This GCSE English Literature quiz will challenge you on context in Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Context refers to the specific environment in which a text was written. Context therefore includes the author’s social and political environment, as well as the time and geographical location in which he or she wrote. Does this particular collection of influences sound familiar? If so, the reason is likely because these same elements, when seen within the text, are referred to as “setting”. Whereas setting refers to these aspects of a text’s created, fictional world, context refers to these aspects of the author’s own world. Context does not dictate the meaning of a text, or directly bypass the author’s creative process, but it does inevitably have some impact on fictional works, because authors are affected by the world in which they live.
Personal beliefs also often have an effect on the text, although discerning their influence is not always a straightforward matter.
It can be useful to learn as much as much as you can about the context of a fictional work that you are studying. This work will help you to develop some insight into the important influences which helped to shape the text. This is not to say that context dictates the meaning of a text. The influence of context on meaning can be subtle and it is often false to claim that a particular historical event appears unmediated in the pages of a fictional text, as if the author were taking dictation. Nevertheless, your knowledge of context can provide useful information to bear in mind as you analyse a text.
The context of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is interesting, especially when considering Stevenson’s interest in science, travel and adventure. He inhabited an environment which had seen rapid change, an increasing knowledge of the diversity of the world, and huge population shifts.
Research the context of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, remembering everything you have learned in English lessons, and try these questions to see how much you know about the context of the novella.