Focalization in Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

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Jolien Vermeulen
Take-home essay
Wednesday 16:00 (EZ2)

Focalization in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. The work has known a worldwide success since 1886, the year of release. The book is about the lawyer John Utterson who investigates the strange events between his friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll and the mischievous Edward Hyde. In this essay it will be justified how the reader interprets the story. Furthermore I will explain how Stevenson makes sure that the reader is actively involved in the unravelling of the case and analyse the use of focalization and its importance for the development of the story. The first aspect that will be discussed is the importance of the focalizer for the reader’s interpretation. Already from the first chapter on, people realize that the story is told through the eyes of Utterson, which is internal and fixed focalization. Chapter by chapter, Mr. Utterson discovers new information which helps him to discover the truth about his old friend, Mr. Jekyll. As Mr. Utterson discovers all kinds of new information so does the reader. Because of the internal-focalization, the reader feels and thinks like Mr. Utterson. For instance, nobody has ever clearly seen Mr. Hyde and people know little about him. This keeps Mr. Utterson occupied, even if Mr. Lanyon – who is a common friend of his and Mr. Jekyll- has never heard of him. After that conversation, the reader knows what is going on in Mr. Utterson’s mind; “It was a night of little ease to his tolling mind …. And still he was digging at the problem” (Stevenson 12). The case of Hyde doesn’t only keep the lawyer occupied but also the reader. The benefit of an internal focalizer is that the reader too is going to ask his/herself questions about the story and is therefore pulled into the story. So, by using an internal –focalizer Stevenson really involves the...
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