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Robert Louis Stevenson's means of communicating the story of Jekyll and Hyde is through writing it as a full length narrative. It is revealed that Stevenson first received the idea for the plot through a dream "I had long been trying to write a story on that strong sense of man's double being â€¦ For two days I went about racking my brains for a plot of any sort; and on the second night I dreamed the scene at the window, and a scene afterwards split in two, in which Hyde for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers." Due to his wife's criticism of his draft, he eventually burns this first copy and starts anew on this novella that was soon published within ten weeks. The novella is composed of ten chapters and is presented by an anonymous narrator who speaks in the third person point of view. However, the last two chapters are narrated by Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll in a letter format. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has also been adapted to other mediums also.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is composed of multiple content-specific sub genres. The beginning of the novel makes the novella a detective type of story in which Mr. Utterson is trying to seek the truth. The core of the novel revolves around the mystery of who exactly is Mr. Hyde and what is his relationship to Dr. Jekyll. It also contains elements of science fiction in which the scientific experiments eventually lead to the creation of the dark side of Dr. Jekyll. The novella also contains many elements of gothic fiction such as the supernatural happenings, horrific events, the ruins of buildings, the dark passageways which gives reader a feeling that something is just not right. Most of the novel is set during the night filled with uncanny events which provides a connotation that makes the novella even more mysterious and eerie. Stevenson's use of these sub genres provides reader with the suspense and the knowledge that something was peculiar about all these mishap.
Point of view
Throughout almost the entire novella, the story is told in a third person limited point of view. It follows the character of Mr. Utterson though some character's narratives are also integrated into his point of view such as Mr. Enfield's story, the maid's and Poole's account. By all these accounts, the story is more believable as different perspectives are shown. At the end of the novella, Dr. Lanyon's and Dr. Jekyll's letters are in the first person format, though Mr. Utterson is the person that actually reads it. The shift in point of view finally unravels everything and the truth is finally discovered. The story is formatted in a way that provides suspense. The information of what readers knows are limited in which it is told through Mr. Utterson's view. The audiences are only discovering the truth as it is slowly being unveiled to Mr. Utterson. It provides readers with the curiosity about the events happening and the eagerness to know what exactly is going on. If it were told through Jekyll's point of view, the suspense would be minimized and it would not have provided the full effect of the mysterious, gothic novella and the curiosity would not have arisen.
There are many symbolism incorporated into this novella. Some symbols throughout the novel include:
Jekyll's house vs. Laboratory
" Round the corner from the by street, there was a square of ancient, handsome housesâ€¦one house, however, second from the corner, was still occupied entire and at the door of this, which wore great air of wealth and comfort" (Stevenson 18). Jekyll is the upright, moral person who engages in dinner parties and provides a pleasant company compared to Hyde. Stevenson uses the house to embody the righteous character of Jekyll "wealth and comfort". The laboratory on the other hand is portrayed as decaying in a rundown neighborhood. The laboratory is an embodiment of the character of Hyde. He's portrayed as the darker, unknown side of Jekyll.
The passageway of the laboratory to Jekyll's house shows the connection between Jekyll and Hyde. From the appearance, it seems as if Jekyll's house has no association with Hyde's; Jekyll's house has a warm welcome while Hyde is in a decaying neighborhood. Slowly, it is known that through this secret passageway, Jekyll's house is literally and figuratively connected to the laboratory. Both characters are portrayed as polar opposites and the idea that they are connected in any way is highly unlikely. It isn't until the end that readers uncover the truth. Another way to look at the passageway as symbolic is that both Hyde and Jekyll are the only ones that walk through this passageway. It shows how Jekyll is the only ones that links him to the evil or the goodness that he possesses. By enabling Hyde to walk through this passageway, Jekyll has paved the way for evil to come out.
Hyde's physical appearance
Hyde's physical appearance brings a sense of hatred to anyone that encounters him. "I had taken a loathing to my gentlemen at first sight" "Mr. Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had born himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture."(Stevenson 18) Just like his appearance, his ethic seems to spur from it. The repulsiveness from his features reflects the type of character he embodies, a character with malicious intents.