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How does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the duality of human nature in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

How does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the duality of human nature in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Robert Louis Stevenson incorporated the ideology of the duality of human nature into his Victorian thriller novella: 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. This does not emerge fully until the last chapter. The text not only de-familiarizes the duality of human nature as its central theme but forces us to wonder the properties of this duality and to consider each of the novella's chapters as we weigh up the various theories. Jekyll asserts that "man is not truly one, but truly two," implying that everyone has two parts to their personality, 'Good' and 'Bad' instead of just yourself and he imagines the human soul as the battleground for an "angel" and a "fiend," both opposing forces each struggling for mastery. The novella tackles many different theories that circulated at the time. When the novella was published, there was uproar that it suggested we have two parts to our personalities. This theory went against many influential Victorian religious beliefs. Robert Louis Stevenson's believed that people had a dual personality and this is echoed in the novella. The inspiration for the novella could have come from many different people and events, most notably: a dream that Stevenson had repeatedly as a child relevant event about Deacon Brody who was a cabinet maker by day and murderer by night. Also during his time in the Samoan Island a man named Dr Hyde greatly insulted his friends, from that could have and most probably did give birth to the Jekyll and Hyde characters. Robert Louis Stevenson, the author, was born in 1850 in Edinburgh, and you can see the divisions between scientific and religious views reflected in the story from his childhood. His mother, being very religious, had him baptised whereas his father did not approve of his writing and thought he should have a more scientific past-time. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout the novella the language used to describe the main characters, especially Jekyll and Hyde are consistent with what they're meant to symbolise. For example, Hyde, is referred as being, "ape-like", a simile and "hideous", an adjective both echo the idea that Hyde is Jekyll's 'animal like', and 'primitive' side, by comparing Hyde to an ape this also emphasizes the Victorian idea of duality of human nature where the 'evil' part has the more disgusting and unattractive traits, whereas the 'good' part of you has the more respectable and 'like-able' features. According to the remarks made by observers, Hyde appears 'repulsively ugly' and 'deformed', 'small', 'shrunken', and 'hairy': these adjectives symbolize his moral hideousness and warped ethics. The connection between such ugliness and Hyde's wickedness might have been seen as more than symbolic. Many people believed in the science of physiognomy, which was, that someone could identify a criminal by physical appearance. His hairiness may indicate that he is not so much an evil side of Jekyll as the embodiment of Jekyll's instincts, the animalistic core beneath Jekyll's polished exterior, another point is where Stevenson gives the door Hyde enters, human qualities such as calling it, "sinister", which is an example of personification. The door is also mentioned later on in the novella where it's referred to, "two door's from one corner", seemingly an oxymoron where the door can be interpreted as two physical entrances to the Jekyll residence which Hyde uses, but also the mental entrance to Jekyll's 'good' side and Hyde's 'bad' side placed next to each other to symbolize the two halves of Jekyll's human nature. The simple name "Hyde" which consists of a single syllable is a good way to name the character, and they're many ways where this is evident, one of those is: "Jekyll", consists of two syllables so "Hyde", implying that Hyde, is hidden or 'hides' within Jekyll however it could also symbolize half of what Jekyll is, Jekyll's 'bad' side. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also they mention, 'door' which becomes more important as the story goes on proving to be of use to Hyde and Jekyll as a physical and theological escape to each other's acts. It is at this point that due to both of the men's disapproval of gossiping, that they stop the conversation, and continue their walk. The novella consists of a long anecdote started at the beginning and ends with a summary of Dr Jekyll's point of view. Jekyll mainly explains their story and that he will transform into Hyde again, soon and will not be able to stop it. The idea of Jekyll and Hyde is for the reader to think about the two different sides to human nature, and how things can 'possibly' go wrong when you lose all control over the 'evil' side of your personality, as inevitably happens in the novella. I think that Stevenson, who was plagued throughout his life by illness, wrote this story to share his own experiences, and views in a controversial religious and scientific situation at the time of publication. Throughout Stevenson's life he battled with respiratory problems, consistently moving from city to city, and even to different countries most notably the Samoan islands and I believe that this is just one of the 'demons' in his life, or part of his own 'evil' human nature that led him to write this story. No one philosopher can be linked directly to the story since the text grapples at parts of Locke's and Hobbes' theories. A possible moral of this interesting story is that which many Christians recite daily, (yet another religious link to the story): "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil", and that 'one' needs to be in control of their darker side of human nature, and to stop this evil from growing larger as happens in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or perhaps, the moral is that we cannot control evil once unleashed. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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