The following sample essay on ”Mystery and Suspense” is an analysis of “The Strange Case of Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
People are always drawn to the unknown. Human beings are hardwired to be mesmerized by magic, by the inexplicable, the ongoing debate about good vs. evil. Psychologists have been studying this for years now. They study how our brains release neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin when we are intensely emotional, like in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But back then, people didnt know all of this.
When this Stevenson published this odd and peculiar book, people really thought that it was true. This book has a moral behind it, a true meaning for it. The author is clever with the language he uses, the surroundings he picks and the specific words that sometimes, are polar opposites. He uses a lot of symbolism, trying for people to find meaning in the smallest little things, then again, it is human nature to do so.
When people in the 21st century read this book, it has a different impact than it did in the 1850s. At the time, London was a divided city; there were two major extremes between the people: the rich and the poor. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde both portray these two extremes. Jekyll lives in an upright area which has an air of invitation (Stevenson 5) and Hyde lives in a sinister block of buildings. (Stevenson 5)
Stevenson manipulates the setting of the story by making it either late at night or early in the morning.
This creates the type of atmosphere that you would usually want in this book, a ghostly and an unearthly one. It also creates suspense and mystery because its a rather eccentric way of having people walk out at three o clock of a black winter morning (Stevenson 7) As well as having Mr. Enfield tells a very odd story which makes the book have a bit of tension. He repeats street after street that raises the them of isolation in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Isolation, tension and manipulating the setting of this novel are not the only ways Stevenson includes mystery and suspense. What about all the lies and deceit that are here? Now, of course, one of the major lies in the novella is how Dr. Jekyll knows that he is Mr. Hyde. He lives with that day and night, but it affects one of his most trusted companions, Mr. Utterson. When he finds out, this comes as a big shock when he finds out that his friend has been lying to him for quite some time. And Dr. Lanyon, this surprise for him made him have a falling out with his respected friend.
Then he fell ill and died within days. Another famous example of lying is when Dr. Jekyll tells Mr. Utterson the moment I can choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde. This affects Dr. Jekyll because he knows that he is losing control, so he says this to reassure himself but really, he is lying to himself and to his friends, as well. He is giving himself false hope that this will work but in reality. Dr. Jekyll kept the secret about Mr. Hyde until the very end of the book, not through himself, but though a letter he wrote to Mr. Utterson. Stevenson uses this as a way to symbolize the real world too. At the time, people didnt know what to think because of the lack of scientific advancement.
A big part of the suspense element in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the titles of the book, and obviously what happens within the chapter. In the second chapter Search for Mr. Hyde the title builds up a certain sense of anticipation because, for the reader, its like a mystery. Like when the police search for someone thats on the run or has been kidnapped, but in this case, its due to the dual personality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The will in this chapter also plays a big role of the extreme mystery. This is because of Dr. Jekylls will states that all of his possessions shall be passed on to Mr. Hyde. This is one of the first clues that there is a relationship between the two of them. However, whats even more unusual is it says that if he has disappeared or had an unexplained absence for any period of time exceeding three months. This is another thing that gives the reader a sense of anticipation throughout the novella.
Stevenson is giving clues about what is going on and Mr. Utterson thinks that Hyde is blackmailing Dr. Jekyll. Hyde also has contradictions in himself, he is describing as timid and bold which is used as an oxymoron of the duality of his character. The chapter ends with the lawyer in very low spirits and not very many hopes. He feels forced to confront that he has also been responsible for some bad things in life, and this all creates suspense.