The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Critical Context
by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, although one of the most popular, is not the only romance novel that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote. Treasure Island (1883), following several essays and travel books based on Stevenson’s own journeys seeking health, was his first successful novel of this kind. The romance, as Stevenson fashions it, concentrates on adventure, a distinctive narrative style that involves one or more participants in the action, and a strong sense of moral concern throughout. After Treasure Island, an adventure story for boys that is also keenly observant of human character, he then published The Black Arrow (1888), intended as a sequel to Treasure Island. Kidnapped (1886), a comic epic about David Balfour’s efforts to claim his inheritance, has been connected with Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Both stories concern a young boy who, despite the dictates of his conscience, joins an outsider from his own society, and the two become friends in flight. The Master of Ballantrae (1889), the last novel that Stevenson completed, is a sequel to Kidnapped. It too delves into Scottish history and describes the breakup of an ancient Scottish family. Stevenson produced vivid, compelling adventures about young protagonists whose quests for identity depend on an understanding of the world as well as themselves. As Stevenson shows repeatedly, an understanding of oneself is difficult but necessary.