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How Does Stevenson Depict People and Society in "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"?

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How Does Stevenson Depict People and Society in "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"? "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is one of the most famous examples in literature of the 'double', in which an individual is either split into two or more contrasting personalities, or haunted by a 'shadow' figure who may not be a repressed or discarded part of himself. I would like to focus on the dual nature of man (and about what lies beneath this 'civilised society'); the setting; and the secrecy and hypocrisy of the characters. Jekyll is the main example symbolising the dual nature of man. He even admits it in his full statement of the case: "man is not truly one but truly two"; "both sides of me in earnest". Stevenson tries to point out, beware the hidden sin and don't tamper with nature. The two most prominent themes in "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" are those of the 'misuse of technology' and 'the dark side of man and all its attractions'. These two themes are linked with each other. Hyde is provided with a place of his own in Soho, the outcast area of London. When this creature of darkness is first brought into being, he is small and fragile, and appears to be abnormal, although nobody who meets Hyde can actually give a visual description of this abnormality. ...read more.


when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my progress and position in the world, I stood already committed a profound duplicity of my life. Many a man would have balanced such irregularities, as I was guilty of; but from the high views that I had set before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame. It was thus rather the exacting nature of my aspiration than any particular degradation in my faults, that made me what I was and, with ever a deeper trench thus in the majority of men, severed in me those previous of good and evil which divide and compound man's dual nature". It is interesting and significant that all the characters in the story are isolated. They have no wives, no families, and no close friendship. Jekyll in becoming Hyde is letting loose the evil in him. He experiences a "solution of the bonds of obligation, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul." The greater the aspirations towards the good of Jekyll, the greater the monstrosity of Hyde. Every character seem to have an exterior whom they are not. Jekyll doesn't get any kicks out of being a doctor; he wants to be evil without spoiling his reputation. ...read more.


Utterson is obsessed with this case because of an early irregularity (where the will goes to Hyde if Jekyll died or DISAPPEARED which didn't sound regular to him). Utterson believes that Hyde is blackmailing Jekyll's because of a past misdeed so he thinks Hyde may have something on him. Lanyon has a "smooth face with a slyish cast"; "The geniality, as was the way of the man was somewhat theatrical to the eye". The hypocrisy is obvious in his face, just like with Hyde's maid. Even though the exterior may seem good, the evil always shows through. This is also seen in Jekyll's house, which has cracks so hence proving that the evil always shows through. Jekyll's laboratory is a "windowless structure" and he was always behind "closed doors". This symbolises Victorian society, where many things are done behind closed doors, hidden away. The murder of Carew is Stevenson's idea of a sick comedy. Because the night was cloudless, lit by a nice full moon. Carew was murdered because he had nothing to hide, he was genuinely a good person and Hyde hated this. So what was going on underneath was evil. This symbolises Victorians society, the exterior is all nice, but what goes on underneath is evil. After Carew's death the atmosphere is described as dark, dingy, gloomy and unpleasant. Just like Victorians society. 1 Varun Sivabalan ...read more.

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