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Discuss the idea of duality in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

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Introduction

Discuss the idea of duality in "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" In "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," it is not only Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who share this form of human duality. It is mirrored from the start of the book with the introduction of the central character of the book, Mr. Utterson, the lawyer. The key character which the narration follows seems to be rather a dull character, "never lighted by a smile", "cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse." Yet one of the key motifs of the story, is the duality of human nature and from the first page, Stevenson employs it by also describing Utterson as "lovable." "When the wine was to his taste, something eminently beaconed from his eye, something indeed which never found his way into his talk, but which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner face... He was austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify his taste of vintages." Utterson also drinks gin, which at the time was a cheap-working class drink. This also is accentuated by "drinking it alone" as if he has his own secrets, not wanting anyone else to see Utterson drink gin. The gin also refers to Stevenson's own alcoholism. Again, this sense of a double nature is seen in this quotation, "he enjoyed the theatre, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years." We then encounter Mr. Utterson's close acquaintance, Mr. Enfield who is the complete opposite of his friend, a double. Utterson and his kinsman, Richard Enfield, are so completely different from each other that people who know them are totally puzzled by their frequent walks together, "it was a nut to crack for many, what these two could see in each other and what subject they could find in common". Yet, as with the double, man is often drawn to someone totally opposite from himself. ...read more.

Middle

Moreover, neither Jekyll in his final confession nor the third-person narrator in the rest of the book ever provides any details of Hyde's sordid behaviour and secret vices. It is unclear whether these narrative silences are due to a failure of language or a refusal to use it. London, in Chapter 8, from the description of some areas by Stevenson as having "a great air of wealth and comfort" there is this sense of duality, as Stevenson suggests it is isolated, "never seen that part of London so deserted." Joseph Conrad described London as "The dark consumer of the world's light." As Utterson and Poole, Jekyll's butler, hear the strange voice, Poole tells Utterson about the incident he saw and the unknown character which he cannot place as Hyde or Jekyll, "Sir, if it was my master, why had he a mask upon his face? If it was my master, why did he cry out like a rat, and run from me?" This character is half Jekyll and half Hyde. The butler also describes the voice of Jekyll/Hyde as "weeping like a woman or a lost soul." There is this sense of pity for Hyde. When Utterson and Poole break down the door, they see the body of a man, described as "it" as though the narration is unable to distinguish as to whether it is Jekyll or Hyde. "It" is wearing clothes of the "doctor's bigness" as though there is a semblance of Jekyll and Hyde. The mystery of the duality is increased by Utterson's assumption that Hyde has murdered Dr. Jekyll and then taken poison, "the smell of kernels [arsenic]." The search for Jekyll's body still leaves the reader in suspense over the Jekyll/Hyde duality, especially when the search for Dr. Jekyll's body is pointless, "Nowhere was there any trace of Henry Jekyll, dead or alive." There is also the further duality of Jekyll and Hyde as Utterson discovers a pious work, annotated in Jekyll's own hand "with startling blasphemies" which may actually be Hyde's hand but in a different slope as Guest earlier pointed out. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jekyll had been a sinner before, which may have suggested brothels, "it was as an ordinary secret sinner, that I at last fell before the assaults of temptation." He chose to misbehave as Jekyll which led to Hyde's awakening within himself, "this brief condescension to my evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul." Jekyll soon begins to appear as Hyde without the drug. In the duality between Jekyll and Hyde, there is only one aspect that remains similar and that is the ability to "write my own hand" to share the same handwriting. Jekyll's hatred of Hyde due to the ascendancy Hyde has over him and Hyde's hatred Jekyll as he has the power to destroy Hyde again reinforces this question as to who is writing this account, "The powers of Hyde seemed to have grown with the sickliness of Jekyll. Jekyll then soon begins to pity Hyde, "But his love of life is wonderful...I find it in my heart to pity him." Jekyll it seems is writing, and he feels his own goodness and respectability are against the love of life. Trapped in his house and the gallows awaiting Hyde, who has become more animal like described as having, "ape-like spite", Jekyll commits suicide, "I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end." The irony is though that even though Jekyll commits suicide, Hyde regains dominancy and it is his body that Utterson and Poole find. The duality in the book is not only demonstrated by Jekyll and Hyde but also by some of the key features like the two houses, the dingy laboratory and the sociable front of Jekyll's house, London and Utterson. The term of the two characters, two opposite poles forged in one is a term still coined today. It now lives an independent life from Stevenson's creation. ?? ?? ?? ?? Khushaal Ved - College - English - Mr. Griffiths 23/2/06 ...read more.

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