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How does Stevenson Convey to the Reader the Nature of Duality in 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson Convey to the Reader the Nature of Duality in 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'? It has long been debated that there are two sides to the human mind. Many philosophers have stressed on the fact that human beings are 'dual creatures'. There is the duality of good and evil, right and wrong, joy and despair. There always is the desire to do something which is against the society, against the laws, although this varies from person to person. Robert Stevenson brings the possibility of another self in one person to life in his creation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His novel is a rich tale of the duality of mankind. We all have a split personality in a sense, we have two sides to us: right and wrong. There is a Mr. Hyde in all of us: anger, frustration, murderous thoughts all prevail in us although we have evolved so much. Morals, education, helping and unselfishness are the Jekyll side of us. Stevenson believed that people knew they had a bad side, but they all refuse to accept the truth, as the 'dark side' is so unpleasant. The novel demonstrates how innocent curiosity about the darker elements of our nature can soon get out of hand, how the evil triumphs over good if let out of control. Stevenson portrays duality in almost all of his characters, mainly Dr. ...read more.

Middle

At night, the respectable people used to go to Soho. This shows the duality of the men of those times. Even the house of Jekyll has a dual appearance. The back of the house 'bore in every feature, the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence'. There are no windows and just a single door. This could mean that the human mind is closed and is unable to reach out to others. The laboratory never sees sunlight and is always filled with darkness. This reflects Hyde's personality. Meanwhile, the front of Jekyll's house was beautifully decorated and seems very rich and inviting. It 'wore a great air of wealth and comfort'. The cabinet door also can be seen as a powerful symbol. Jekyll lies inside the room all the time and the truth is prevented from being found out. The door is a passage to the truth. Hyde can be symbolic of 'the beast in man'. Throughout the book, Stevenson describes him, using animal imagery. He is described as 'hissing' like a snake and moving through like a 'juggernaut'. Poole also tells Utterson that the man in the room 'moves like a monkey' and cries out 'like a rat'. The atmosphere too is a very effective symbol. The fog that always lies in the city symbolizes that the fact that there is fog over people's mind and it prevents them from seeing the truth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Every person is a shade of grey. By stating this point, Stevenson implies that we are imperfect humans. In conclusion, Stevenson explores the duality, which lies within man very well and also describes this in Jekyll's suicide note when he writes, "all human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil". Stevenson uses various methods such as the characters, the symbolism, the narrative technique and also the language use to explore the 'nature of duality' in man. Stevenson wanted to show the world, which at the time was new to the psychological and philosophical ideas, the dual nature of man and idea of split personality. Darwin's theory of evolution and Freud's creation of psychoanalysis are well portrayed in this novel. Overall, Stevenson clearly implies that humans are a mixture of 'good' and evil' and challenges the 'human perfectibility', which was presumed for the upper class at the time. I particularly enjoyed this novel as it was exploring various themes at the same time. One interesting point is that, when Jekyll made up the 'transforming draught', it never was intended to turn him evil. It was just his desires which propelled him to being Hyde. The potion just acted as a catalyst and in the end it was Jekyll who destroyed himself. We had discussed this in class and it struck me as it wasn't an evil potion. This also shows that Jekyll wanted to break through the Victorian laws and meet his inner desires, which leads us back to the 'nature of duality'. ?? ?? ?? ?? Siddharth G, Gr9 ...read more.

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