Physical setting

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is set in Victorian London in the 1880s. The geography of the city in the novella is confusing, which adds to the sense of mystery surrounding the events. In particular, the area where Dr Jekyll lives is a strange mixture of good and bad, rich and poor. He lives in a large house which has “a great air of wealth and comfort” on “a square of ancient, handsome houses” (p. 16); however, most of the other houses on the square are “decayed from their high estate and let in flats and chambers to all sorts and conditions of men” (p. 16). 

Although the square is grand, it is near a poor and depressing area. The laboratory at the back of Dr Jekyll’s house opens onto a small street of shops inhabited by lower-class people. Whereas the wealthy people who originally owned the houses in Dr Jekyll’s square have apparently been doing less well, the people who live on the lower-class street at the back are becoming richer: “The inhabitants were all doing well, it seemed, and all emulously hoping to do better still […], the street shone out in ...

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