In "The Carew Murder," Chapter 4 of  "Dr. Jekyll  and Mr. Hyde," how is tension sustained for the modern reader?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Carew Murder Case" (Chapter 4) contains many of the elements of horror and mystery that continue to intrigue the modern reader. First, we have the unexplained, gruesome murder of a wealthy and elite citizen, as well as the fact that the murderer has gotten away with his crime. Moreover, clues are left about, waiting to be discovered:

"The murderer was gone long ago; but there lay his victim in the middle of the lane, incredibly mangled. The stick with which the deed had been done...had broken in the middle under the stress of this insensate cruelty....A purse and gold watch were found on the victim...".

Aside from the voyeuristic pleasure (one with which modern people can certainly identify, based on the popularity of shows like CSI and Law and Order), there are other compelling appeals for twenty-first century readers. There is the naked ambition of the police officer who foresees a career boost in handling a famous case. There is a woman who "had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy, but her manners were excellent."

Finally, there is the introduction of the theme of "unexpressed deformity," one of the early hints to which Stevenson alludes is a part of every man (and woman), harmed by the modern world's tendency to repress emotion.

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