Explore the fear of the foreigner or outsider
in one or more module texts.

 

The fear of foreigners or the outsiders is an important aspect of many different
texts, most often within the Gothic genre of this module. An example of a text
that depicts this theme clearly is that of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This
novel explores a mystery surrounding both who the foreigner of Mr. Hyde is and
a series of mysterious events including a case of murder within the city. The
novel itself follows Mr. Utterson in his attempt to solve the mystery that is ultimately
Mr. Hyde. It is eventually revealed that Hyde is the evil alter ego of Dr.
Jekyll who was separated from him by science and by the use of a chemical
potion. Through many different techniques, Stevenson encourages the outcast of Mr.
Hyde out with the upper-class society in which the novel takes place mostly
within. Techniques such as characterization and duality are the most
significant in causing the view of Hyde being the outsider and the fear that he
causes. Duality is a significant technique as it shows the theme of the
division between the classes and, also, the theme of good and evil. Thus,
creating the division of characters and Hyde, but, also, further enhancing the
fear that surrounds the character. This essay aims to explore Stevenson’s
methods and discuss the different aspects throughout the text that encourages this
viewpoint.

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Stevenson uses many different techniques in his attempt to single out
Mr. Hyde as the outcast within the society and to, importantly, create a sense
of mystery and fear that would surround him within this novel. A significant
technique used by the author is the characterization of Mr. Hyde as a whole.
The Character of Mr. Hyde ultimately represents the personification of evilness
and bad qualities as a whole. Following the experiment in which separates Dr.
Jekyll, with his good qualities, from the wicked Mr. Hyde who received all of
the dislikeable qualities of the original Dr. Jekyll, Hyde becomes a
terrifying, animalistic being that strikes fear into many. The animalist
characterization and similarities of Hyde are expressed throughout the novel. A
specific example of this technique used by Stevenson is that of his use of “Snarled”
when discussing how Hyde would laugh then it would turn to this noise as he
escaped the outside world, and escaped that of the questions from Mr. Utterson,
and resorts back into the safety and seclusion his house1.
This word choice is effective in that it describes the character as animal-like,
similar to the qualities expected of an angry dog in his actions towards the
man. Prior to this event, at the beginning of the novel, Hyde’s appearance is
partially described. Mr. Enfield describes to Mr. Utterson, while recalling the
event with Mr. Hyde walking into, and over the young girl, the real extent of
Hyde’s hideous appearance. This is expressed within the novel with there being
“something wrong with his appearance, something displeasing, something
downright detestable”, thus showing that even his image was something evil and
abnormal, something that would create fear in many2.
However, throughout the novel, on many occasions, people tend to forget the
exact features of Hyde’s horrific appearance when describing him to others with
only discussing his overall appearance as something undesirable. A potential
reason suggested for this is that, due to Hyde representing the embodied evil
of one’s personality, people refuse to acknowledge the features of Hyde within themselves
so do not acknowledge the physical qualities or characteristics of the real Mr.
Hyde3.
Thus showing the importance of appearance on impacting the character of Hyde
within the text. Therefore, making the author’s use of characterization in
relation to Mr. Hyde, very important in that it ultimately creates the
perception of an evil, animalistic being just from the description of his
character, and not from the evil deeds that he has committed. This overall
isolates the character and creates the fear within other characters that
further causes the character to be an outsider of society.

 

Another influential technique used by Stevenson within this text is the
theme of duality that runs as a constant throughout the novel. Duality means
that there are two of the specific examples such as individuals, often tending
to be the polar opposites of the other, such as the examples that are given
within this text. Firstly, duality is used in many ways throughout this novel,
however, its use to single out Mr. Hyde and cause him to be the foreigner, is
most significant. A method, in which Stevenson creates this divide between Mr.
Hyde and the other characters of the text, is through class and social
standing. The class divide is an important underlying theme within the text
itself and aids in the segregation of Mr. Hyde. All throughout the novel, there
is the idea of the luxuries that both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Utterson have. An
example of such is that Utterson describes Dr. Jekyll’s house as having “a
great air of wealth and comfort” within it4.
This idea of luxury and wealth continues with his discussion of the luxurious furnishings
of oak and the fireplace within one of Jekyll’s rooms within his house5.
`This creates the position of Jekyll as being of the upper class with
significant social standing, alongside having an important profession. Alongside
the wealth, these characters also all have important professions such as
lawyers and doctors for example, which also encourages them to be members of
the elite social class. However, Mr. Hyde represents the opposite of this state
of luxury and social standing. As mentioned prior to this, Hyde himself is described
with animalistic qualities and his appearance is undesirable, which contrasts
with the proper, well-behaved upper-class men of the text, who are well dressed.
This shows the duality of the nature of these men. Hyde, also, is described as
living in an area that is so different to these men. Mr. Utterson, when
attempting to find Hyde’s dwelling, describes the area with it being “a dingy
street”6.
This shows that the street, due to it not being to his standards, repulses Mr.
Utterson. Another example of this repulsion is that Hyde’s workstation of the
Laboratory on Dr. Jekyll’s property is also very dark and run-down, without
windows, similar to that of his street7.
This workplace to does not coincide with the specific ideals that surround the
wealthy men of the text. It can be viewed that these dark, fearful places may,
in fact, mirror the character of Mr. Hyde and his personal traits. With these
distinct differences in home and work settings, this furthers the idea of the obvious
class division with Hyde being segregated to these distinctly dreary, run-down
areas and not being associated with the lavish, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Utterson. Thus making the areas themselves significant in creating a class
divide. Therefore, making the theme of class division an overall important feature
as it furthers this divide of Hyde and the characters, which ultimately makes
Hyde the obvious outsider. The use of duality with the polar opposites of the
luxurious and the dingy is important in this division also as it furthers this
divide.

 

The author’s use of duality, as previously mentioned, is significant in
creating Hyde as the outcast. Stevenson uses the theme of duality multiple times
throughout the novel. Another example of this use is through the physical
duality of the characters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With the novel, Dr. Jekyll
chooses to scientifically divide himself into two separate personas. The
personas, as mentioned before, are the good qualities and traits with Dr.
Jekyll, and the evil, undesirable traits being given to Mr. Hyde. The contrast
between the personalities of these two individuals is clear throughout the
text. Jekyll is described as being charitable, with him admitting that he has
done many things for people. However, this is alongside admitting that he is
attempting to repent of his wrongdoings and his sins. Mr. Hyde, on the other
hand, is viewed as entirely evil. An important example of this is the instance
in which Hyde attacks the other man, that the maid views. Without considering
the act itself, the maid’s description of Hyde shows clearly the anger and
ferociousness of this man. She describes Mr. Hyde with phrases such as “madman”
and him having an “ape-like fury” which clearly shows the rage that this man is
capable of8.
Hyde has had many instances in which are deemed evil with the case of him
running down the young girl and attacking the man. Thus, showing how evil and
monstrous this man is. Overall the division between these two men is clear. Dr.
Jekyll himself describes the evident contrast within people with “all human
beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil”9.
However, the revelation of Dr. Jekyll’s true personality is eventually revealed.
Mr. Hyde is not entirely the creation of Dr. Jekyll but is his physical alter
ego that has been separated through science. This is important to remember as
once the evilness of Hyde was previously within Dr. Jekyll, which supports the
previous quote, in relation to a single person’s personal battle with good and evil.
With the separation of the two personas, it has been though that the creation
of Hyde, and the issues he caused, would have unlikely have happened “had the
Victorian ideal been less hypocritically ideal or had Dr. Jekyll been content
with a less perfect public reputation”10.
This is significant as the creation of Hyde was to allow for the original Dr.
Jekyll to be good and to continue with his positive, helpful appearance. This
suggests vanity, however, and that appearance is important within this era and
that he wishes to continue with this appearance of him being a righteous,
charitable person without these undesirable traits. This, also, supports the
exclusion of Hyde due to his appearance completely differing from the
appearance of the upper class. Overall, however, the separation between good
and evil, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is an important theme that runs
alongside the theme of duality with it making the existence of both beings an
influential factor in causing Hyde to be viewed as the outsider and a creature
that is to be feared due to his association with extreme anger and animal like
qualities.

 

It is very obvious that there are many different themes that are used by
the author, throughout this text. The most important, clearly, is Stevenson’s
use of duality. This theme is then divided further into sub-themes that each encourages
Hyde as the outsider and to further this fear. This theme is broken down into the
duality of the classes. Which is important within this text as it pushes Hyde
out with the elite circle of the main characters’ upper-class lives, characters
including that of Jekyll, Utterson, and Enfield who are clear members within
this circle. Stevenson then uses duality again in another way, in an attempt to
divide both good and evil through the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
This occurs with Jekyll being used to represent good and Hyde as the
personified evil villain within the text. Although there are many reservations
about this association as Jekyll has done many bad deeds, also and he also
creates Mr. Hyde to continue with his positive personal appearance within
Victorian society. However, the theme does cause the further division between
the characters due to Hyde’s impulsive, animalistic actions, which, too, cause
fear to be associated with the evil Mr. Hyde and differ him from traditional,
reserved Victorian society. Therefore, showing the significance that the theme
of duality has, within this text, in creating Hyde as the isolated, alarming
character of this novel.

 

In conclusion, The Strange Case of
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is an evident example of a text in which has an
obvious fear towards an outsider within it. The author uses many different
literary techniques to create this clear divide to firstly segregate the
character, but to also encourage this fear that surrounds him and causes him to
be feared by the other characters. The character segregated within this novel,
is that of Dr. Jekyll’s evil alter ego, Mr. Hyde. Ultimately, Stevenson does
this through the characterization of Hyde. Hyde’s ugly appearance and aggressive
actions are his downfall with them causing him to be isolated from the other
characters. His character is often described as animalistic and aggressive
which not only isolates him but creates the fear that surrounds his character. His
class also extensively isolates Mr. Hyde. The other characters are members of
the wealthy upper class with important professions whereas Hyde is not within
this elite class and lives in an area that would repulse the members of the elite.
This furthers the divide making him the obvious outsider from the other
characters all throughout. Through the use of duality and the theme of good and
evil, this overall furthers the divide but, again, re-enforces the fear that
Hyde strikes within people. Through the several violent attacks that Hyde was
involved in, these cause great fear within several characters and easily
portrays him as the evil outsider. This is significant when discussing the
character that is Mr. Hyde. Therefore, making Mr. Hyde a significant example of
a character that is portrayed as an outsider that is also feared by many. Overall,
making this character and this text, obvious examples to use when exploring the
fear that surrounds the outsider.

1 Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
and Other Tales of Terror (Penguin Books, 2003), p. 15.

2 Ibid.
p.10

3 Colin
Manlove, ‘”Closer than an Eye”: The Interconnection of Stevenson’s Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, Studies in
Scottish Literature,
23.1, (1988), p. 93-94.

4 Stevenson, p. 16

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid, p. 23

7 Ibid. p. 26

8 Ibid. p. 21-22

9 Ibid. p. 58

10 Joyce
Carol Oates, ‘Jekyll/Hyde’, The Hudson Review,
40.4, (1988), p. 604.