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

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

Chapter One

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"what is called quiet..."   (Chapter One)

The addition of "what is called" offers some doubt to the adjective "quiet." Now we're not so sure if this setting really is quiet or if there is something else going on behind the scene. It also brings to mind the connotations of the word "quiet"—peaceful, normal, nothing out of the ordinary. This phrasing makes me think that this street only appears to be quiet, but that something unusual may be happening.

"what does not always follow..."   (Chapter Two)

In a humorous turn of phrase, Stevenson suggests that mutual respect between two people does not necessitate mutual enjoyment. In the case of Dr. Lanyon and Mr. Utterson, the two happen to align.

"Although a fog rolled over the city..."   (Chapter Four)

Fog is an indelible piece of London’s environment, mood, and atmosphere as well as a rich literary symbol for confusion and obscurity. The fog rolling in over the streets of London before the murder of Sir Danvers Carew creates the conditions which allow the murder and also symbolize the mystery of the murderer’s identity and motivations.

"nothing had come except by post; “and only circulars by that,”..."   (Chapter Five)

The noun “circular” refers to a type of postal mail, such as a pamphlet, that is delivered to a large quantity of people. That Poole assures Utterson that nothing other than junk mail has come raises several questions: How did Hyde deliver the letter if no one has come to Jekyll’s residence? Do Poole or Jekyll have any reason to lie about the letter’s origins? Through these questions, the mystery of Hyde and Jekyll’s relationship deepens and the tone grows more suspenseful.

"“Henry Jekyll forge for a murderer!” And his blood ran cold in his veins...."   (Chapter Five)

Because Utterson has previously had a high opinion of Jekyll, the idea that Jekyll would write a letter to protect Hyde is chilling and unthinkable. At this point, Utterson is sure that Jekyll is still in contact with Hyde—that someone so respectable as Jekyll would aid the despicable Hyde fills Utterson with fear. The reader’s sense of foreboding terror increases alongside Utterson’s.

"a crushing anticipation of calamity..."   (Chapter Eight)

Anticipating the impending confrontation with Jekyll, Utterson expects “calamity,” another word for disaster. That the anticipation is “crushing” both suggests a fear of personal harm and calls to mind the episode near the beginning of the story in which Mr. Hyde crushed a girl in the street. As the plot approaches its climax, the tone becomes increasingly suspenseful.

"No, sir; master’s made away with;..."   (Chapter Eight)

Poole has been in Jekyll’s service for many years and recognizes that the voice answering to Dr. Jekyll is not the doctor’s. The question of who might be in the laboratory and what happened to Jekyll creates a tone of suspense and mystery, spurring readers’ curiosity.

"and your sight shall be blasted by a prodigy to stagger the unbelief of Satan.”..."   (Chapter Nine)

Mr. Hyde offers Dr. Lanyon the choice to witness the drinking of the mixture or not. He gives the spectacle a sense of enormous scale, promising “new avenues to fame and power.” He goes on to cast it in religious language, referring to it as a “prodigy”—an extraordinary, inexplicable occurrence—that would shake even the most skeptical. Hyde’s heightened tone underscores the climactic nature of the moment.

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