Gothic became popular and according to feminist critics, such

Gothic literature
originated during the second half of the eighteenth century, being particularly
prominent up until the nineteenth century.  As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary a ‘Gothic
novel’ is ‘characterized by an atmosphere of
mystery and horror and having a pseudo-medieval setting.’ Both Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’ (1817) and Robert
Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ (1886) can be
identified as ‘Gothic’, despite the fact that both novels fluctuate in terms of
following the typical conventions of the Gothic genre.

As an overview, Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’ is a coming
of age story focusing primarily on Catherine, a late adolescent girl who has a
keen interest in Gothic novels, the story includes her trip to ‘Northanger
Abbey’ which presents her road to self-discovery. Primarily, Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger
Abbey’ writing style satirizes the happenings of a true Gothic tale by its
presentation of ridiculing the plot, characters and the direct critique in the
voice of the narrator. Although it is thought that Austen uses parody for a
light hearted humorous effect, Austen published ‘Northanger Abby’ several decades
after the gothic genre became popular and according to feminist critics, such
as Claudia Johnson in Jane Austen: Women, Politics and the Novel (1988), her use of parody is to
reveal the effect of the ‘Gothic’ genre on women in society at that time. As
for Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ the novel
tells the tale of the protagonist, Dr Jekyll and his ability to transform himself
into his alter ego, an atavistic murderer, Mr Hyde. Stevenson’s use of Science
Fiction and Victorian gothic blend together brilliantly to create a layered
novel; his use of a complex structure and several different narrators all
combine together to convince the reader from the beginning that the story isn’t
based in a realist world and instead falls within the ‘Gothic’ genre. With all
this in mind, I will be exploring in depth a range of different literary
devices whilst also drawing on relevant reading from current critics which would
suggest that both ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’
could be identified as ‘Gothic’.

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Within Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson uses ‘doubling’
throughout his novel, the definition of ‘doubling’ is ‘An essential duality
within a single character, centred on the polarity of good and evil. To live
out the doubling and call forth the evil is a moral choice for which one is
responsible, whatever the level of consciousness involved.’ Similarly, the ‘gothic
double’ definition being ‘An essential duality within a single character,
centred on the polarity of good and evil. To live out the doubling and call
forth the evil is a moral choice for which one is responsible, whatever the
level of consciousness involved.’ Therefore, Stevenson’s use of duality and
doubling of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde lends itself perfectly to the typical
convention of a Gothic novel, that being the element of the ‘supernatural’. TALK
ABOUT CHARACTERS AND JACK THE RIPPER- PLAYS ON THE FEARS & ANXITIES OF
VICTORIAN LONDON

In Gothic literature,
the convention of setting usually plays a key role in creating a gothic like
atmosphere, setting the mood for readers. Usually, gothic fiction is set in
very rugged locations, including crumbling medieval castles, wild landscapes,
dark towers and dungeons (find an example) settings such as this create a mysterious
tone. Contrastingly, Austen and Stevenson both juxtapose this, using everyday
settings and although both share the similarity of this, the suspected reasoning’s
and the actual effect of their settings contrast each other. Stevenson’s use of
the everyday setting of London is used to create an uncanny feel of a familiar
setting and ultimately brings together the general atmosphere and mood of the ‘gothic’.
Jekyll and Hyde was both set and written in the Victorian period and at that
time, Britain and more specifically London was undergoing a large economic growth;
which is actually identified by Stevenson within his novel when describing
London as a ‘growing city’. At the time, London was bringing in a lot of trade
which meant not only visitors but also immigrants where flooding the streets,
this in itself brought a sense or strangeness and the unfamiliar to Victorian
London and that lends itself hand in hand with the way in which Stevenson
portrays London within his novel. Alongside this, Stevenson draws on the social
divide of Victorian Britain at the time with the representation of Dr Jekyll’s
house being in a respectable area in contrast to the room rented for Mr Hyde
being in a ‘poorer’ area of London, not only does this display social divide
but once again shows Stevenson’s use of ‘doubling’. The laboratory in particular,
is the central setting in which the ‘supernatural’ elements of the story take
place, although the laboratory as described ‘find quotation’ ironically is
described as ‘deserted’ creating a mysterious undertone and ultimately linking
more to gothic than a place of science. This is not the only time in which
Stevenson draws on the settings being ‘deserted’ (find an example)

Stevenson repeatedly
uses pathetic fallacy throughout Jekyll and Hyde when referring to the fog over
London. For example, ‘use examples’ the use of descriptive language surrounding
the fog helps to build up an eerie feel within the novel and metaphorically the
fog represents to ‘unknowns’ surrounding Mr Hyde’s true identity. (vivid
descriptions) 

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