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Free Study Guide-Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson-Synopsis
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AUTHOR'S STYLE

Stevenson's Style in the Novel

Stevenson was frank in admitting that he imitated the authors he admired. Among the authors he admired and followed were Montaigne, Hazlitt, Defoe, Hawthorne, and Wordsworth. He read them critically and intensely and even jotted down words and phrases which he liked, for use in his own writing. However, in imitating others, he developed his own individual style, which is characterized by precision and a musical quality.

Stevenson's style shows the kind of man he was. His writing is full of echoes from great writers and books. Like many writers of his day, the Bible was a major source of allusion and inspiration. For example, he refers to Cain's "heresy" in the first chapter of this book. In the last chapter, he makes a pointed reference to the "Babylonian finger on the wall" spelling out Jekyll's judgment.


Stevenson was a widely traveled person, and he came in contact with people following many professions. He had a special liking for unusual or archaic words and slang. The appropriate use of words like "saw-bones," "apocryphal," "holograph," "troglodytic," "diaphanous," and "scud" bears ample testimony to this characteristic of his style. Indeed, Stevenson's style is marked throughout by the graceful use and easy flow of his language. As a stylist, Stevenson is also fond of balance and antithesis. "It is one thing to mortify curiosity; another thing to conquer it." "Hitherto it had touched him on the intellectual side alone; but now his imagination also was engaged or rather enslaved." "He thought of this kindly, but his thoughts were disquieted and fearful."

It has been remarked that imitation kills originality. This is not true in Stevenson's case. His style certainly gains by imitating great authors.

STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Discuss Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a study in the dual nature of the human personality.

2. How does Stevenson handle the theme of evil in his novel?

3. What features of a "shocker" do you find in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

4. Comment on Stevenson's novel as a criticism of science and scientists.

5. Examine the moral problem of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

6. Comment on Stevenson's use of symbols and images in the novel.

7. Write a note on the prose style of Stevenson.

8. Attempt character sketches of the following: Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Mr. Utterson, Dr. Lanyon, Mr. Enfield, Poole, and Guest.

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