The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde how does Stevenson present Dr Jekyll as a troubled character in chapter 7?
Stevenson presents Jekyll as almost evil in chapter 7. Jekyll is presented in complete contrast to how he is shown in the previous chapters. The mere sight of Jekyll and his facial expression “froze the very blood of the two gentlemen below’. Utterson and Enfield are severely affected by the look on Jekyll’s face and the presentation of him in this way makes him seem sinister and certainly very unpleasant.
This is ironic as just moments earlier Enfield makes a remark about the fact that it is impossible to see Mr Hyde and not feel nauseated. They then see Dr Jekyll and his face ‘froze the very blood’ of Utterson and Enfield’. Stevenson is foreshadowing here as later on we find out that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are actually the same person. When we read this we must also consider the Victorian readers belief in duality, the conception of humanity as dual in nature.
This idea and theme in the novel forces us to look back, even more so Victorian readers, and consider where this sense of duality first aroused and how long it has been going on for.
As the novel progresses we see Jekyll develop as an increasingly more troubled character. This really is linked to the arrival of Mr Hyde; it seems to the reader that ever since Hyde arrived it has had a negative effect on Jekyll and all of Hyde’s bad qualities are finding his way into Jekyll.
Hyde is presented as devilish and evil the same as we start to Jekyll being presented in chapter 7. Stevenson starts to really show Jekyll as possessing the same negative traits as Mr Hyde, ‘before the smile was struck out of his face and succeeded by an expression of such abject terror and despair.’ As a reader we start to wonder what the link is between Jekyll and Hyde, and why Jekyll is becoming increasingly more secretive and having a bad effect, similar to Hyde, on the people around him. When we read this novel we have to realize that a very key and prominent theme in Gothic novels is a sense of mystery, we as a modern reader of the novel no the ‘twist’ to the tale if you like. However at the time when this was first read the audience would have been unaware of the major turning point in the play. Stevenson structures the play very carefully to lure the reader in and almost tease them by refraining from giving away to many details to the reader. So one of the key ways Stevenson presents Jekyll as a trouble character is through his very clever structure of the novel.
In chapter 7 in particular Stevenson focuses on the setting and although not all the elements of a gothic setting are present some of the key aspects are very prominent in this extract in particular. Stevenson mentions that the court was, ‘a little damp, and full of premature twilight’. Stevenson is trying to build suspense in preparation for the revelation of Dr Jekyll’s changed character that we later witness. There is a very clever contrast with the setting of the court, showing the characters of Jekyll and Hyde. The ‘premature twilight’, contrasts with the bright sky that was ‘still bright with sunset’. Stevenson is showing the contrast of Jekyll and Hyde through the setting of the court, but he later reveals to us that Jekyll is becoming closer to Hyde. Then at the end of the chapter Stevenson goes back to the idea of evil promoted mainly by Hyde but now we are starting to see Jekyll creeping into this category. Stevenson cleverly presents the change in Jekyll’s character and him being increasingly troubled through the contrast between the start and the end of this chapter. At the start it seems there is still some of the original kind-hearted Jekyll but by then end we realize that that is all gone as Utterson and Enfield, ‘walked on once more in silence.’ Leaving us with little or no hope for Jekyll. This novel has all the elements of Gothic Horror, first of all it takes place in London a city renowned in Gothic Literature and also in Victorian Society as being a city of danger and two-sides. By day a bustling commercial city but at night everything happens behind closed doors in dark rooms, but also dark and disturbing crimes. In Victorian Society they would have been well aware of this especially being troubled by Jack the Ripper and that idea still playing on the people’s minds.
Stevenson uses many different techniques In order to emphasise Dr Jekyll as a troubled character. His structure means that we don’t discover all the facts at once, it takes time and we only get small snippets and ideas about Jekyll and his changing character. Stevenson also uses the setting of the novel to his advantage, showing the dangers and dark secrets that London has in store.