The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - MrsMillar-s5

Choose a novel or short story in which the method of
narration makes a major contribution to its impact.
Describe the method of narration and explain why you
feel it makes a major contribution to your appreciation
of the text as a whole.
 Understanding
 Featured forms of narration
 Different chapter structures
 How both the above impact on out interpretation of different
characters, setting, symbols and incidents in the story.
 Analysis
 Narrative voice
 Structure, the points where is changes and how the content changes
to take advantage of these changes in structure
 Analysis of the impact of the narration and structure on characters,
setting, symbols and incidents in the story.
 Evaluation
 Opinions on the effect of narration and structure on the reader
 Opinions on how this effects the reader’s interpretation on the
novella as a whole.
 Opinions on how this helps to convey aspects of key themes.
 Usual TARTS formula,
 Techniques should focus on narrative voice, narrators,
structure adopted in each chapter, overall structure of
the novella.
 Summary should be brief and slant towards the
perspectives and the lack of a linear structure.
 “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis
Stevenson is a novella where the method of narration has a major
impact on the reader’s appreciation of the novel. The novel is set
in Victorian London and focuses on Dr Jekyll, a middle aged and
highly respected man, who creates a potion that allows him to
transform in to another his alter-ego and evil self, Mr Hyde. This
alternative being allows Jekyll to explore his darker impulses
without harming his reputation. However Jekyll soon begins to
lose control of the situation. The nature of the relationship
between Jekyll and Hyde is a mystery for the most part of the
novella, with the structure mimicking that of an investigation.
Jekyll’s friend and lawyer, Mr Utterson leads the reader through
this, until a change in narrator and structure half way through the
text. The novel is therefore told in a non linear manner via the
perspective of several different characters. This has a massive
effect on the impact that the novella has on the reader as their
perspective on events changes depending on the narrator.
 Three different modes of narration
 Third person, led by Utterson – overview of the effect that this has on the
reader – distancing, formal, report-like. Interest is maintained due to the
intriguing nature of the mystery genre.
 Mention the fact that, rather aptly, (bearing in mind his profession, he leads the reader
through an investigation that focuses on the relations between Jekyll and Hyde. Give the
chapter titles as evidence (quotations) to demonstrate the structural aspects.
 First person from Dr Lanyon’s perspective in letter form – overview of the effect
that this has on the reader – more personal and engaging.
 Reveals the true nature of Jekyll and Hyde’s relationship and starts to cause the reader the
blame Jekyll.
 Letter form – hard evidence, permanent record, can’t be questioned because character has
already died.
 First person, finally from Dr Jekyll’s perspective in letter form.
 First hand account of all the events is finally provided in a very personal manner that
engages the reader an impacts on their view of Jekyll as a character.
 Letter form – hard evidence, permanent record, can’t be questioned because character has
already died.
 Make the link between the shift in the realistic theoretic explanation of events
and the structure/narration that is used to explore this and contrast with the
first person narration and letter format that is used to authenticate the
fantastic (unrealistic) content when it is finally revealed latterly.
 Dual narration of first and third person links with the theme of duality.
 First section of novel is third person narration from Utterson’s
Utterson is described in detail on the first page to establish trust in
this character. The characterisation also introduces the theme of
Quotations needs to address both points: “and though he enjoyed the
theatre, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years […] the last
good influence in the lives of down-going men.”
Explain why this makes the reader trust him: he’s not perfect, and we
can relate to him, he tries to help people, and he is a lawyer.
Explore why Utterson is the only character described in detail at the
outset, in terms of personality. He is required to lead the reader
through the investigation.
Explain how this helps to introduce the theme of duality and hypocrisy
which was rife at this time. Link to Jekyll’s own need to maintain a
respectable reputation. This provides the reader with a context for
Jeykll’s own actions.
 The first part of the story where Utterson introduces the
mysteries and leads us through investigations and hypotheses
is done in a formal and report-like manner.
 Select some of the mysteries that are introduced: Jekyll’s will
and absences, his connection with Hyde – reasons why Hyde is
unsavoury, the door (never knew it was part of his friend’s
house). [Quotations from the text may be useful here to
support your points]
 Effect – creates distance and acts as multiple framing
techniques which all are very plausible in nature. They distract
the reader from the fantastic truth.
 The structure of the first section of the novella set the reader up
to judge firstly Mr Hyde and subsequently Jekyll for what he has
 Various mysteries are introduced to the reader via the initial
third person perspective, most notably Jekyll’s connection with
Hyde and why he has made Hyde the sole benefactor of his will
not only in the case of death but also in the event of him
disappearing for a set period of time. Jekyll’s will states: “in the
cast of Dr Jekyll’s disappearance or unexplained absence for any
period exceeding three calendar months.” The third person
perspective focused on Utterson allows the reader to go through
Utterson’s various theories and distances us from the truth of the
connection between Jekyll and Hyde. This causes the reader to
judge Jekyll prematurely. We find out about the creation and use
of the potion prior to any information relating to his motivations
for doing so.
 I would expect to see at least one other example of a mystery that
is established in the initial stages of the novella.
Comment on the immediate effect of the change in narrative voice and style – third person to
first person, makes the narrative more engaging and personal.
Intrigue is already established because we are aware that Lanyon and Jekyll have had
disagreements “Jekyll became too fanciful for me. He began to go wrong” , “unscientific
balderdash”. We’re eager to discover his perspective on the events.
The very direct, personal nature, contrasts with the distancing of third person narrative that was
employed previously.
Provides an eye-witness account of the transformation – the connection between Jekyll and
Hyde is revealed for the first time and authenticated through the style of narrative [Quotations
– these should demonstrate Lanyon’s experience of the transformation and consider his
reactions which match those of the reader]
Answers some of the previously unexplained mysteries in the novel [the will and the connection
between Jekyll and Hyde, the reason that Lanyon and Jekyll ceased speaking etc.]
Note the change in content, from realistic to fantastical. The change in narrative structure helps
to make this work because it authenticates the content.
The balance between the horror of the content and structure adds authenticity. The letter is also
hard evidence that cannot be questioned. The character has also died since writing it, so there is
no way to question or gather further information. It needs to be accepted in its current form.
Lanyon is Jekyll’s friend of old, yet he clearly judges Jekyll. This impacts on the reader and makes
us judge him also. Comment on how the reader feels about Jekyll at this point.
 Title of the chapter – connotations, link to legal documents, helps to
authenticate because makes it seem like evidence. The letter format bolsters this.
Immediate sense of intrigue – reader finally hearing an account from the
character most directly involved.
Provides an insight into Jekyll’s true character [Quotations – duplicity- need
for liberation etc.]
Comment on how this changes our view of the character. Remember that the
narration is that has caused this impact and potential change in the reader’s view.
Reveals the true relationship between Jekyll and Hyde – characterisation
[Quotations should focus on the way that Hyde changes for Jekyll – “cloak” to
Comment on how this further generates sympathy for the character.
All of these make us see the whole story from the point of view of the person
most immediately involved.
He admits some guilt but asks us to see him also as a “victim” rather than a
criminal. How does the reader react to this?
Focus again on this being a letter, being read after his death, which effects our
interpretation. No further information can be gained – adds sincerity and
clarifies the motivation, which seem understandable – link to duality as a theme.
 Jekyll’s first person narrative is entitled “Henry Jekyll’s Full Statement of the Case” and
it immediately indicates that the reader will receive a full account from Henry Jekyll’s
perspective. The title of the chapter includes legal language and suggests that this is a
report from a key witness in a case. The reader is intrigued by this chapter as it is an
account from the character most directly involved and it suggests that the mysteries
within the novella will be answered. Jekyll’s narrative provides an insight into Jekyll’s
true character and also reveals the true relationship between Jekyll and Hyde. We come
to realise that Jekyll sought the answer to his "concealed [...] pleasures" giving a clear
insight into Jekyll's true character which was committed to a “duplicity of nature”.
Jekyll states that the thought of his new double sided life “braced and delighted me
like wine.” Imagery effectively clarifies that Hyde was another indulgence, as well as
wine, he should avoid. Jekyll initially uses Hyde as a disguise to carry out his unsavoury
urges and describes Hyde as being a "thick cloak" for him. In the beginning Hyde was
an escape for Jekyll, but as the end comes closer, Jekyll becomes the escape route for
Hyde revealing the true relationship between the two. Sympathy for Jekyll is gained by
the reader in this account as it becomes evident that he is in fact frightened of the
uncontrollable Hyde as Jekyll feels himself becoming “slowly incorporated” with his
“second and worse” proving the point that Hyde was out of control and Jekyll feared
his transformation. All of these make us see the whole story from the point of view of
the person most immediately involved. He admits some guilt but asks us to see him
also a victim rather than the criminal. This makes the reader feel a strong sense of
sympathy towards Jekyll as we have now been provided with an insight through the
narration and structure that reveals Jekyll’s motivations which seem understandable.
This allows us to empathise with him, rather than simply seeing him as a villain.
 First person confessional narrative, making it compelling and
convincing for the reader whilst establishing intrigue.
Gives the reader the sense that we are finding out what has
happened from the man himself. Like a key witness account in a
Leaving the most important character perspective until the end
maintains the suspense and tension.
Jekyll’s version of events provide answers for many of the
unexplained mysteries in the novella, provide examples.
Some mysteries remain. State what these are: Jekyll or Hyde
responsible for the suicide, what was the impurity that allowed
the transformations to take place.
the situation Jekyll is in at the end – i.e. although we know Hyde,
and therefore Jekyll too, is dead, we are left with Jekyll alive and
speaking to us: we are left to make our judgement on Jekyll and
what he has done: i.e. the theme of the relationship between
good and evil.
 Title, author, refer to question
 Sum up
 the different modes of narration and their effect on the
 The different structures and their effect on the reader
 how the combination of distancing and direct
engagement with the events and characters give us the
feel of a trial where we have to decide the degree of guilt,
 how your view of events and feelings towards the main
character changed throughout the novella
 Opinion on what impacted most on the reader’s view
of the text: structure, narration??
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