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Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

2. Introduction – Part 2

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About this Lecture


In this module, we continue with our broad introduction to the social, historical and cultural context to the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) Stevenson’s interest in the binary between one’s behaviour in public versus what one does behind closed doors, and the reappearance of this theme in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, published just three years later; (ii) the concept of ‘unspeakableness’ in Victorian literature and culture; (iii) how to pronounce ‘Jekyll’(!); (iv) Robert’s early life and education, including the influence of his enormously successful father, his elopement with a married American woman, and his travels round the world; (iv) the popularity and literary quality of Stevenson’s other novels, especially Treasure Island; and (v) the literary style of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. In the first two modules, we provide a broad introduction to the social, historical, cultural context of the novel, focusing in particular on Stevenson’s life and career, his literary and cultural influences, and his own influence on later writers. In the seventeen modules that follow, we read through the novel chapter-by-chapter, providing close reading and analysis, including commentary on themes and motifs, the structure of the novel, its multiple narrators and narratives, significant objects (keys, doors, hands, mirrors, etc.), literary influences (Shakespeare, Marlowe, James Hogg, etc.), intellectual influences (Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud), important elements from Stevenson’s own life – and much, much more.

Note: Page numbers in these lectures refers to the Penguin Classics edition of the novel (‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror’, ed. Robert Mighall). Students using a different version of the novel may encounter slight differences in page numbering.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2020, October 22). Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Introduction – Part 2 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Introduction – Part 2." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Oct 2020,