While reading Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet and Sign of the Four, I found myself impatiently competing against Mr. Utterson and Sherlock Holmes to find out the solutions to the crimes. Stevenson and Doyle cleverly use the imagination of their protagonists to display through fictional literature the concern late Victorians felt about the rise of a new science. The characters of Utterson and Holmes resemble each other in their roles as objective observers who use imagination to create a picture in the reader's mind about the narrative.
In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Utterson is a prominent London lawyer retained to oversee Dr. Jekyll's personal affairs. Utterson is characterized as an upright and honest man who is genuinely interested in his client's well being. Through his acquaintance with Enfield, a man about London, Utterson learns more about Dr. Jekyll's friend, the mysterious Mr. Hyde. For the reader's benefit, Utterson exhibits his imagination by opening a window to the discrete aspects of Dr. Jekyll's life. It is important for readers to envision the discrete aspects of Jekyll's character including his good and evil nature that he continually experiments with through scientific study. This display of imagination allows the narrative to smoothly unfold and quantify Stevenson's attempt to reveal late Victorian concerns through fiction.
In the same way, Sign of the Four's character of Holmes uses imagination through his role as an optimistic, amateur detective. Holmes is portrayed as being driven by his imagination, which compels him to shoot cocaine in order to alleviate the feeling of boredom...
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... at Pondicherry Lodge and while Utterson's concern with character of Jekyll discloses an aspect of the new science that probes the duality of good versus evil.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Doyle, Arthur Conan. A Study in Scarlet in The Complete Sherlock Holmes. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1930. 22-75.
Chesney, Kellow. The Victorian Underworld. New York: Schocken Books, 1970.
Macdonald, Ross. "The Writer as Detective Hero." Detective Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Robin W. Winks. Englewood Cliffs, London: Prentice-Hall, 1980.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. First Vintage Classics Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.
Veeder, William. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde after One Hundred Years. Eds. William Veeder and Gordon Hirsch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
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