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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde narrative voice essay

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a novel with an interesting narrative style. The novel is a detective thriller told in a third person narrative over three ‘Acts’ from the viewpoint of Mr Utterson as he tries to unravel the strange connection between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The first two ‘Acts’ establish the problem of Mr Hyde’s identity and then show us the struggle to identify him. The final act reveals that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person is only revealed in the last two chapters which shift into first person letters – one a confession from Dr Lanyon, the other a confession from Dr Jekyll. We can take a look at how the narrative style is important to the plot for setting up a mystery and building tension.

First of all, we have described this as a piece of detective fiction and we can identify our viewpoint character, Mr Utterson as our detective. The opening of the novel focuses heavily on establishing Utterson as a trustworthy character. We need to trust our ‘detective’ if we are to read the book. Utterson has flaws, he has a ‘rugged countenance’ and seems stand-offish meaning he appears unapproachable and unsociable. However, we are also told “yet [he was] somehow loveable”. The word choice here of loveable suggests that many have found something to like in Mr Utterson, and he has proved himself a trust-worthy and loyal friend. In his opening paragraphs Stevenson uses his narrative style to clearly mark Utterson out as a dependable and human character and he is to become our lens on the story that is about to unfold. We will know nothing unless Utterson knows it also. The narration at the start of Chapter One ensures we trust Utterson completely.

The opening ‘Act’ is completed when the connection between Dr Jekyll and Hyde is marked. Mr Utterson returns to his study and pulls out Dr Jekyll’s will which informs Utterson to “quote from the will”. Utterson has always been curious about this instruction as he does not know who Hyde is and can only assume that it is someone blackmailing Dr Jekyll. Everything he has heard from Enfield about the ‘brute’ has only confirmed in his mind that there is some dire connection between the two men. The first Chapter is specially set up so that a mystery is established for Utterson (and us) to solve.
Stevenson then horrifies his audience and deepens the mystery when Hyde kills Sir Carew. There is no reason for Hyde to murder Carew, he was simply aggravated by the kind old man speaking to him in the street yet ‘with ape-like fury’ he ‘audibly shatters’ the man’s bones. Hyde appears exceptionally cruel here, the simile shows us how primal and animalistic his actions are, he acts like an ape without thought, the sound of the bones breaking places us in the scene and we feel sick at the thought of the noise. Furthermore though we struggle to work out why Hyde acts the way he does, what could drive a man to behave in such a way? What has happened in his past that would make him act like that? This spurs the narrative on as Stevenson has set up an actual murder case to be solved, we have our murderer but we are no closer to knowing why he did it or his connection to Jekyll but it seems more vital to find out now as Hyde has actually killed someone.

The tension begins to really build near the middle of the book through the narrative. In attempting to discover the connection between Hyde and Jekyll, Utterson discovers that they have the same handwriting or rather Jekyll has “forge[d] for a murderer!” Utterson cries out these words as though in pain, he cannot believe his friend is so involved with such a terrible man. We can also infer from the shock that runs through his statement that he desperately wants to find out the real connection between Jekyll and Hyde. What could possibly make such an established and reputable gentleman protect such a brutal and evil man? At this point in the novel, around ‘Act Two’, we feel impossibly far away from the truth. We are desperate, just like Utterson, to find out the truth about Mr Hyde and Dr Jekyll and the tension is at fever point.

In the final few chapters all is finally revealed and the tension is released. The narrative itself changes quickly in the last three chapters. Through Utterson we are told that Jekyll is in his room only to discover a dead Mr Hyde behind the locked door. The narrative then jumps to Dr Lanyon in the form of his last letter. He tells us he sees Mr Hyde transform, but won’t tell us into who, as he is to upset by it. Finally, in Dr Jekyll’s confessional letter we finally discover what we suspected all along – Jekyll is Hyde. He tells us that he “I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end”. In killing himself he rids the world of the evil Hyde and gets a sort of justice for all Hyde’s deeds. He also explains why he created Hyde – as an alter-ego to himself so he could do what he wanted outside the scrutiny of judgemental high society. We as the reader are finally satisfied as we get the confirmation we wanted over Hyde and Jekyll’s connection.

In summary, Stevenson has taken care over his narrative style in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to create a text which mystifies and thrills the reader. He creates a viewpoint character who we trust and follow, he creates a villainous character whose awful acts horrify us, he presents us with problems we can’t solve and then finally reveals all from the mouth of the villain himself. A truly interesting and captivating narrative style.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde setting essay

Choose a novel in which setting is an important feature.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a novel in which setting plays an important feature. In the book Dr Jekyll represents good and Mr Hyde represents evil, yet they are technically the same person and come to symbolise the good and evil in all of us. The novel is set in London but draws heavily on Stevenson’s knowledge of his hometown Edinburgh to create a chilling setting which emphasises the themes of good and evil.

Setting is most important as a symbol for the characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Jekyll owns a fancy town house with a tumble down lab on the back. The town house is described as having an ‘open fire’ in the front hall. This represents Jekyll as it is warm and inviting and hugely welcoming – all things that match Jekyll’s character. The fact that he can build a fire in his front hall and not just his main rooms suggests he is wealthy and likes to display his wealth. Again it is a symbol for the man himself. We are also told that the street on which his house sits is filled with similar houses – his though is the only one kept clean and tidy and whole, the rest have become slightly messy. This is in keeping with Jekyll’s character as we know he is concerned with his reputation and making himself look good to other people which his house certainly does. Hyde on the other hand is a secretive creature who doesn’t so much lurk in the shadows as lives only in the night. He doesn’t hide from other people but he doesn’t really interact with them either, or encourage interactions. The lab door sums up his character perfectly. Unlike the main house it juts out on an alley street, its windows are covered and the door bears no knocker and hasn’t been cleaned for entry. The windows emulate Hyde’s private nature, he doesn’t want people prying into his business. The lack of a knocker shows he doesn’t want or expect guests. The untidiness of the doorway similarly keeps people from visiting. The text also describes the lab as a ‘sinister block of buildings’ – there is something off about them, just like we are told there is something off or ‘deformed’ about Hyde’s appearance. Setting here, in the form of the house, serves to reinforce the characters of Hyde and Jekyll and further highlights the theme of good versus evil.

The Victorian London setting is important because it is what pushes Jekyll into making Hyde. Stevenson had apparently considered setting his tale in Edinburgh, with its sordid, poverty-stricken old town and glossy, illustrious new town making clear allusions to Jekyll and Hyde’s personalities again. However, in high London society a man’s reputation was everything and he had to behave. It is far easier to explain Jekyll’s actions against the backdrop of London society than Edinburgh’s. Jekyll is repressed by his lifestyle as a rich doctor, it is only as Hyde that he can do what he actually wants and so he creates Hyde. The setting is important here because it is what forces Jekyll’s hand into making an alternative persona for himself.

Setting is important in the initial chapters where Utterson’s dream makes the minotaur and his maze a metaphor for Hyde and his London. We have already had descriptions of Hyde as a ‘juggernaut’ something huge and threatening. This image is built up further with his comparison to the minotaur, a monstrous beast that was used to control and terrorise the Greek town of Minos. Hyde similarly terrorises the occupants of London as he will trample and destroy any who get in his way – the little girl and Sir Carew. London’s twisting medieval streets and fogged new streets become the maze in which the minotaur was kept. You never know when the minotaur or Hyde might appear to hurt you. Setting then becomes a metaphor for the playground of evil.

Setting is also important as Stevenson often uses dramatic epithet to show a change in the mood of a scene to show that something is about to happen. We are often told about the ‘rolling fog’ in the streets of London. It hides Hyde literally and cloaks the shady characters of the night. In the final chapters of the novel the fog becomes a horrible storm, rain lashes and the streets are empty. This adds a sense of foreboding as we know something is going to happen the streets are too physically quiet of people as if something bad is about to happen. Utterson is then escorted by Poole to Jekyll’s house and we finally discover that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person. Setting here was used to suggest and hint that the plot was about to take a turn for the worst.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde sample class essay

Choose a novel which explores an important theme. Show how the author has explored this theme.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a novel which explores the theme of good versus evil. We can look at how Stevenson develops this theme through his characters Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde and Mr Utterson.

The first time we see the theme of good versus evil is in the first chapter when a mysterious figure, Hyde, tramples a child in the street and shows no remorse. The text tells us that ‘the man trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground’. The word ‘trampled’ tells us how he walked over the child, the word ‘calmly’ makes this seem evil though because he is not bothered about his actions, even worse he ignores her ‘screams’ – a clear sign that she is in pain. This shows us Hyde is evil as a normal person would react to the injured child and help her and apologise – Hyde does none of this showing he is bad.

Another way in which the theme of good versus evil is explored is through the setting of Dr Jekyll’s house – the front represents Jekyll and the back Hyde. We are told Jekyll’s house has a ‘comfortable hall… warmed … by a bright open fire, and furnished with costly cabinets of oak’ whereas we are told the lab is a ‘certain sinister block of building’. Jekyll is quite a jolly person and we see this in his house – it is ‘comfortable’ meaning relaxed, it is ‘warmed’ suggesting it is inviting, and it is ‘open’ which bears connotations of an open personality. Hyde on the other hand is secretive and deformed which is encapsulated in the adjective ‘sinister’ to describe the lab. The front of the house represents Jekyll and therefore goodness and a good reputation and the lab represents Hyde and evil.

A third way in which we see good versus evil developed as a theme is when Hyde brutally murders Carew in public and in cold blood. We are told Hyde behaved ‘like a madman’ and we get a graphic description of Hyde with ‘ape-like fury’ ‘trampling his victim underfoot, and hailing down a storm of blows, under which bones were audibly shattered’. The simile at the start, ‘madman’ tells us he is psychotic and uncontrollable. This is reinforced with the second simile of ‘ape-like fury’ – he is animalistic. The description at the end is nauseating, we can easily picture and hear what is happening. The strength of the attack is given in the word ‘storm’ – Hyde is raging at Carew. This develops the theme of evil as Hyde’s attack was unprovoked, his reaction is instinctive and spurred by frustration, he does not think he merely acts on his whims.

Mr Utterson contributes to the theme of good versus evil as he attempts to protect Jekyll’s reputation through investigating Mr Hyde – there are several points where he should involve police but hides the truth instead. Mr Utterson realises Hyde and Jekyll have the same handwriting and he says ‘Henry Jekyll forge for a murderer!’ before his ‘blood ran cold’. This tells us that Utterson is scared for his friend, Jekyll’s compliance in faking Hyde’s writing shows he sides with the murderer. This shows us good versus evil as Jekyll has made the wrong decision in siding with Hyde and we see him sliding down the spectrum of behaviour towards evil.

The final way in which good versus evil is explored is Jekyll’s suicide at the end which kills both himself and Hyde showing the triumph of good. We are told in Jekyll’s own words that ‘I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end’ and we know that Utterson and Poole discover the body of Hyde from whom ‘life was quite gone’. Both characters are dead and at Jekyll’s decision, he concedes that his life has not been fun because of Hyde. We can see then that Jekyll in killing himself also kills Hyde, the symbols of good and evil are both dead for the greater good of ridding the world of Hyde.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde quotes

Here are some quotes to help you:

Chapter 1. Mr E tells Mr U about Mr H trampling the little girl

Cain’s heresy
[Utterson is] somehow loveable
the chief jewel of each week
Chanced on one of their rambles
turns sick and white with the desire to kill him

Chapter 2. Mr U looks at the will and meets Mr H

Murderous mixture of timidity and boldness
the ghost of some old sin
He was wild when he was young
black secrets

Chapter 3. Dr J seems to return to his old self

Man’s rich silence
large, well made, handsome, smooth, kindly face
[Jekyll calls Lanyon] An ignorant, blatant, hidebound pedant

Chapter 4. Mr H kills Sir C

Great flame of anger, ape-like fury, like a madman
[Hyde’s landlady is] ivory-faced and silvery haired
Blackguardly surroundings
unexpressed deformity

Chapter 5. Mr G reveals that Dr J and Mr H have similar handwriting

Deadly sick/feverish manner
changed voice

Chapter 6. Dr L says he knows a secret about Dr J before dying

Chief of sinners
chief of sufferers

Chapter 7. Mr U and Mr E see Dr J begin to transform

An answering horror in their eyes
red baize door

Chapter 8. Mr U and Mr P discover Mr H dead in the lab

Crushing anticipation of calamity
the two narratives in which this mystery be explained

Chapter 9. Dr L’s letter revealing that Dr J and Mr H are the same person

a new province of knowledge and avenues to fame and power
Stagger the unbelief of Satan
tears of penitence¬¬
transcendental medicine

Chapter 10. Dr J’s letter revealing the truth of his experiments

Morbid sense of shame
Profound duplicity of life
Primitive duality of man
[experiment was] towards the worse
The hate which now divided them was equal on both sides
[Hyde can spring] headlong into the sea of liberty

National 5: OcToBeR hOlIdAyS homework!

MWAHAHAHA! You thought you were getting away with no English homework, but that’s not the case. You need to practice those essays and so I would like each of you to pick two of the questions below and write a full essay for each. That means an introduction and five, yes five, PEEL paragraphs.
The PEEL questions are:

1) What is the technique/idea/feature you are focusing on in this paragraph?
2) What evidence do you have from the text to support this?
3) Explain how this evidence works or demonstrates your point?
4) So how does this answer your main question?

Right, here are your practice essay questions:

Choose a novel which explores an important theme. Show how the author has explored this theme.

Choose a novel in which the author creates a fascinating character. Show how the author has created this character and why you found them so fascinating.

Choose a novel in which the author uses a memorable narrative style. Explain how the features of the narrative technique contribute to the effectiveness of the text.

Choose a novel in which you feel sympathy with one of the main characters because of the hardships they face. Describe the problem the character faces and show how you are made to feel sympathy for them.

Chose a novel with a satisfactory ending. Explain why you find the ending satisfactory in bringing to a conclusion the main concerns of the text.

Chose a novel with an important human issue (i.e. conflict between good and evil). Show how the author reveals the issue through the portrayal of people and events throughout the text, and show your understanding of the issue deepened.

Choose a novel with a key incident. Give a brief account of the incident and show how this incident is important to the text as a whole.

Choose a novel in which there is a character involved in some form of conflict.
Show how the character comes to be involved in this conflict and how the conflict develops through the text.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Chapter 8 notes

Stevenson uses Poole and Jekyll’s other servants to build tension at the beginning of this chapter as he has them all collected together and frightened in the hallway. They are all freaked out and acting out of character. A maid is actually crying because she is so terrified. Poole’s actions are the weirdest. He usually appears controlled – here though he doesn’t finish sentences and his body language appears tense.

The setting and the weather at the start of chapter 8 contribute to the eerie atmosphere and doomed mood. We know something bad is going to happen. The night is silent and cold and the wind is up. We think something is out there waiting to jump out on Poole and Utterson.

All of Poole’s statements are explained away by Mr Utterson. This tells us that Utterson wants there to be a logical explanation for what is happening, no matter how unlikely them seem. He still wants to believe that Dr Jekyll is one person and not sharing a body with Mr Hyde.

Tension is created in Poole’s account of the man in the lab who ‘walks all day’ and cries out in the ‘quiet of the night’ as we wonder why this thing is pacing and what it is planning. The cries in the night would be shocking as they would startle you in your sleep. We are unsure if they are cries of pain or anger.

Stevenson creates sympathy for the thing in the lab in this chapter as we get a sense of how desperate Dr Jekyll /Mr Hyde must be. He keeps crying out. His voice is full of emotion when he talks to Poole.

Despite finding Hyde’s body at the end of the chapter some suspense still remains as we still need to find out how Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde came to be one person.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Building and Releasing the Tension


At the start of Chapter 2 we get the first paragraph concerning the will. It tells us that Hyde is a nasty man and we now think he is blackmailing Dr Jekyll.

The next thing to happen in this chapter is Mr Utterson’s ivsit to Dr Lanyon. We discover tha thte relationship between Dr Lanyon and Dr Jekyll has soured. We wonder why this has happened when they are supposed to be childhood friends. We are told that Lanyon now thinks of Jekyll as a ‘scientific heretic’.

Mr Utterson returns home and dreams of Mr Hyde and London. Mr Utterson couldn’t see Hyde’s face and the streets of London were unfamiliar and hidden by the fog. Children were harmed and Jekyll was stalked.

Mr Utterson continues to search for Mr Hyde and finally discovers him. We get a description of Hyde as a person. During the search period, Mr Utterson does nothing else, every spare minute goes towards finding Hyde. He has become obsessive and paranoid about Hyde. Hyde is described as grotesque and arrogant.

In chapter 3 Mr Utterson goes to speak to Dr Jekyll. Dr Jekyll is his usually cheery self until Hyde is mentioned, at which point he becomes snappish and changes the subject. We wonder why he will not be honest about his connection with Hyde.


Mr Utterson reveals the truth to us as he finds Hyde in the locked room where Dr Jekyll was. This is not unusual as he is the ‘detective’ figure in the novel and so he should be the one who reveals the truth.

The truth that is revealed is that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are the same person. If you were not familiar with the story this may have been difficult to work out as a lot of the clues were covered up, especially by Mr Utterson.

The truth is revealed in the lab. This is noteworthy as the lab is where the whole story begins. It is where Dr Jekyll first created Mr Hyde.

The truth is revealed after Dr Jekyll commits suicide.

It is important that the truth is revealed after Jekyll’s death as the news about his connection with Mr Hyde can no longer harm his living reputation.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde chapter 6 & 7

Hyde’s absence makes Jekyll ill and paranoid. When U goes to see him he becomes very agitated. We are told that he has hidden himself away in his lab. However eventually he becomes his old self again and he begins to socialise once more and throws parties.

Utterson is annoyed that Jekyll’s sociability is not maintained. He feels his friend has let him down in some way and he is frustrated that he has still not worked out what the connection between Mr H and Dr J is.

Lanyon has become incredibly ill too. He appears to be on death’s door. Something has given him a terrible fright. He has grown pale and has lost weight. He has aged and lost hair.

the mention of Dr J, Lanyon looks terrified and asks that U doesn’t talk about him. We are told his hand ‘trembled’ and that Dr J was now dead to him.

Lanyon’s reply to Utterson increases the mystery as we wonder what could have happened between Lanyon and Jekyll to cause such a break in the friendship. Utterson is confused as Mr Hyde doesn’t appear to be involved. He can only blame madness.

Our suspicions about Dr J have grown by the end of this chapter as he has locked himself away completely and refuses to see anyone.

The lines ‘the court was very cool and full of premature twilight, although the sky… was still bright’ suggests something bad was going to happen. There is a contrast between the summer sky of happiness and the dourness and secrecy of the street below. Stevenson uses the light here to alert us to the fact that something bad is about to happen.

Stevenson seems to want us to feel anxious for Dr J at this point. He appears at the window and something strange happens to him, causing him to disappear from sight. We know he has been cooped up for weeks. We are wondering what has gone wrong.

The chapter title ‘incident at the window’ implies an end has been reached – it suggests an event has happened. The end of the chapter, in which U and Enfield see something strange happen to Dr J, leaves us feeling uneasy. We are not told what has happened to Dr J and that leaves us with a sense that it is something really bad.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Chapter 5

The first clear description we get of the lab is that it is a ‘dingy windowless structure’. The word choice dingy suggests it is dirty or badly lit. If it is windowless then that would tie in with the lack of light. We are told by U that the place gives him a ‘sense of strangeness’. One feels out of place in this building. We are told the place is ‘silent’ which adds to this sensation of discomfort. It is also messy – there are packing creates everywhere and chemical apparatus. The windows are barred with iron giving one a sense of captivity. And weirdly there is fog outside which feels as if it has penetrated into the house making it cold and gloomy. This is not a happy place.

Jekyll becomes very ill as a result of the murder. He sits in his cabinet looking ‘deadly sick’. When speaking to U he claims that he ‘will never set eyes on [Mr H] again!’ This is ironic as he looks at Mr H every day in the mirror as Mr H is Dr J. There is also ambiguity in what Dr J tells U. he assures us that Mr H will never be heard from again but cannot tell us why this is so. He also claims that a letter was dropped off addressed to him. When U checks these facts with the butler, Poole, he is told that no one dropped off a letter. U is convinced that Dr J has been hiding Mr H in the cabinet the whole time.

We know Jekyll has lost his confidence as he gives U the letter from Mr H. He wants U to decide what should be done with it and whether the police should be informed or not.

Utterson is still suspicious of the letter and takes it to Guest. Do his comments satisfy his suspicions or increase it? Guest the clerk is an expert on handwriting. He tells U that the handwriting of Mr H and Dr J is the same, it is only the slant of the letters that has changed. U’s suspicions are increased.