• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Stevenson explore the theme of duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Extracts from this document...


How does Stevenson explore the theme of duality in 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'? By Alasdair Lindsay-Walters Robert Louise Stevenson, born in Edinburgh, is said to have lived a double life, where by which he lead a life where he was a well educated and respectable man, but also one of mystery, where he visited the 'old town' regularly throughout the night. This strongly reflects the character of Dr Jekyll, and it is this theme of duality that dominates the novel. Stevenson was obsessed with this theme, and it can be noticed in many of his other novels. Stevenson seems to have set the novel in Victorian London, but he clearly has Edinburgh in mind too, by doing this he subtly conveys the theme of duality- one part of the city thriving for success and the other, an impoverished area. The book represents the struggle between good and evil, written in the time of a male dominated society where being a respectable figure in society really mattered. It was a short while before the novel was written that Darwin published his theory that mankind descended from primates, this caused much controversy, and with this in the authors mind, he brings in the idea of a 'beast in man'. ...read more.


The glamorous, upper class appearance of the front of the house provides a further example of the contrast in setting as it contrasts heavily with the dingy rear of the house. The suspicious door at the back plays an important role in displaying the dual personality of Henry Jekyll, as it is only Hyde that is seen using this door. In the novel the significance of the back door seems to symbolise secrecy, or perhaps the part of man that should be hidden. Hyde's rooms in Soho again draw on the theme of duality, where the descriptions of the 'high quality furniture' contrast with the opinions of Mr Utterson: 'but the room showed every sign of being recently and hurriedly ransacked'. The theme of duality is most evident in Jekyll's dual personality. He believes that 'man is not truly one, but truly two' and he, as a doctor, attempts to formulate a drug that could physically allow him to split this dual personality. As a result of his farfetched experiments he splits his personality into the malevolent character of Mr Hyde. The reasons for his experiments can be explored by looking into the time in which the novel is set. ...read more.


Hyde clearly represents 'the beast in man' and is described in a number of animalistic images; 'sneering coolness like satan'. His speech is different from other characters. He lacks their verbosity, having no time for social discussion, and when Utterson first confronts him he is described as 'hissing' like a cornered snake. He speaks to Utterson with a short, blunt tone to his speech, staccato sentences which are in the form of unnervingly direct questions: 'how did you know me?'; 'what shall it be?'; 'whose description?'; who are they?'. Finally when he leaves this conversation which had been forced upon him, he bluntly accuses Utterson of having 'lied'. When Utterson complains that this is not fitting language, Hyde 'snarled aloud in a savage laugh' before disappearing into the house. It is not surprising that the lawyer is left with 'a picture of disquietude' after this whirlwind encounter. Enfield's impression of Hyde reveals further contradictions. He is 'cool' yet underneath 'frightened', and although there is nothing particularly displeasing about him physically, he provokes an intense feeling of hatred and evil within all around him. Hyde's appearance is enigmatic, which mysteriously seems to change as he becomes the more dominant demeanour of Jekyll. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson essays

  1. How does Stevenson explore the theme of duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

    As the urban population increased and major towns became over populated and cramped poverty became a problem. The powerful British Empire faced difficult foreign war and inside its gates workers began to demand more power and money. The number of women entering the workforce rose to great numbers and the changes in traditional society terrified and troubled many Britons.

  2. Jekyll and Hyde chapter by chapter summary.

    The importance of this key has been emphasized from the first (see chapter 2, chapter 4). Hyde has had possessions of the key, consequently, he holds the key to the mystery at hand. One does not need to look far for the symbolic significance of a key: it represents power, authority, especially in religious connotations.

  1. With Reference to "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" By Robert Louis Stevenson, explore how ...

    we see this in the houses both men live in, Jekyll in a nice house but Hyde living in a slum around the corner. The working classes were the unfortunate, working many hours of the day, drinking gin well into the night to forget the reality of their lives.

  2. Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde. The Duality Theme

    Therefore, as Jekyll and Hyde are of one body, they are completely different. The good side of Jekyll is when he is himself. When he is Jekyll, he is a very respectable and rich gentleman, representing what was valued in Victorian society!

  1. Discuss Stevenson's representation of evil and the concept of duality in 'Dr Jekyll and ...

    Stevenson's student life is thought to have influenced him in the writing of the novel, by day he was a well-educated student at Edinburgh University and by night he would visit the old town, go out drinking and have fun.

  2. Examine critically with particular reference to the language, the theme of man's duality in ...

    Any evil power cannot get the better of man. But if the evil streak is inborn, only then is there a response to evil. The creation of Mr. Hyde was the beginning of the end of Dr Jekyll. Dr jekyll calls his dual personality Mr. Hyde because the evil, inborn, illicit desires were hidden from human eyes.

  1. Emily Smith Compare the author's treatment of the theme of good and evil in ...

    only light is from the "dull moon" or from the flickering streetlights. These are very symbolistic representations to show the darker side of human nature Stevenson throughout the novel tries to establish through an imagery of evil or menace in which dark streets twist and coil or are draped with fog.

  2. How Do The Writers Golding and Stevenson Explore The Theme Of Good and Evil ...

    He shows this by presenting us with a group of boys who are not quite old enough to have been fully conditioned by society. He places them on an island out of the reach of any law or government. He slowly unravels their progress where we see the instincts of the boys taking over.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work