The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Revision Notes. Why did Jekyll succumb to the temptations of sin?. “an impatient gaiety of disposition” “relentless pursuit of respectability” “a deeper trench of duality than in most men” “effort virtue and control”
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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeRevision NotesWhy did Jekyll succumb to the temptations of sin?
  • “an impatient gaiety of disposition”
  • “relentless pursuit of respectability”
  • “a deeper trench of duality than in most men”
  • “effort virtue and control”
  • “I concealed my pleasures and when I began to take stock of my progress and portion in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life”
  • “something incredibly sweet”
  • “I knew myself to be 10 times more wicked-and the thought braced and delighted me like wine”
  • Historical/Cultural Context
  • Calvanism - strict form of Protestant religion founded by Swiss reformer John Calvin 16th century-associated with moral restraint and demanded austerity and a grim respectability we have come to associate with Victorian times
  • Predestination-the Elect were certain people-known only to God-who would be granted entry to Heaven
  • Historical/Cultural Context
  • Sin included drinking, swearing, fornication, cutting your nails on a Sunday…! Repression leads to the swelling of forbidden appetites, hence Jekyll’s transformation into Hyde.
  • The underbelly of society-with its vice and hypocrisy-is explored in Jekyll and Hyde
  • The novel is set in London but reflects Stevenson’s experience of Edinburgh
  • Historical/Cultural Context
  • Appearance is an important feature of the story-the façade which conceals the reality is often important in this work of prose – note how the appearance of buildings often reflects the nature of the inhabitants
  • The story is a psychological exploration of evil and forces the reader to examine the nature of morality through its conflicting characters Jekyll and Hyde who are, as we know, representations of different moral extremes within the same man.
  • Multiple Narrators
  • This technique enhances the idea of group involvement, a sense of community responsibility into which we, as readers, are drawn to solve the mystery. Three narrative perspectives heighten the sense of suspense and allows gradual unravelling of the mystery:
  • The staid lawyer Mr Utterson
  • The scientific credibility offered by Dr. Lanyon
  • Finally…Jekyll’s confession, a frank account of the events from 1st person perspective
  • The character of Hyde
  • The two crimes witnessed by the reader are brutal and gratuitous-Stevenson suggests that there are many others
  • His ugliness is external and internal
  • Everyone who encounters him is filled with loathing and a desire to kill him yet no-one seems able to describe him after the event
  • Hyde has no conscience about the immoral acts he commits, unlike Jekyll
  • Hyde
  • “deformity without any nameable malformation”
  • “an odd subjective disturbance caused by his neighbourhood”
  • “Satan’s signature on his face”
  • “My devil had been long caged and it came out roaring”
  • “the slime of the pit”
  • “hardly human! Something troglodytic”
  • Temptation
  • The strictures of Victorian polite society can be seen to have caused Jekyll’s decline into chaos-he was unable to adhere to the demands of such rigorous morality
  • He is torn between his most innate, primal desires and the need to maintain a façade of respectability NOT necessarily a real wish to be good
  • Temptation
  • “relentless pursuit of respectability”
  • “The temptation of a discovery so singular and profound”
  • “an almost morbid sense of shame”
  • “If I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of sufferers also”
  • Even Utterson “dreaded the ghost of some old sin, the cancer of some concealed disgrace”
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