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Discuss Stevenson's representation of evil and the concept of duality in 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. How was Stevenson influenced by the concerns of his era?

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Introduction

Discuss Stevenson's representation of evil and the concept of duality in 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. How was Stevenson influenced by the concerns of his era? Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a classic novel telling the story of the struggle between good and evil. The good being shown in the form of a well-respected Doctor Henry Jekyll and the evil being released from a lengthy repression in the form of Mr Edward Hyde. In my essay I will be concentrating on the influences of the Victorian age and how Stevenson involved aspects of his own life into the writing of the book. The 64 years from 1837 to 1901, which was the Victorian age, was a repressive society to live in. There were strict codes of morality, which meant that everyone had to look, sound and more importantly act in a certain way. Society was very judgemental and a single step out of line and your reputation could be crushed. Middle class men, like Stevenson, were expected to work hard and treat women with a high amount of respect. ...read more.

Middle

Like an animal, Hyde used his instincts to tell him what to do, and followed them fully. The imagery of Hyde being animal like is portrayed in the sentence of the book on page 21, "Mr Hyde shrank back with a hissing intake of breath", this gives us the impression of Hyde being a snake like creature. Also on page 52 Hyde is described as "crying out like a rat". Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde couldn't be more different. They may be the same person in one sense but they are two completely individual people in any other. Dr Jekyll, for example, loves to socialise and be around friends, whereas Hyde would rather be cooped up in his home in Soho or wondering the streets, alone, and finding people to victimise. They are also very different in appearance as well as personality, Jekyll is described to be "a large, well made, smooth faced man of fifty" whereas Hyde is described as a "very small gentleman" who is "particularly wicked looking". Some things about them are similar though, things that would not change whether you are evil or good, like handwriting or their taste in d�cor. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was not only Dr Jekyll who was given two sides in the novel; both Utterson and Lanyon were also brought into the theme of duality. It seems to completely depend on the environment in which you live and your surroundings as to how much of your good or evil side you can let out without it seeming inappropriate. Stevenson is saying that humans possess both good and evil and it's up to the individual person how much of their evil side they let out. Hyde may have been a product of the repressive Victorian society but he was also the product of a man who wasn't happy with being the perfect role model, everyone needs to be able to let out things and if the only way that Jekyll was able to do that was creating what seems like a monster then that was what had to be done. It would be great to be able to let off steam without having to face the consequences and by creating a good and an evil side to one person Stevenson showed that the only way this is possible is to completely change the human ways. It is therefore shown that if we want to release our evil or bad sides we have to take the consequences for our actions. ...read more.

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