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How does Stevenson Explore the Divided Nature of Human personality and Victorian Society in The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson Explore the Divided Nature of Human personality and Victorian Society in The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? In my essay I am going to discuss the story called The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This story is a pre 20th century gothic novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson. When I say a gothic novel I don't mean something of the dark ages but rather a story that has a dark deep story which ventures into the unknown. This story is typical of the 19th century when people had radical ideas which were questionable to those in Victorian society. The story starts with a person called Mr Hyde trampling over a young girl and producing a cheque with Dr Jekyll's name on it to pay for the damage done to the girl. Later Dr Jekyll's friends find that he has made a will to a man named Mr Hyde that was to be given to him under doctor Jekyll's death or disappearance. His friends think that he has been threatened or forced to make a will to this wicked man Mr Hyde. Later in the story the whole mystery was revealed to us. Dr Jekyll was involved in an experiment which was supposed to break the bond between good and evil. This barrier of good and evil could be put in comparison with Soho and Cavendish Square. The experiment that Dr Jekyll was involved in made his evil side come out which was Mr Hyde but to do this Dr Jekyll had to drink a potion. After a while Hyde's appearance could no longer be controlled with the potion but came out when ever Dr Jekyll dosed off. This is why Dr Jekyll made a will to Hyde because he was afraid that he will never be able to turn back to his normal self and Hyde will have money to spend instead of having nothing. ...read more.

Middle

There we see that he was very vague with his own friend, which is a very strange position. You could at least explain to your friend but since Jekyll had Hyde to hide he glazed over the subject leaving Utterson mystified. There is another example of this in the case of Dr Lanyon when he was speaking to Utterson about Jekyll he said "I swear to God I will never set eyes on him again." He did not say why he would not set eyes on him. Even though he was saving the reputation of Jekyll and keeping to his doctor's agreement not to release any information he still should of told Utterson because when Jekyll turned into Hyde lives were at risk as Hyde was a person of evil. So Stevenson shows that Victorian people of the upper class still strayed from their strict boundaries and were hypocritical they did this because they had something to 'Hyde'. Using a number of different techniques and images Stevenson creates a dark and menacing setting for the novel. Most of the action in the novel that in involves Hyde takes place under the cover of darkness and Stevenson frequently reminds us with this by giving us images of light and dark. Light can change people's moods all the way from bright and cheery to the opposite of dark and menacing. It is interesting that Stevenson uses a dark "black winter morning" when Enfield meets Hyde. This dramatic tension something bad had happened at that time hence Stevenson uses darkness to depict something sinister. Stevenson also refers quite a lot to lamps as they have to do with light. In the story it says "My way lay through a part of town where there was literally nothing to be seen but lamps." This depicts darkness in other words evil, and there is some good, the lamps, but where there is too much darkness and too few lamps it is like evil overwhelming the good. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because of the hypocrisy he witnessed, and was going through himself he wanted to bring to peoples attention that the seemingly perfect upper and middle classes were not what they seemed but on the whole a hypocritical bunch of people. Now days the things that the poor got up to don't seem as bad but when we look to authority we find it shocking to learn what goes on. An example of this is of Bill Clinton. We all know the story that he was having an affair with someone else when he was married and managed to hide it for some time. So think again, hypocrisy still goes on today. This essay had a great deal to do with the Victorian culture as this idea of duality perplexed many doctors and scientists of that day Stevenson tried to find the explanation for himself and no doubt other people of the day had tried to find the answer. Like the person who wrote a short story called Markhiem that had characters living double lives in it. Stevenson had a fetish about this idea of duality, it was no doubt because of his illness and inability to spend much time outside his bedroom and therefore his nurse told him stories about the differences between life of good and evil with the life of evil leading to a life in hell. This made him have terrible nightmares which stuck to him through out his whole life this is why in his stories he described Hyde as having the mark of 'Satan'. Stevenson recalls his nurse telling him "there are but two camps in the world - one perfectly pious and respectable, one of the perfectly mundane and vicious: one mostly on its knees and singing hymns, the other on the high road to the gallows and the bottomless pit." This no doubt made him think of the idea of recidivism because if one were so vicious they must be nearer to an animal instead of a human. 2 ...read more.

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