How does "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" relate to Gothic Literature?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gothic literature is a style of writing that grew in conjunction with Romanticism.  Like Romanticism, it uses elements of nature and focuses on human experience and emotion, but it tends to incorporate the darker sides of all topics.  Psychological torment, death, decay, aspects of the supernatural, villians and tyrants - all these things are characteristic of gothic literature. 


Jekyll and Hyde has all of the above mentioned traits.  It studies the balance of good and evil in the human soul.  This is the psychological conflict under which Dr. Jekyll suffers.  He wants to do good and be good, but he has "evil" tendencies and a need to live a purely physical, not intellectual, existence.  This is why he creates his potion and allows his alter-ego to take over.  Whereas in Romanticism, the intellectual side of his personality would be the ultimate victor in this conflict, the fact that Dr. Jekyll ends up the victim turns this story towards Gothicism.


While there is no specific supernatural force at work, the descriptions provided in the story personify the environment in such a way to suggest both dark and other-wordly forces.  Consider this description in the first chapter:


  • "...and just at that point a certain sinister block of building thrust forward its gable on the street. ... The door, which was equipped with neither bell nor knocker, was blistered and distained..."

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