Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Limitations of Language in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, investigates the effectuality of language as a means of rational and logical communication when confronted with situations that represent the intangible and supernatural. Throughout the text, it becomes evident that there is a gradual disappearance of the ability to communicate ideas verbally when characters attempt to explain certain things – particularly, situations involving Mr. Hyde. This erosion of logical communication through language is represented and illustrated by several characters, mainly Mr. Enfield, Dr. Lanyon, and Mr. Utterson. These characters all represent the theme of silence that permeates the novel, and with this silence comes a gradual illustration of the limitations of language and its inability to efficiently rationalize and convey encounters with the supernatural.

The first type of silence that is present throughout the novel is associated with refusals of various characters to discuss topics that could potentially harm their reputations as well as the reputations of others. It is possible that in some cases, Stevenson uses this lack of description as a mechanism of ambiguity, so as not to allow the reader to be completely...

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