Study Guide

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Genre

By Robert Louis Stevenson


Mystery, Horror or Gothic Fiction, Science Fiction, Psychological Thriller, and Suspense

Make no mistake, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde gets our hearts pumping with its brutal murders, magical potions, inexplicable events, game-changing documents, and, of course, the evil-oozing Mr. Hyde.

At the core of this novel is a mystery: who exactly is this Mr. Hyde and what is the nature of his relationship to the seemingly benevolent and wonderful Dr. Jekyll? As we read, we come to find that  this question may not be easy to answer. Along the way, we get a good dose of all kinds of Gothicky things. Let's pull out our Gothic checklist:

  • Old, decrepit, shadowy, ruined, could-be-haunted buildings? Check.
  • Underground things like crypts, tombs, basements, secret passageways? Check.
  • Lots of shadow and darkness contrasted with little hints of light (like candles or moonlight)? Check.
  • Magical elements, ghostly things, or supernatural undertones? Check.
  • A protagonist or hero who reveals his true identity only once we've reached the end of the story? Check.
  • Really freaky events (like murders and stuff)? Check.

We've definitely got a Gothic tale on our hands. All of these elements come together to convince us from the beginning that something is awry, that this isn't a normal, realist world we're contending with. As a result, we are on the edge of our seats, trying desperately to cope with the suspense of finding out who Mr. Hyde is.

It took us a while to wrap our minds around all of the potions and the idea of Jekyll turning into Hyde, and vice-versa. That's where the "science fiction" side comes in—the story is not based on reality, but draws instead on scientific knowledge and speculation.