Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

Jekyll and Hyde as a Victorian Text

I never knew that¬†The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde¬† was a Victorian era short story, but now that I do, Victorian era themes are quite apparent throughout the story. One theme that is exceedingly present in the first two chapters is that of the supernatural. Although there are no explicit hints at the supernatural throughout the story, Stevenson includes some supernatural elements in order to make the ending less jarring. When Einfield describes his encounter with Mr. Hyde he claims: “He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. ” (Stevenson, 10). This is an unusual way to feel about someone, and Einfield’s inability to pinpoint what exactly is strange about Hyde hints that there is something not of this world at play. This is also seen when Utterson encounters Hyde: “There is something more, if I could find a name for it. God bless me, the man seems hardly human!” (Stevenson, 19). Utterson even goes as far as to classify Hyde as “hardly human” which hints even more heavily that something sinister may happen. These mentions, though, are subtle, and surrounded by decidedly normal text and happenings, with Utterson leading the reader to believe Hyde’s role is in the mundane blackmail. Including these subtle supernatural elements is an effective way for Stevenson to allow the reader to be surprised by the ending, while still feel like it did not come out of nowhere.

1 Comment

  1. I like how you connect typically Victorian elements with the narrative. Apart from Stevenson’s hints towards something supernatural by pointing to Hyde’s appearance, I feel like the author does something similiar by describing the narrative’s setting. Stevenson describes London as city from a nightmare, gloomy and foggy. Although this story is set in a modern Victorian city – instead of in an old mansion in an isolated moor – the atmosphere is undeniably gothic. By describing London in this way, the author creates the perfect setting for the supernatural happenings originating in Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory.

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