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How does Robert Louis Stevenson use character, setting, narrative and language to explore the theme of duality in the Victorian novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

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Introduction

Fiona Galsworthy 10 OL How does Robert Louis Stevenson use character, setting, narrative and language to explore the theme of duality in the Victorian novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? In the novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson uses duality of characters and setting to explore the struggle between good and evil. In horror novels the struggle between reason and emotion was often used along with the struggle of good versus evil. In every human-being there is the idea that we are split between good and evil, "man is not truly one but truly two." Meaning we actually have both good and evil in us. According to Revelations, the Bible, good and evil has occurred ever since Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. They had disobeyed God and were then given free will. This meant they now knew of good and evil and could chose which they wish to be, everybody was then born with the potential to be entirely evil. To a Victorian audience this idea can be unnerving as most Victorians were deeply religious and believed that if you sinned you would be banished to hell for eternity. ...read more.

Middle

Unlike Hyde who was "particularly small and particularly wicked looking." This makes him sound evil and perverse. As Jekyll only had a small bit of evil in him this may be why Hyde is so small in comparison to Jekyll. Hyde is also associated with apes; "with ape-like fury", and this could be linked to Darwin's theory of evolution. His ideas were that humans had evolved from more primitive creatures like apes and that God had not created the world in seven days. When Jekyll conducts his experiment it is as though Hyde is more primitive than normal man and that it is not just a struggle between good and evil but also between the developed man and the primitive. Robert Louis Stevenson also had duality in his own life and character. Where he grew up in Edinburgh was an auspicious, middle class �'New Town', however, there was also the 'old black city' which was riddled with 'poverty, disease and overcrowding.' The duality of his character occurred when he was seventeen. He would spend the day being respectable but at night we would become corrupt by leading a bohemian lifestyle. The character of Jekyll may have developed from his double life that Stevenson had led. ...read more.

Conclusion

It also gives us a clear overview of the other characters in the novel. Towards the end of the novel the narrative changes to first person in Dr Lanyon's narrative and Henry Jekyll's narrative. This way we can get other character's points of view and can empathise with them. Another literary technique used is the non-chronological order of narrative intrigues the reader, plus it makes the reader a more active participant in the novel making them feel they can really understand the characters feelings and actions. An example of this technique is when we find out why Dr Lanyon died of severe shock towards the end of the novel however, we were told about the shock he had earlier on in the book. Duality can be seen in many aspects of Stevenson's book and own life. He uses the characters successfully to convey the ideas of duality in humans and uses the setting and atmosphere to support all these ideas. He also used ideas that many might be afraid to use for example he describes Hyde with having 'ape-like fury' which could be linked to Darwin's theory of evolution. ...read more.

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