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Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


by Robert Louis Stevenson

Analysis: Tone

Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?

Shocking, Melodramatic, Journalistic

If you tried to highlight the dramatic phrases in this slim novel, you'd end up with approximately a hundred and fifty neon pages.

Take a look at a couple of these passages:

He would be aware of the great field of lamps of a nocturnal city; then of the figure of a man walking swiftly; then of a child running from the doctor's; and then these met, and that human Juggernaut trod the child down and passed on regardless of her screams. (2.13)

The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness.  (10.4)

Sentences like these exemplify the drawn out, dramatized tone of shilling shockers. Stevenson increases Mr. Hyde’s sketchiness, for example, by writing in a mysterious fog that appears every time Mr. Hyde is nearby.

At the same time, however, the book is written rather "factually." The points of view are fairly objective. How can the book possibly do both of these things at the same time? Read it and find out.

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