The novella is set in Victorian London, specifically in Cavendish Square and Soho. Cavendish Square is the western section of London, a very much respectable area, renowned for its wealthy residents (like Dr Lanyon). Soho, however, was known for its poor housing, cheap restaurants and dubious pleasures, defiantly not an area any reputable gentleman would wish to be seen in. These areas are so close to each other, yet worlds apart. This suggests that even when youre surrounded by goodness, evil is lurking nearby.
This clear contrast also becomes evident in the appearance of Jekyll and Hydes front doors. Jekylls door is in good condition and carries a great air of wealth and comfort about it. Hydes door, however is blistered and distained, equipped with neither a bell nor a knocker. The front of Jekylls house looks very appealing and has a butler, however his back door has a decaying fa¯¿½ade and an air of negligence about it. The connection between the buildings corresponds to the difference of personas they represent. The buildings are adjoined, yet appear completely different depending on which side you look at it. This is a clear representation of Jekyll and Hydes relationship because the casual observer would not detect that the two opposing buildings are part of a whole.
Hydes evil nature is clearly shown in his physical appearance. He is described as repulsively ugly and deformed, small, shrunken and hairy. He has a displeasing smile and is portrayed as downright detestable. The fact that he is small could suggest that Jekylls evil side has been repressed for many years; therefore it hasnt been given the chance to grow. Everybody who sees Hyde describes hi as ugly and deformed, yet they cant identify exactly why. An impression of deformity without any malformation. There are no words that describe him, he is completely inhuman. Hydes visage is describes as Satans signature on a face. This is a strong link to the devil, which expresses the extent of his evilness. On the contrary, Dr Jekyll was a large, well made, smooth faced man of fifty. He was a well-respected gentleman, as suggested by his title, Dr.
In the Carew Muder Case the mystery deepens with the first fog of the season. In London at this time people used coal fired for heat and the smoke produced fog, which could last for months. For here it would be dark like the back-end of evening suggests to the reader that Mr Uttersons fate will darken with the weather. Stevenson uses this simile as an example of pathetic fallacy to represent evil. He also uses dreary words such as haggard, muddy and dismal, to give the scene a sense of mystery and weariness.
In The Last Night, Stevenson describes the setting as a wild, cold, seasonable night. This suggests that Utterson and Pooles night will be wild and eventful, yet cold and bleak. He uses personification such as the wind make talking difficult and flecked the blood into the face to create an atmosphere and frighten the reader. Stevensons use of pathetic fallacy throughout the novella gives us a clear impression of exactly how he wants his characters and setting to appear to the reader. For example, Jekyll is only seen in the daytime, which suggests a sense of goodness and purity, where as Hyde only appears at nighttime when it is dark, which symbolizes evil.
Edward Hyde fully expresses his evil nature at two main points in the novella: the trampling of a young girl and the vicious murder of an elderly politician. One black winder morning Hyde ran into a girl of about 8 or 10 and trampled calmly over the childs body and left her screaming. Nearly a year later, he was carrying a heavy rake and all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger. An old gentleman (Sir Danvers Carew), stepped back in shock, which caused Hyde to club him to the earth with ape like fury and then trample him to death. Both of these random monstrous attacks were on completely innocent people who did absolutely nothing to deserve it. This proves Hydes lack of any sense of morality and shows the full extent of his evilness.
Hydes attack of Sir Danvers Carew was an obvious, literal attack on the upper class, however Stevenson includes many subtle hints in the novella, which challenges Victorian society at that time. For example, the Victorian upper class society was very repressed and they never expressed any feelings or emotions. The men were all meant to be respectable, wealthy gentleman, however the fact they are associated with Soho suggests that maybe they are not so respectable, considering the number of brothels in Soho. The men in the novella are very much concerned with social class, as seen when Mr Enfield says we would make his name stick from one end of London to the other. Dr Jekyll himself was supposed to be a well-known, respectable doctor, however he had a dark, evil side to him yearning to come out in the body of Mr Hyde. Stevenson believed that Victorian Society at the time had a dual nature of both good and evil.
The novella contains all the typical elements of gothic literature, for example, hideous supernatural creatures, wild scientific experiments and good vs. evil. It is not written in chronological order, mainly due to the use of multiple narratives of Mr Utterson, Dr Lanyon and Dr Jekyll. This means the story is constantly moving backward and forwards in time, using multiple narrative forms (such as letters).
Stevensons overall message is conveying that everyone has a bit of evil in their nature, but it only comes out if we let it. Mr Hyde became so dominant over Dr Jekyll that he started to morph into him unconsciously in his sleep. This made the goodness in Jekyll become weaker, and Mr Hydes evilness become stronger. He admits this in his letter where he says, That I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated in my second and worse. We learn from the novella that we need to control ourselves and resist temptations, because if we dont fight them, they could take over.