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Writer's Review - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Robert Louis Stevenson

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The critical-literary analyses offered by WriTribe are a thousand words long. Each has been compiled with the intention of providing writers not only with a general introduction to the works presented, but also to reveal the added value inherent in each of them.


1,000 words go far beyond mere criticism or superficial praise; they are intended to point you to one or more secret elements, showing you what narrative techniques are masterfully employed by the author of the work in question.


Written with the unique perspective of an author for authors, reviews aim to point out to you what added value you can glean from twenty literary classics. With this in mind, choosing the reading best suited to your need will prove much easier.


 

Cover of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson


The work at a glance

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from 1886, is a short novel set in Victorian-era London. It is a true classic of the horror and Gothic genre whose story is based on a mysterious case of split personality and the eternal struggle between good and evil. The main character is Dr. Henry Jekyll, an eminent scientist and respectable doctor obsessed with the idea of separating the two aspects of human nature: good and evil.


By experimenting with chemicals and certain drugs Jekyll develops a potion that allows him to transform himself into another person, thus becoming the evil Mr. Edward Hyde. In Hyde's shoes, Jekyll becomes a brutal and deformed being, utterly devoid of morality and prey to violent impulses. Hyde thus begins to commit increasingly heinous acts, throwing the entire society in which he lives into panic.


Meanwhile, Jekyll tries desperately to keep his dark side under control but the struggle to control the two forms of his personality becomes increasingly difficult. As the story develops, what is the mystery of the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde emerges. The narrative also unfolds through a series of testimonies and letters from various characters who try to understand the identity and what is the correlation between these two seemingly different individuals. The novel continues in a crescendo of tension and suspense, finally revealing the true nature of the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde and what are the consequences of Dr. Jekyll's actions in trying to manipulate human nature.


 

What you can learn from reading this work:


  1. Creation of a gothic setting

  2. Character duality and psychological analysis

  3. Stylistic innovation and establishment of the horror-gothic genre


 

Robert Louis Stevenson's narrative style is characterized by elegant and engaging prose, typical of the Gothic genre of the Victorian era. The manner and narrative skill with which the English author creates evocative atmospheres, generating continuous suspense and tension, is certainly worth keeping in mind in order to enrich scenes and descriptions with suggestions by harnessing the power of words to capture readers' imaginations.


Stevenson is also a master in characterizing characters and delving into their innermost psychological aspects, particularly in describing Jekyll's internal conflict between good and evil. In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson inserts a number of experimental and innovative plot elements -- starting with the invention of the chemical potion that creates a split personality -- that could stimulate people to explore original and even daring concepts for their own stories.


Not only that, by dealing with deep and complex themes such as the duality of man, understood as the opposition between good and evil, the nature of evil itself and the conception of a certain morality, the novel leads the reader to continuous reflections on universal themes, involving him or her more and more in the events of the protagonist(s).


This is also the case because human emotions are explored in a profound and at the same time realistic manner, while appealing to the imagination. Imbued with symbolism, the character of Mr. Hyde has become a veritable icon of evil and darkness. Through this figure, who has become somewhat legendary in his extreme evil, it is possible to understand how the use of powerful symbolism and the creation of such well-characterized characters, for better or worse, can profoundly influence the perception and interpretation of a story, enthralling the reader in their ambiguous affairs.


Stevenson, however, goes further, providing a subtle but significant social critique regarding hypocrisy and, again, the dualism of late 19th century Victorian society by questioning outward appearances and moral contradictions.


Finally, a further innovation that emerges is in the use of an original narrative structure based on testimonies, letters, and diaries of the characters involved in the story, a style that has become a model for other similar works and has had a lasting impact on precisely the literary form of the novel.


Conclusions

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has assumed significance in the history of literature because it is one of the earliest and most celebrated examples of the Gothic and horror genre, helping to consolidate and define it and thus influencing works in the area of mystery, horror and fantasy in numerous subsequent authors.


Dealing in an innovative way, as we have seen, with the theme of the duality of human beings, the novel still offers a careful analysis of the human psyche precisely by exploring the struggle between good and evil within a single individual.


This reflection on human psychology was also a novelty at the time providing a significant contribution in exploring the inner conflicts and complexities of the human mind present throughout the narrative arc.


Stevenson's tale also, thanks to the depiction of Hyde becoming an icon of evil, of the darkest part of the human soul as well as of the most hidden drives, had a significant cultural impact in later eras as well. In fact, the character of Hyde has been reinterpreted and quoted countless times in literary, theatrical, film, and television works, becoming a symbol of the darkness hidden in the human soul and the power of evil as opposed to good, and making the novel a landmark for popular culture and the general public as well.


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is thus a seminal work that has left an indelible imprint on the literary landscape and continues to be studied, adapted and appreciated for its complex themes, its profound and original psychological analysis of the duality of the human soul, a legacy that endures to this day. In fact, the novel has managed to have an enormous impact on popular culture and has inspired numerous reinterpretations, in theaters as well as on movie screens, still enthralling millions of readers even among the youngest and consolidating a genre previously considered minor, the horror-gothic, bringing it to the level of the classics of literature and the novel.

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