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Discuss the ways in which Robert Louis Stevenson explores the theme of duality in the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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Discuss the ways in which Robert Louis Stevenson explores the theme of duality in the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886 and knowingly or not he entwined it with the theme of duality all through the book. Evidence of this can be found all through the book, such as Dr Jekyll being kind, respectable and intelligent while Mr Hyde is brutal, despised and pure evil. Duality can be described as 'two fundamental principles, often in opposition to each other' and this is found frequently throughout the book. Another way of putting it is that duality is 'a classification into two opposed parts or subclasses'. This is important as Jekyll and Hyde differed greatly in attitude and form, showing duality. Stevenson's childhood is a big factor in the theme of duality. He suffered from breathing problems, was undernourished and smaller than most, which was similar to Hyde leading many people to speculate that he based it on himself, though there is no evidence of that. Robert Louis Stevenson was brought up by a strictly religious nurse called 'Cummy' who made him believe that he could go to hell every night, resulting in him finishing most sentences with 'if I am spared' shows he thought he could be, like Hyde. ...read more.


It was not only Jekyll and Hyde that have a theme of duality in, Stevenson's other book 'The Body Snatcher' which has a respectable doctor, who wanted bodies to examine and the legal amount of convicted criminals did not measure up to their needs. Therefore, he went to the black market and got bodies, eventually ending up doing it himself. This showed that Stevenson had explored the theme of duality before his book on Jekyll and Hyde. Even from the very beginning Stevenson is introducing duality with Mr Utterson being 'Lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable'. He uses four adjectives to get the readers attention by using two similar pairs and then a contrasting finish. 'Yet somehow lovable' gives the image of a kind, matured man who has a multitude of views about him. This again echoes the theme of duality and starts to bring in the duality of a character. The characters emphasise the duality in their appearance with Hyde being ugly and deformed, Utterson describes him with 'he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation' showing Hyde to be repulsive and his 'long scrawny fingers' which are associated with the lower class, whereas Dr Jekyll is described as being quite large showing ...read more.


Also blood is usually thick and strong so 'thin' must show some sort of weakness as he realises the loss of control. 'Exquisitely could also have been used to describe Hyde and show some sort of attachment to the side that had given him enjoyment in life. All these show that the two extremes of his nature cannot remain separate for much longer and one side would have to fold, the stronger, evil side takes over and starts to reach freedom. Jekyll also said that the potion 'severed me in those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound a man's dual nature'. Stevenson used 'severed to show that it was a sharp, swift cut of his two sides, the evil one and the good. He also uses 'provinces to describe the personalities showing that they are not straight black and white lines but that the difference of good and ill can be faded and hazy. Jekyll believes that man has a dual nature and Stevenson may have put this in to implant ideas in your mind. Therefore, duality is expressed by Jekyll in his last chapter. In conclusion, Stevenson explores the theme of duality in many ways through the duality of the setting, the characters and Stevenson's life which was as split in two as Jekyll and Hyde. ...read more.

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