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Examine what you think to be some of the underlying thematic concerns of Stevenson's novella.

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Examine what you think to be some of the underlying thematic concerns of Stevenson's novella. This novella, although unapparent, is intertwined with many allegorical undertones. Stevenson uses the book to criticise Victorian society and its hypocritical existence. The most significant thematic concern of the novella is the continually revisited theme of the duality of man and the camouflaged evil that lies deep within the human race. Stevenson was writing before the period in which the great psychologist Sigmund Freud was researching the human mind, so in some ways Stevenson was ahead of his time in resolving the 'mystery of the mind'. Stevenson's novella, after being added to by his wife on the book's revision, contained much evidence of these theories of the human psyche. Armed with this weapon, Stevenson used the novella to attack the hypocritical ways of the Victorian society he lived in. The theme plays on the idea of a part of the unconscious, the 'id'. The id is the Hyde part of a human, which is of course repressed, undeveloped and primitive, with the taste for hunting and sex. Then on the other hand is the 'superego', your conscience and morality, with the "floater" between the two, the 'ego'. Jekyll stresses that, "man is not truly one, but truly two." ...read more.


Cunningly, these images are accompanied by the more sinister, brutal murder of the "sweet man" Carew. This is clearly a conflict between good and evil. The addressing of evil is also a major aspect in the book. Duality and evil are linked, as the Id may be considered the evil part of Jekyll. Jekyll even admits to this, "All human beings.... are commingled out of good and evil." Stevenson has not only portrayed the Id (Hyde) as mentally primitive, but physically too. His evil resonated in every feature, "there was something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable." Hyde is always described as deformed, small and shrunken, that leads us to believe that over the many years of being repressed, Hyde has not been given the chance to flourish or strengthen in any way. This primitive nature is supported by a repetitive use of animalistic adjectives and adverbs for Hyde. "Hissing intake of breath." "Snarled aloud into a savage laugh." "A mere animal terror." Utterson exclaims, "I read Satan's signature upon his face." Once again placing Hyde akin to Satan. But even with this likeness to animals, Hyde shows a much more sinister streak. Animals kill for the need for food or in protecting themselves; an animal does not feel pleasure in taking lives, whereas Hyde seems to. ...read more.


This may be interpreted as Stevenson's plea to society to observe the damage that alcohol can inflict. At the beginning of the novella, Hyde creeps through a cellar door; Doors are traditionally powerful and mysterious. In Genesis 4:7, there is a passage containing, "sin lieth at the door." The bars on the once clean windows symbolize something too. The bars imprison Jekyll from Utterson and the world. This is not just a literal statement but also a statement that concludes Jekyll's feelings; Jekyll feels imprisoned by the rules, regulations and expectations of society. This is why he is driven to partake in his, "scientific balderdash". One more symbol is apparent. The key to the laboratory is a symbol of power and authority and in this case, the key holds satanic power, therefore Hyde is the one who has the power to change back into Jekyll. When Utterson and Poole search for the key and fail to find it, they cannot overcome evil. This also means that they do not have access to evil, as they are sinless in the story. It is clear that Jekyll started with selfish intentions when he strived for a better self, this is why the experiment only stripped Jekyll of the Jekyll veneer, leaving the Hyde interior. And that Jekyll is in fact a host for the constant bombardment of metaphors, especially with hypocrisy as Jekyll represents hypocrisy and the Victorian society itself. "In Hyde, you have no Jekyll but in Jekyll, you always have some Hyde" ...read more.

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