After finishing the “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde” I believe that Stevenson was attempting to portray the duality of human nature as well as the natural internal human struggle between good and evil through the characters of Jekyll and Hyde. This idea is very clear from the start of the story as Dr. Jekyll develops a potion that transforms him from a well respected scientist into a morally corrupt monster that taps into his deep sinister desires. One quote from the text where this idea is very prevalent comes when Dr.Jekyll is explaining the reasoning for creating this dual identity, “Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures; and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of me. Many a man would have even blazoned such irregularities as I was guilty of; but from the high views that I had set before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame” (50) For me this clearly represents the duality of human nature and Dr.Jekyll’s inability to showcase his true persona and beliefs out of fear for being judged and scrutinized by the public. This theme continues to persist throughout the novel as Dr.Jekyll begins to lose control of Mr.Hyde and the urges and temptations from the “evil side” of his persona ultimately overwhelm and drown out Dr. Jekyll, leading to him committing suicide in order to prevent the dangers that Dr.Hyde posed to society. This ending perfectly wraps up the novel and ties together the idea about the duality of human nature and how sometimes individuals are unable to win the battle of the mind or the battle between good and evil. Dr. Jekyll and Dr.Hyde clearly represent the natural duality of human nature and the difficulties that many individuals have attempting to maintain a balance between the two sides while not succumbing to complete madness like Jekyll ultimately does.
I believe that the poem “The Lady of Shallot” is a cautionary tale that illustrates the dangers and sadness of living separate from life’s true experiences. Throughout the poem there are countless examples of the lady viewing the beauties of the world through her mirror as she is stuck observing but never interacting with the beauty that she is surrounded by. This can be seen in part two of the poem when Lady Shallot is contemplating the world outside her tower.
“And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.”
This is a fantastic use of imagery by the author as the description of the Lady as a bold seer in a trance implies that she is simply an observer who is separated from the beauty and joy of what a real life is supposed to be. I also think that this sadness and separation from the outside world is what ultimately compels the Lady to break the curse and look directly at the Camelot leading to her unfortunate demise. Another quote that clearly showcases Lady Camelots displeasure with her current way of life comes in part three of the poem when she says “I am half-sick of shadows,” for me this continues to reinforce the idea of the incompleteness and dissatisfaction of Lady Camelots life and her desire to live a more complete life outside the confines of her tower.
In the end I believe that this poem was written in order to illustrate the dangers of living a life where you are unable to witness and participate in all of life and natures beauty. I also am of the view that Lady Camelot’s desperation to break out of this cycle sends a strong message about the importance of enjoying the many privileges that life provides for you.
Throughout the first eleven chapters of Dracula there have been a number of reoccurring themes and messages. What I want to draw your attention to is the character of Dracula and how Stoker uses him as a vessel to write about the cultural anxieties and fears that many people felt especially in regard to their view of sexuality, and foreigners. I believe that Stoker uses Dracula as a symbol for social anxieties in the nineteenth century. One of the biggest fears in Europe in the nineteenth was a fear of immigrants coming into your country as well as a fear of foreigners especially Eastern Europeans. This can be seen early on in the novel when Jonathan Harker first travels to Transylvania to meet Count Dracula. As he is traveling there he starts to feel uneasy and paranoid as he says “, “I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool,” For me this reaffirms my thesis about how people in the nineteenth century especially those from the UK viewed many foreigners as strange and in a sense not even human. The use of the word superstition absolutely confirms the negative stereotypes that many people across Europe felt towards foreigners, and I believe that Dracula is a symbol used by Stoker to manifest the images of what many people believed immigrants to be. Another reoccurring theme in the novel that is the sexualizing of Dracula and the other vampires. This is especially prominent in the scene when Jonathan encounters one of the female vampires. “The fair girl went on her knees and bent over me, fairly gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck, she actually licked her lips like an animal…” This quote clearly represents how Dracula and the other vampires sexualization is used as a reflection of the Victorian era’s sexual repression and treatment of women. In the end Dracula’s character is really a symbol to illustrate the fears and thoughts of many people in the Victorian era.
The Piece of text I chose to analyze for this blog post comes from the short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the Speckled Band. The specific quote that I feel sheds light on what is going to come in the story comes in the first paragraph when Holmes is initially describing the case. He says “It is perhaps as well that the facts should now come to light, for I have reasons to know there are widespread rumours as to the death of Dr. Grimesby Roylott which tends to make the matter even more terrible than the truth.” The first thing that sticks out to mw is the intrigue that this statement gives the reader at the start of the book. By claiming that the rumors of his death are far worse than what actually happened makes us the readers believe that a terrible fate awaits Dr. Roylott. Not only that but for me this goes back to a similar theme of most sensation novels that I have come across. The idea of the outrageous and the overexaggerated is so clear to me in this instance especially in the latter part of the quote when Holmes speaks about how the matter may be even more terrible than the truth. Drawing back to Lady Audley’s secret this sentence led me to believe that something quite sinister and quite frankly ridiculous will go down regarding Dr. Roylott.
This story was a perfect example of what a sensation piece should be as it grabbed my attention from the very start and perfectly leaned into the ridiculousness of what makes a sensation piece great. This quote by Watson and the foreshadowing of the sensitization of Roylott and his actions had me expecting something insane which Doyle indeed delivered, upon.
“Yes, the painter must have been a pre-Raphaelite. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have painted, hair by hair, those feathery masses of ringlets, with every glimmer of gold, and every shadow of pale brown. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have so exaggerated every attribute of that delicate face as to give a lurid brightness to the blonde complexion, and a strange, sinister light to the deep blue eyes. No one but a pre-Raphaelite could have given to that pretty pouting mouth the hard and almost wicked look it had in the portrait. It was so like, and yet so unlike. It was as if you had burned strange-colored fires before my lady’s face, and by their influence brought out new lines and new expressions never seen in it before. The perfection of feature, the brilliancy of coloring, were there; but I suppose the painter had copied quaint mediaeval monstrosities until his brain had grown bewildered, for my lady, in his portrait of her, had something of the aspect of a beautiful fiend. Her crimson dress, exaggerated like all the rest in this strange picture, hung about her in folds that looked like flames, her fair head peeping out of the lurid mass of color as if out of a raging furnace. Indeed the crimson dress, the sunshine on the face, the red gold gleaming in the yellow hair, the ripe scarlet of the pouting lips, the glowing colors of each accessory of the minutely painted background, all combined to render the first effect of the painting by no means an agreeable one.” (Chapter 8)
In this excerpt from chapter eight George Talboys is examining the portrait of Lady Audley, analyzing in detail the features and feeling that the image provokes from him. In the first sentence George notes that the painter must have been a pre- Raphaelite. A pre- Raphaelite, were a group of painters who returned to renaissance style painting which focused on detail and the utilization of bright, vibrant colors. One of the main reoccurring themes in this excerpt was the way Talboy’s speaks about how the color and detail in the portrait evokes a sense of uneasiness. This starts when he speaks about the contrast in color of the hair in the Portrait. He compares the gold to the shadow of the pale brown. Talboys continues with this theme when he describes her eyes in the portrait, the dark deep blue eyes although beautiful in art come across as sinister and wicked due to the combination of different colors in the portrait. Another theme that I noticed was the repeating mention of red in the description. In the second half of the excerpt the color red or images that you associate with the color is brought up numerous times. The crimson dress that looked like flames, the red gold gleam, and the ripe scarlet lip all remind me of a dark red color. Traditionally I associate the color red with evil and darkness, by constantly using this color I believe the author was trying to foreshadow the wickedness of Lady Audley as well as to reinforce the uneasiness that many characters feel when being around her.
Although the portrait was beautifully constructed in an artistic sense, Talboys can’t help but feel thrown off by the image. The use of these colors in the portrait creates an uncomfortable aura around Lady Audley that sets the tone for her character as the novel moves forward. Despite the natural beauty of Lady Audley this portrait and its utilization of color make it clear that something sinister lurks behind her beauty.