• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine critically the theme of duality in R.L. Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll &Mr. Hyde'.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Q: Examine critically the theme of duality in R.L. Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde'. _____________________________________________________________ 'Man is not truly one but truly two' - this message depicts the basic plot of the story 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson. R.L. Stevenson was a marvelous novelist who fascinated the world with his originality of ideas and power to tell a story. His narrative skill, the unusual theme and the sensitive use of language makes his story very absorbing and engrossing. This book reflects Stevenson's reaction to the Victorian society, which was known for it's strict rules. Stevenson, through his book, also attacks the men of his time, who were respectable by day but were demons at night. Stevenson was brought up in a Calvinistic background, as his nurse was a follower of Calvinism. From a young age, she instilled into him the consequences of sin and the repentance in hell. Due to this, his book also has some Biblical and mythological references. The book attacks the theme of human infallibility, too- the belief that no human can ever go wrong and that they can never make mistakes. The story is also similar to Mary Shelley's book, Frankenstein, as in both the stories monsters are created, and these monsters eventually destroy their masters and create havoc in the lives of many. Even Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution is reflected in the story as some of the characters, mainly, Edward Hyde, display a lot of characteristics and mannerisms that are animalistic in nature. ...read more.

Middle

It absolutely exhilarated him. 'The temptation of a discovery so singular and profound at last overcame the suggestions of alarm.' Stevenson also portrays the theme of duality in the minor characters of the book like Mr. Utterson and Dr. Lanyon. Utterson was a 'man of rugged countenance' and a lawyer by profession and also Jekyll's friend, who later unravels the mystery. The duality in Utterson's character is clearly seen in the opening lines itself. He was 'never lighted by a smile' and was 'backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary, and yet somehow lovable.' Dr. Lanyon's character too has shades of duality. He was boisterous and he was theatrical as well. Even his physical appearance is slightly contrasting. He was a 'healthy, dapper, red-faced gentleman with a shock of hair prematurely white'. His reaction to Jekyll's discovery, i.e. the transcendental medicine, is contradictory as well. His reaction was a mixture of disapproval and curiosity. Since he was orthodox, and preferred to travel on the beaten path, he disapproved of Jekyll's research as 'scientific heresies' but on the other hand, it was Lanyon's curiosity that ultimately led to his death, as the truth was too shocking for him to bear. The harsh reality was unpalatable and to Lanyon, 'death was an answer to the frightening realities of life'. Hyde's servant, who was a woman, has a streak of duality in her character as well. She was a wicked woman, whose face was smoothed by hypocrisy. She had excellent manners but she was of a sadistic nature. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jekyll's mistake was not only his addiction to the drug; it was also his temptation for evil. Wisdom demands that we should not go to frontiers where we are forbidden to do so. Forbidden knowledge must remain unknown, but Jekyll's dabbling and experimenting crossed all borders and broke all frontiers. One of the messages that the book conveys is that goodness must always be vigilant in the battle against evil, otherwise evil will take command and that is exactly what had happened to Jekyll; which ultimately led to his downfall. Another message that Stevenson tries to convey to the readers through his book is that no human being is totally good or bad- humans are a mixture of both. No one is black i.e. evil and no one is white i.e. good. Every person is a shade of gray. All humans do have an animal instinct in them and also a little evil. It's just been caged in the depths of their personality. But once it comes out, it comes out 'roaring', as it has been suppressed for a long time. By stating this point, Stevenson directly attacks the myth of human perfectibility. The book also deals with the reconciliation of opposites. What Jekyll wanted was to have a good time and a good reputation as well and these are two things that never go together. You have to pay a price for everything and Jekyll escaped this by switching identities. But in the end, Jekyll had to pay a heavy price for his deeds- a price much more than what he had bargained for... ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson essays

  1. How does Stevenson build up tension in 'Dr Jekyll'.

    Finally, chapter titles have been referred to throughout this essay to better identify certain aspects of the novel but the chapter titles are not just labels for the beginning of new sections but are important tools also used to build suspense even before someone has begun reading.

  2. How does Stevenson create mystery and suspense in the opening 8 chapters of ;The ...

    the description of London at the start of the book, and suggesting to the audience this is what the story has been leading up to. This could also be reflective of Mr.Utterson's mood: at the start of the book he was trusting and reliable, at the end he is untrusting and unhappy.

  1. How does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the duality of human nature in Dr Jekyll ...

    allow Hyde control, he must drink a potion to separate the good and the bad which shows that Jekyll clearly isn't 'bad' but has "flaws", as Locke says. Both crimes involve violence directed against innocents in particular. The fact that Hyde ruthlessly murders these harmless beings, who have seemingly done

  2. How does R.L. Stevenson create fear and suspense in the novel " The Strange ...

    The polluted setting of Soho represents the tainted character of Mr. Hyde who possesses a heart corroded of emotions and feelings. Stevenson, has also, effectively integrated the setting with the theme of duality to stress on fear and suspense. He uses the technique to describe Dr Jekyll's cabinet, which has been a witness to remarkably uncanny events.

  1. How does Stevenson create intrigue in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

    Edward Hyde should step into the said Henry Jekyll's shoes without further delay and free from any burthen or obligation, beyond the payments of a few small sums to the members of the doctors household." Mr Utterson is disgraced that his dear friend, Dr Jekyll, would leave his entire wealth to a criminal.

  2. How does Stevenson create an atmosphere of suspense and horror in "Dr Jekyll and ...

    Jekyll describes exactly what the sensation was once the potion had been drunk. "The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death.

  1. Jekyll and Hyde Essay; How does R. L. Stevenson convey the dual nature of ...

    as he first seemed as the starting descriptions says, 'a well-made, smooth faced man of fifty' showing that he is good man and has a respectable character as well. However, the ending of the quote show a complete and utter contradiction as it says ' with something of a slyish

  2. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

    "...born in 18__ to a large fortune..." This quote portrays how Henry Jekyll recognises how he was born into a rich family. The adjectives 'large' and 'fortune' suggests he was born into a highly respected family, something that was of high importance in Victorian England.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work