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Simile in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Simile Examples in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:

Chapter Five

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"glimmered like carbuncles..."   (Chapter Five)

A “carbuncle” is a variety of red gem. In some instances, the word refers to a specific gem; in others, any gem used for embellishment; in others, a mythical gem touted for its brilliant gleam. It is this final connotation on which Stevenson draws in his description of the lamplight glimmering through the heavy London fog. The simile of the carbuncle, with its intimations of myth and its evocations of a scarlet gleam, charges the scene with a larger-than-life atmosphere.

"disconsolate prisoner..."   (Chapter Seven)

To be a “disconsolate prisoner” is to be an inconsolable and gloomy one. The rich simile relating Jekyll to a prisoner suggests a state of self-imprisonment. The metaphorical jail, then, is not a physical space but rather a psychological one. He is the prisoner, the jail, and the jailer, all at once.

"with an infinite sadness of mien,..."   (Chapter Seven)

Mien, pronounced “mean” and from the same root as demeanor, describes a person’s expression, mood, and emotional bearing. After coming out of his seclusion, Henry Jekyll has retreated again into a state of despair and “infinite sadness,” the source of which is as yet unclear.

"my troubles will roll away like a story that is told...."   (Chapter Nine)

In his letter-within-a-letter, Dr. Jekyll uses a rich metaphor. He expresses the hope that if Dr. Lanyon follows his instructions “my troubles will roll away like a story that is told.” The comparison does not make sense in the way most similes do. The verb “roll away” invites a simile to some object which literally rolls—a stone comes to mind. Instead, we have “a story that is told,” a phrase which suggests the process of lightening and unburdening that follows the telling of a story. What makes this metaphor so fascinating is that the story is not merely an abstract vehicle for the simile. As he writes, Jekyll is in the direct process of telling his story.

"the mistlike transience, of this seemingly so solid body in which we walk attired. Certain agents I found to have the power to shake and to pluck back that fleshy vestment, even as a wind might toss the curtains of a pavilion...."   (Chapter Ten)

The noun “transience” means the state of lasting for only a short time. “Vestment” refers to an item of clothing, often ceremonial in nature. Notice the simile that Jekyll chooses to refer to his transformations: he is able to change his body with the ease of how the wind moves curtains. It’s also important to note that the simile also carries connotations of chance, because one never knows when the wind will rustle the curtains, suggesting Jekyll’s later uncontrolled changes into Hyde.

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