The basic plot of the story is about a doctor named Jekyll, who has a secret life. He transforms into an evil man named Hyde, who is inhumane and violent towards other people, for no particular reason. No-one is aware that he leads a double life, and throughout the story he becomes very mysterious. The purpose of the story is to express secrecy, duality and a sense of mystery. This is done with the description of the settings, the secretive language, and the way in which the reader can put parts of the story together, to make sense of what is going on.
The reader is able to make a connection between Jekyll and Hyde, and to realise why Hyde does the violent things that he does. All of this makes the story have a strong theme of secrecy and duality. In the story there are multiple narratives from different characters. This helps to express the themes, because different characters know different things. The accounts are described in mysterious ways, and some sound quite spooky. With the different accounts, the readers start to put all the parts together, to try and work out what is going on.
The multiple accounts provide a sense of duality. If there was just one narrative, there would be a great loss of the sense of mystery. The structure of the story is that the mystery is revealed gradually, by introducing new accounts from different characters. By having a narrative from Jekyll at the end, it helps to confirm what has been happening, and gives a full account of what the mystery has been about. If readers have been guessing what the mystery was, then this confirms if they were right or wrong. It also ties up the loose ends which have not been answered.
The story has a mixed genre of mystery and gothic horror. The mystery is expressed through the plot about Mr Hyde, and the connection between him and Jekyll. The strange happenings also contribute to the mystery. For a great part of the story you are unsure what the mystery is, and readers are left guessing until the end. Gothic horror is expressed through the brutal violence of Hyde, the murders he commits, and the spooky settings. Both the narratives and genres express mystery and gothic horror, so there is definitely a link and these themes are greatly shown.
There are differences between the impact on modern and Victorian audiences. In the Victorian times, the audiences would have seen grand and spooky buildings in real life, like the ones described in the story. Therefore, they would not feel uneasy about the setting. However the Victorian audience could also be more scared by it, because nowadays people are watching horror film all the times, where as Victorians would not have, so in some ways it can have a bigger impact on Victorians, and a big impact on a modern audience.
In the story RLS seems to be exploring the themes of secrecy and duality. Secrecy is shown with Hyde being violent towards others for no reason; Hyde’s boarded up house, Jekylls strange behaviour as he disappears and other features of secrecy which are shown. Duality is explored with the dual personality or Jekyll/Hyde (Good and evil), also Jekylls house with the grand front of it and the spooky rear of the house which is the laboratory; there are other elements of duality explored in the story. The biggest impact to theme of duality is the Double life of Jekyll.
The settings have an impact on showing the themes of secrecy and duality and in this section they will be looked into, in detail. First the settings, that contributes to secrecy. One example of secrecy is Hyde’s home and where he disappeared after trampling over a child. “It was two storeys high; showed no window, nothing but a door. ” This shows secrecy because Hyde wants to be secluded, not seen, he wants no company and wants to keep to himself. Another point to show he wants to be left alone is where it says, “The door, which was equipped with neither bell nor knocker.