Select two authors and reflect on how their writings reflect similar themes, tone, imagery, darkness and evil?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The two authors I would compare in terms of works with similar tones would be Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In both of these stories, the tone implies the punishment and suffering delivered upon those who rise above their place as men and try to act like God: specifically by altering the laws of the natural world with regard to human beings. The tone is very dark as each author condemns such unnatural activities.

The common theme for both stories is to know one's place and not try to do what is only meant for God to do. In Frankenstein, Victor wants to create live from non-living tissue. When he is able to animate inanimate flesh, he creates life, the way only God should be able to do. In Jekyll and Hyde tale, Dr. Jekyll uses chemicals and experiments upon himself to alter the make-up of his physical being—God's creation. Both men allow science to blind them to the morality of what they are doing, and each pays a terrible price.

Darkness and evil are present in both stories. Look to the dark imagery as Victor describes the stormy night when he brings life to the creature:

I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet...I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs...

His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!—Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

For all of Victor's good intentions to serve mankind, he creates a monster the not even he can look upon. He flees the scene, leaving the creature alone. Like an infant, the creature tries to find his place in the world, is rejected by human kind and is very alone. He becomes so enraged, that he starts murdering those closest to Victor as punishment for creating him, rejecting him, and forcing him to live a lonely existence.

In Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, Dr. Jekyll finds a way to alter his shape—his physique. However, in doing so, he also alters his personality and changes himself into a violent and loathsome creature. His alter-ego commits murder, and Dr. Jekyll knows he has made a grave error. Poole, Jekyll's butler, describes what he has seen, though he cannot at first account for it:

Sir...that thing was not my master, and there’s the truth. My master...is a tall fine build of a man and this was more of a dwarf...Oh, sir...Do you think I do not know where his head comes to in the cabinet door, where I saw him every morning of my life? No, sir, that thing in the mask was never Doctor Jekyll—God knows what it was, but it was never Doctor Jekyll...

Utterson asks Poole...

This masked figure that you saw, did you recognize it?”

“Well, sir, it went so quick...that I could hardly swear to that...But if you mean, was it Mr. Hyde?—why, yes, I think it was!

At the end of each story, Victor and Jekyll both die because of their unethical and immoral activities—evil acts against the world. Victor has worn himself out—has no reason to live; Jekyll must end his life to end Hyde's.

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