Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Performer Heritage.blu Marina Spiazzi, Marina Tavella, Margaret Layton © 2018 Robert Louis Stevenson 1. Life • Born into a middle-class family in Edinburgh in 1850. • Since his childhood, he suffered from tuberculosis and spent much of his time in bed. • He travelled a lot in an attempt to improve his health. • His trips provided him with inspiration for his writings. • He settled in Samoa and died there in 1894. Performer Heritage Robert Louis Stevenson 2. Works • Treasure Island (1883) brought him success. • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) made his reputation. • He wrote many other notable books including Kidnapped (1886) and Master of Ballantrae (1889). He also published collections of short stories and other tales. Performer Heritage Robert Louis Stevenson 3. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: plot • Mr Utterson, a respectable London lawyer, is a friend of the brilliant scientist Henry Jekyll. • The scientist has created a potion able to release his evil side, Mr Hyde. • These two beings are in perpetual struggle. • Hyde achieves domination over the Jekyll aspect. • In the end Jekyll’s suicide is the final and only choice. Performer Heritage Robert Louis Stevenson 3. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: the setting • Victorian London in the 1870s. The town had a double nature the respectable West End vs the appalling East End slums. • Jekyll’s house has two façades the front used by the doctor is attractive, part of a square of handsome houses, while the rear side, used by Mr Hyde, is part of a sinister block of buildings. • Most of the scenes takes place at night. Performer Heritage Robert Louis Stevenson 4. Style Utterson the story is told in the 3rd person from his point of view. He plays the role of a detective. Multi-narrative structure and four narrators: Enfield a distant relative of Utterson’s. He tells Utterson a terrible story about a man trampling a child. Dr Lanyon a friend and colleague of Jekyll’s. He tells of his experiencing Jekyll’s transformation. Dr Jekyll his narrative and final confession takes up the last chapter Performer Heritage Robert Louis Stevenson 4. Style • The language is simple and clear. • Use of puns: ‘If he be Mr Hyde, […] I shall be Mr Seek.’ Performer Heritage Robert Louis Stevenson 5. Sources The novel had its origin in a dream: a man in a laboratory swallowed a drug and turned into a different being. The Gothic aspect of this dream excited Stevenson who produced a first draft Performer Heritage The Calvinism of Stevenson’s family gave the writer a sense of the duality of man’s nature Robert Louis Stevenson 6. Influences and interpretations • Darwin’s studies about man’s kinship to the animal world Hyde is deformed and abnormal, the symbol of repressed psychological drives. • Jekyll is a Victorian Faust His awareness is a sort of a pact with interior evil that controls him in the end. • A reflection on art itself Jekyll’s discovery may be the artist’s journey into the human psyche. Performer Heritage Robert Louis Stevenson 7. Main theme The double nature of human beings Jekyll and Hyde are the stereotypes of people who are good and evil. Jekyll has led a virtuous life Hyde is pure hate and evil • • • • • • his face is handsome; his hands white; his body is large and harmonious. Performer Heritage his face is pale; his hands are dark and hairy; his body is dwarfish and deformed.