Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Scotland to a family of lighthouse designers. It was a religious household and the ideas of Bible greatly affected the imagination of the literature he would write. He was a sickly child and suffered from respiratory problems for most of his life. He travelled and studied widely in his youth and wrote his first two books before meeting a married woman named Fanny Osbourne in 1879 and later marrying her. Over the next decade, he wrote many pieces, though his health was deteriorating. His 1883 success with Treasure Island brought him fame and admiration and he kept working for the rest of his life as a prolific storyteller. Nonetheless, bad health continued to plague him and he finally died of tuberculosis in1894, during a journey to Samoa.
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Historical Context of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Victorian Era saw technology and science soar to heights never dreamed of in prior years – Stevenson’s world was being influenced by new and unknown ideas, and some of this uncertainty definitely comes across in both Jekyll’s experimentation with the nature of man and Lanyon’s distrust of his “unscientific” ideas.

Other Books Related to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Many writers have been influenced by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, leading to a legacy of psychological dramas and split personality characters in literature, including The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, whose protagonist is likewise haunted by a rival self, an image of youth and beauty. The monstrosity that can be caused by scientific experimentation also recalls the similarly Gothic world of Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Key Facts about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Full Title: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • When Written: 1885
  • Where Written: Bournemouth, England
  • When Published: 5th January 1886
  • Literary Period: Victorian
  • Genre: Horror, Drama, Victorian Gothic
  • Setting: The streets of London
  • Climax: Utterson reads the narrative written by Lanyon before his death, which describes the horrific bodily transformation of Mr. Hyde into Dr. Jekyll, explaining everything that has happened so far in an absolutely incredible way.
  • Antagonist: Mr. Hyde forms the antagonist of the tale until we realize that he is in fact the double of Dr. Jekyll.
  • Point of View: A third person narrator tells the story with an omniscient view of characters but stays mostly with Mr. Utterson, which allows Stevenson to reveal things to the reader with suspense.

Extra Credit for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Beginnings. Robert Louis Stevenson reportedly wrote the draft of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in an astonishing three days in a drug-induced fever.

Expensive Taste. Robert Louis Stevenson was known as “Velvet Jaket” as a young man because of his dandy-fied taste in clothes.