What did the audiences think at the time of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson was quite popular in its own period. It was part of a genre known as the "sensation novel" which emphasized plots that built up an atmosphere of horror and suspense. These works ranged from "penny dreadfuls", short, pamphlet-length works for a mass audience, to longer works of literary fiction. A key element of the genre, which distinguishes it from the Gothic, was the notion of horrors lurking behind ordinary life, and people who appeared normal on the surface but possessing some hidden evil or mania causing them to commit atrocities. Although some reviewers disparaged the genre as appealing to people's lowest instincts, it was enormously popular.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was both a literary and a popular success, not only selling well but generally admired for its literary craftsmanship and obtaining positive reviews. A favorable review in The Times on 25 January 1886 set the stage for its success. It is estimated that over 200,000 copies were sold between its publication and 1900.

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