Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Throughout the short story ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, the author Robert Stevenson portrays a mythical example of the duality of man, and the extents that can be gone to in order to hide truth. The story presents a classic case of good vs. evil, and shows that although all people contain capacities for good and evil, at the end of the day it’s the decisions a person makes that portray them as a “good” or “bad” person.
Reputation was everything in the late 19th century setting this book takes place in, and opens with an example of a man who is seen by the public as extremely well respected, yet has some sort of an alternative side to him where he likes to meddle in what is seen as dark.

“But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. “I incline to Cain’s heresy,” he used to say quaintly: “I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.”

“If he be Mr. Hyde,” he had thought, “I shall be Mr. Seek.”

These quotes, from Chapter 1 and 2 of Jr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, show Utterson’s pure curiosity towards darkness, even though he is seen as “pure” and well respected in society. This can be compared to society today, where people who have good standing in society sometimes love to meddle in things they aren’t supposed to, starting drama and spreading rumors. This is a large problem in today’s world, leading to misinformation and general distrust in society.

Lady Shallot: Isolation and Imagination

The plot of Lady Shallot focuses on a woman who has been cursed with loneliness and is confined to an island. The first two stanzas describe an imaginary place in which nature runs wild, and is close to Camelot, where King Arthur reigns. Lady Shalott is forever confined to her tower, and cannot look in the direction of Camelot because it is rumored that it will cause her to be cursed. This leaves her to weave her tapestries, forever imagining what the road leading to Camelot beholds. She people watches constantly, weaving tapestries of the beautiful sights she sees. What I believe this poem is really about is the concept of wanting what you can’t have. When goals set are too lofty and unrealistic, it leads to dangerous situations where you or others can get hurt.

“A longdrawn carol, mournful, holy,
She chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her eyes were darken’d wholly,
And her face sharpen’d slowly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot:
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water- side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.”

As shown towards the end of the poem , curiosity killed the cat in Lady Shallott’s case. This is a tale of warning, as Lady Shallot fell victim to temptation. She flew too close to the sun, and burnt up. It’s important to stay grounded in desires, wishes, and wants, especially when you know what you want could potentially hurt you.

Dracula: Sex and Power


“My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side. Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine—my creatures, to do my bidding and to be my jackals when I want to feed.” 

Throughout the 19th century novel Dracula written by Bram Stoker, there are many instances of sex and power intertwining, as well as separately. The basis of the story is a seductive vampire (Count Dracula) who preys on young women, in a time in which sexuality is extremely shunned in Victorian society. Women at this time were seen as pure only in the circumstances of having their virginity or through marriage, where they were being “saved” to be a man’s wife someday. Power is another large undertone in Dracula, as men during this time period were especially in a better position than women. Dracula is immortal, the greatest power of them all, he holds the ability to seduce and manipulate, as well as having an uncanny ability to use his powers for his own advantage. Dracula’s actions are a prime example of how when left unchecked, men’s sexual desires can become dangerously tied into gain of power in this period of time. When Dracula victimized Mina and Lucy, he took away their “purity” and led them into a lifestyle of having the possibility of greater “freedom” (they now have the ability to live forever), yet with greater social consequences.

Fear and Terror, Holmes has to take this seriously.

“It is fear, Mr. Holmes. It is terror.” She raised her veil as she spoke, and we could see that she was indeed in a pitiable state of agitation, her face all drawn and grey, with restless, frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features and figure were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her expression was weary and haggard.”

This specific passage in the text felt quite sensational, as this is the first instance in which we are able to gauge the magnitude of the problem that Ms. Stoner is facing. By the descriptive nature of the text we can infer that Ms. Stoner has obviously been very shaken up by what’s going on, and the premature grayness/ expression points to something serious. At this point in the story we can take these adjectives to be anything, which is what I consider to be the possibility of a monster or madness. From what we know about Sherlock Holmes stories in general, they usually deal with identifying problems and solving them in the name of social justice. He helps all kinds of people, and the mysteries he solves are not one that an average person would be able to crack. It must be a sensational problem in order for someone to go to him, and this problem turned out to be unsolvable to the nonwatchful eye. The words “It is fear Mr. Holmes. It is terror.”, followed by a description of a ghostly looking human is the definition of madness. I inferred that Holmes and Watson’s first impression of Ms. Stoner was one that pointed towards her having mental health problems, as they did not take the case seriously at first (jokes were mentioned) and Holmes didn’t fill in Watson as to what his thoughts were until later in the book once the premise of Ms. Stoner’s story became a reality. Meeting Dr. Roylott was a turning point in the story, as the way he was described was something of a very powerful person. This can also be considered sensational or mad, because he is seen as more than a normal man.

Secrets Never Truly Stay Secretive

There was not much in it; neither gold nor gems; only a baby’s little worsted shoe rolled up in a piece of paper, and a tiny lock of pale and silky yellow hair, evidently taken from a baby’s head. Phoebe’s eyes dilated as she examined the little packet. (Braddon, Project Gutenberg Online)

I noticed that this is our first encounter with what could be considered Lady Audley’s secret. Phoebe and Luke went snooping, and while Luke does not pay much attention to their findings other than what’s worth monetary value, Phoebe recognizes the significance of the little items hidden away in this little box.  The descriptiveness of the items she found seems to be significant, as the shoe is described as “worsted”, which I can infer means it has been worn and is no longer usable, and the hair lock is described as pale and silky. As Lady Audley is originally decribed as unbelievably beautiful, it can not come as such a surprise that the hair that is found is silky and blonde, which were both beauty standards for this time.  Another thing I noticed is that this little packet of emotionally important items was hidden away under gold and jewels, in a box that would be considered “important”.  The shoe was also rolled up in paper, meant to be hidden even more than normally.  There is repetition in the words little and tiny, giving significance to the magnitude of the items, as while they may be small physically, they mean a lot emotionally. Finding this box so early on in the novel can be seen as significant, as it may be foreshadowing to this secret eventually getting out or Lady Audley being questioned about a former life in which she was a part of.  What I’m really trying to say here is that I think these lines will end up being extremely significant in the overall plot of this novel (which spoiler alert; they are!).  A hidden secret found at the end of a chapter in a manner where someone was doing what they were not supposed to be is the definition of a set up for a larger plot in this story. These lines will prove to be either the downfall of Lady Audley and her new husband, a shameful moment in Lady Audley’s past, or a past life in which things were better for Lady Audley, something she keeps locked away in order to reminisce on (we all do this, think old birthday cards or letters from a former significant other).