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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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"Discuss how Stevenson presents duality in 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' In this essay I will show how Robert Louis Stevenson has presented duality in his novella 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. The novella is about a respectable gentleman, Dr Jekyll, and how, under the pressure of high society in Victorian England, experiments with potions to eventually come up with one that would turn him into Mr Hyde, a disreputable and evil man. Written in 1886, the novella was based around the pressure to be respectable that Robert Louis Stevenson himself felt in high society of the Victorian era. It was also influenced by scandals of the time such as Deacon Brodie. Brodie, who suffered from gambling debts, was a cabinet maker for people in the higher class. To try and pay off his debts he would break into the cabinets that he had sold and steal the valuables inside. This fits into the story of Jekyll and Hyde since Jekyll is a nice, respectable gentleman who turns into an evil, lower class man, Hyde. There was also a growing awareness of chemistry and psychology at the time the novella was written. Sigmund Freud, a famous chemist and psychologist, convinced people that duality did exist in humans - that in one person there could be both good and evil, such as in Jekyll and Hyde, who were the same person, with the help of a potion, but Jekyll was good and Hyde evil. Since the novella was written in 1886 it was targeted at Victorian people. When it was first published it sold around 40,000 copies, mainly to the higher classes of Victorian England. They would have seen it as a twist on a horror book. The Victorians were into gothic books, except that they were always set in foreign countries and in the past. 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' differs to these stories since it was set in London and in the then present day. ...read more.


"...found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire to carry my head high..." The quote above portrays how, although Jekyll wants to be happy, he believes the only way would be one that was irreputable. However, he does not wish to lose his place in the upper class of society and he does not wish to lose his friends, both of which would happen if he did what he desired to do to become happier. This therefore is what led Jekyll to create the potion, as well as the written version of events, for Utterson to read, in 'Henry Jekyll's full statement of the case' where Dr Jekyll writes his version, and the truth of what happened in the last months of his life. "Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures..." This reveals how Jekyll had been hiding secrets since before creating the mixture that would turn him to Hyde, hiding what it was that was making him happy. The verb 'concealed' tells the reader that Jekyll was being very careful about his pleasures. It conveys the importance of nobody finding out about Jekyll's secret more than if Stevenson had written the verb 'hid' instead. "...already committed to a profound duplicity of life." This conveys one of the themes in the novella, the theme of duplicity, and how it is not only in the settings and the characters but that the characters knew about it. We know this because of the adjective 'duplicity' - portraying to the reader how Jekyll has two lives, however different they are. "...morbid sense of shame." This quote reveals how although Jekyll wanted to be happy, he is ashamed of how his life has turned out. The alliteration of the 's' sound in 'sense' and 'shame' enforces the idea, in the readers mind, that he is ashamed of being Mr Hyde, of what he has done and is still doing as Mr Hyde and that both of these irreputable things are making him happy. ...read more.


The fog described is more likely to be smog from the factories, since the novella is set in the Victorian times. However, it does cast an eerie effect on the image conjured in the readers mind, would have made them think something sinister was about to happen. There are many locked doors in Stevenson's novella. This symbolises how secretive the story is, Utterson hypothetically being stopped solving the mystery of Jekyll and Hyde, by doors not able to be opened until another section of the mystery is found, and the actual looked doors that Jekyll shuts himself up behind. The narrative structure also shows duality since in the first seven chapters the narrative is third person. "...resumed the lawyer." This shows the third person narrative structure of 'The Last Night'. However, the last two chapters are written in first person, 'Dr Lanyon's Narrative' is written by Lanyon from his point of view and tells of what he knows about Jekyll and Hyde, and explains the cause of his death. The last chapter is also in first person, however this is from the perspective of Dr Jekyll himself, who explains everything that had happened. "I rose from my place..." These show duality because the first seven chapters, although written in third person, are all about Utterson and what he does to try and unravel the mystery between Jekyll and Hyde. They also show Utterson's thoughts and feelings. The chapters are all arranged to follow what happens to Utterson and the titles are all to do with what happens within the chapter itself (and give a clue to what the chapter is about). The last two are in the order they are because that way Lanyon doesn't repeat what the reader knows from reading Jekyll's chapter, if they were the other way around. In this essay I have shown how Robert Louis Stevenson has presented the theme of duality in his novella 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. I have achieved this by analysing the language of the text that describes the characters, weather, buildings and the narrative structure. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rebecca Holland ...read more.

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