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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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Introduction

Stevenson's novella, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, explores duality in an environment of increasing self-doubt and fear The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is one of Stevenson's best works, with many ideas and philosophies embedded in its pages. The main idea that Stevenson conveys to the reader during the book is the idea of mans duality. Stevenson believed that there were two parts to man, the morally correct and the evil. His portrayal of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde incorporates and reflects his beliefs about the duality of man and mans susceptibility to temptation and greed. Stevenson's idea of self-doubt is that man is prone to insecurity and the obsessive nature of moral wellbeing. During the novella he also portrays that members of Victorian society feared the morally wrong and the power of the advancing technology that made man control of his own destiny, instead of being controlled by it. During Victorian society, citizens believed that there was one absolute ruler who was the creator of mankind. Throughout the book, Jekyll bears strong notations towards God; "I swear to god" and "o god, Utterson, what a lesson" etc. However, at the time the book was written Charles Darwin was putting his beliefs into the public eye and creating increasing controversy about the origins of man. His book, On the Origin of Species, put forward many ideas that we now believe to be true and correct. ...read more.

Middle

Anyone having read the book will know that Henry Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde when having consumed a special potion. The brew awakens a dormant or hidden character; this is emphasized by a physical mutation. This physical mutation from a tall, slim, man of older age to a, younger, stronger, smaller and hairier build has an important imagery to it. The contrast between the suave, distinguished gentleman and the impulsive "animal" is notable. Dr. Jekyll's clothes do not fit Mr. Hyde; they are too small for him. Hyde therefore personifies the idea that the primitive evil is smaller, and that it can be controlled. Dr. Jekyll is a socially acceptable, repressed individual who still has a dark side. He can hide it though. Hyde on the other hand is the completely liberated. Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde don't represent 'good' and 'evil'. The experiment described in Jekyll's letter didn't turn out as it was intended, which was to fully separate good and evil, with a character embodying each side. Instead, Hyde seems to personify the pure evil side of human nature. But Jekyll on the other hand, is not of pure good nature, he represents the control one has over primitive spontaneous passions and desires. Dr. Jekyll thus symbolizes the idea of repression in a respectable individual. Hyde is completely liberated from Jekyll's repression through the potion. He is the boundless entity that gives in to all desires. ...read more.

Conclusion

While a respectable man like Carew may use it as a symbol of power and refinery, another person who contains "ape-like fury" may use it as a weapon to kill. Jekyll's house also symbolises duality. While it is very well presented and furnished, beneath its depths is Jekyll's laboratory. This room is completely different from the main house as it contains many dark mysteries and is the place where Jekyll "created" Hyde. Another main symbol of the representation of duality is the door in the first chapter of the book. When Hyde goes in the building to write a cheque, the cheque is written out in a different name. This door symbolises the fact that even though it is very well presented, it still conceals a dark mystery behind it. This idea closely relates to Victorian society at the time. In Victorian society morality and outer representation was highly important. Victorians believed that you would be judged on your "appearance" and not your personality. The moral of this interesting story is that which many Christians recite daily: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". One needs to be in control of their darker side of human nature, and to stop this seed of evil from growing larger. Perhaps, the moral is that we cannot control evil once unleashed. Jekyll tries to 'use' Hyde to give in to his temptations without damaging his social position. This spirals out of control. The cost of Jekyll's curiosity turned out to be a deadly reversal of dominance. ?? ?? ?? ?? Anthony St John-Bond The Judd School ~ 1 ~ ...read more.

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