Chapter Two – How does Stevenson create a sense of horror in the extract and the rest of the novel ?
At the beginning of the extract, Stevenson establishes a stereotypically Gothic atmosphere, with the “bells of the church” near Utterson’s house and the early hour of the morning. Mr Utterson in his bed is surrounded by “gross darkness”, metaphorically as well as physically. If Hyde was taken as an embodiment of evil, this relates to the surrounding darkness that is in Mr Utterson’s room, and in his mind as he “digs at the problem.”
Mr Utteron’s “curtained room” also has connotations of entrapment. The metaphors of houses and windows to represent a person’s psyche is prominent throughout the novella. The verb “enslaved” is used to described the effect of Hyde on Utterson’s imagination, the image of slavery is also supported by the “bondage” of Dr Jekyll to Hyde’s will. This immediately establishes Hyde as a powerful and malevolent being, creating an atmosphere of danger that such an evil being should wield such power.
The tale of Enfield has obviously had such an effect on Mr Utterson that he begins to obsess over Hyde in a “scroll of lighted pictures.” The image of the “nocturnal city” also has conventions of the Gothic and Horror genres . Elsewhere in the novella, the city is personified as “growling” and having “arteries,” comparing it to a living creature. In the presence of Hyde, it becomes “nocturnal,” showing the horrific effect on the whole city and not just the people within.
Stevenson’s image of the “running child” through the dark streets creates a sense of tension, opening questions to the reader. The fact that the child is “trod down” by the “human Juggernaut” implies the struggle between innocence and evil – this possibly has biblical connotations . Ultimately, Hyde as the “human Juggernaut” wins over and “passes on regardless of her screams.” Stevenson creates a sense of horror by Hyde’s callous indifference, and as Utterson’s dream goes on Hyde continues to “at every street-corner crush a child and leave her screaming.” Hyde almost becomes a material hyperbole, with his powers and actions to the extreme. The horrific murder of Danvers Carew later in the book mirrors the attack on the child. Danvers Carew is described as “an aged and beautiful gentleman with white hair”, having connotations of purity, and having “an innocent and old-world kindness of disposition.” Yet the innocence of the victim makes no difference to Hyde, as he breaks out in “a great flame of anger” ( implying his incendiary and Hell-like qualities.) The violent choice of verbs in the extract to describe the child’s injury, like “crushed,” are similar to the murder scene, with verbs such as “clubbed” and “trampled”. During the scene, Stevenson assaults all senses with the almost onomatopoeic description of “the bones audibly shattered.” This adds to the sense of horror in the novel that Hyde is capable of such atrocities, and the fact that his crime increases from trampling down to brutal murder shows his increasing strength and influence.
In the extract Utterson also visualises about the sleeping Jekyll in his “rich house”, happily dreaming but also seeming vulnerable. Then Hyde appears on the scene, “plucking apart the bed curtains”. The image of Hyde having permeated the innermost sanctum of Jekyll’s house ( and mind) is stereotypically a horrifying idea, as a place of safety is violated by malevolent Hyde, showing that Jekyll has no escape and that Hyde is a “figure to whom power is given.” This idea is reiterated later on by the fact that “Mr Hyde has a key” to Jekyll’s house – meaning that on a literal level, Hyde can enter any time he wants, but also that metaphorically Hyde has the key to Jekyll’s mind. Although Jekyll is not wholly blameless, as he “has really a very great interest” in Hyde and his double life, the idea of Jekyll being forced to “rise and do [Hyde’s] bidding” and being unable to defend his own psyche also creates a sense of horror.
The air of horror and gothic genre is suggested by the verb “haunted”, used to describe the effect of Hyde on Utterson who is “haunted all night” by his dream. This implies an air of the supernatural, and as Hyde is described in the metaphor as a “human Juggernaut” it shows the unstoppable force of evil on a psyche. Since Mr Utterson has not yet seen Hyde in the flesh, his dreams only feature the “figure of a man” or sometimes merely “the figure”. The face of Hyde is never seen, raising an air of mystery and traditional Gothic ideas of the supernatural and paranormal. Elsewhere in the novella Hyde is only described loosely, being “so ugly it brought the sweat out [on Enfield] like running,” described by the adjectives “ pale and dwarfish” and “particularly small and wicked looking.” However his face is never explicitly described, even when he turns to face Utterson later in the novella. This plays upon the instinctive human fear of the unknown. Not only in his dream does Utterson imagine the worst of Hyde, longing for the mystery to “lighten and roll away,” but the reader is allowed to let their own darker side of imagination create Hyde as they imagine him. One reading of this could be an attempt of Stevenson’s to show that everyone perceives evil in a different way. However Utterson feels “ a singularly strong almost inordinate curiosity to behold the features of the real Mr Hyde.” As Mr Hyde is possibly a metaphor for evil itself, this echoes Mr Utterson’s secret “envy” of the misdeeds of his clients. Yet knowledge has already proved dangerous for Mr Utterson – before knowing of Hyde’s wickedness he slept easily, but upon hearing of the tale the mere knowledge of Hyde contaminates Utterson’s mind. Stevenson raises the question of pursuing knowledge and whether it is any better than being innocent and unknowing. Incidentally, it is Jekyll’s own experiments and thirst for knowledge that seems to play a part in creating Hyde. A sense of unease is created, and concern for Utterson that he will not begin to fall down the same route. As the secrets and mysteries are unravelled, the horrifying truth is exposed, once again begging the question : would Utterson have been better off not knowing the real story ?
Later on through the book, the idea of Hyde being an unstoppable and destructive force continues. Not only does he possess “extraordinary quickness” and satanic qualities, but he continues to invade the most innermost parts of Jekyll’s psyche. He even begins to work against Jekyll, tearing up documents , burning letters and scrawling blasphemies. In his confession Jekyll admits “ the powers of Hyde seemed to have grown with the sickliness of Jekyll.” The notion of there not only being a dark side to ones psyche, but that it was liable to break out and take over at any time was a horrifying idea for the Victorian people. Much of the novella’s more violent images would have been extremely graphic and disturbing for Victorian society, hence the air of horror created then would have been even more so than in present day.
The air of horror is also shown as Hyde seems to increase in strength throughout the novella. At the beginning of the extract Stevenson portrays him as merely “walking swiftly”, then as “gliding stealthily,” implying a predatory and aggressive nature. Lastly he is seen as “moving the more swiftly, and still the more swiftly, even to dizziness.” The sentence length also gradually increases, with many commas and semi-colons, which increases the air of tension and seems to be building up to a climax. This shows his effect on Utterson, who is “baffled” by Hyde. As Hyde’s strength grows, so does his power to horrify and disgust all who see him. The “unimpressionable Enfield” feels a “spirit of enduring hatred” for Hyde, describing him repeatedly as “ a really damnable man” and “really like Satan.” The effect of Hyde on people seems to bring out their worst qualities, with a simile being used to describe the women “as wild as harpies”, the maid who sees the murder case “conceives a dislike for him” and even the doctor who treats the child, a man under the Hippocratic oath, is “sick and white with the desire to kill him.” Utterson himself, who has an “approved tolerance” for others, feels “unknown disgust, loathing, and fear,” having seen what he believes to be “Satan’s signature upon a face.” Inexplicable hatred follows Hyde wherever he goes, inviting the reader to also feel a loathing for Hyde and his deeds.
As a last blow, Stevenson seems to imply that Hyde is actually a real force. Utterson dreams of Hyde terrorising Jekyll in his bed – but in fact, Hyde is terrorising Utterson through his dark dreams and obsession to solve the mystery. Yet not only do the characters in the book suffer the presence of Hyde, but the original inspiration for the story came to Stevenson himself in a dream – whilst the subconscious overpowers the waking mind. It could be argued that Hyde also came to Stevenson in the dead of night, and implies that evil truly exists in us all, creating enough realism to lend the fiction a sense of horror. Hyde is described as “an insurgent horror knit closer to [Jekyll] than a wife … lying caged in the flesh.” The verb “caged” compared with Hyde “ breaking out of all bounds” show the dual nature of a person’s mind. When Hyde is described as gliding through the “labyrinths of the city,” an allusion is made to the classical Greek maze with a minotaur at its centre, a monster renowned for devouring humans. Similarly, Hyde is described as a “cancer”, eating away at human nature. Instead of the monster at the heart of a maze, he is metaphorically the monster in the middle of a mind, the dark side of a person’s psyche, and throughout the novella his actions and “insensate cruelty” creates a sense of horror, foreboding, and unease that he is liable to appear at any time.