hyde represents the bad side of human nature.
The title of the book ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is an example of juxtaposition because Dr Jekyll is a nice, young, caring and virtuous man but Mr Hyde is a sordid, deformed, merciless and cunning character just like the devil. This title makes the readers realise that there is a relationship between them “and” which creates suspense and Tension because it is quite devastating for two opposite things (good and bad) of different nature to be closely related to each other.