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How does Stevenson explore the theme of duality in the novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and how does this reflect the time in which it was written?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson explore the theme of duality in the novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and how does this reflect the time in which it was written? In Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde the theme of duality is explored in such a way that fascinated the audience in which it was initially written for. For centuries people have been interested in all things unknown, especially the paranormal. However, what really struck the Victorians was the concept that beneath a person's composure there could be darker elements to their personality that are kept unseen, meaning that no matter how they presented themselves it would just be a fa�ade. The idea of being able to change into another person to do whatever you like and live exactly how you wanted would have been a particular interest with Victorian readers as it is likely that they would have been able to directly relate to Dr Jekyll's character, who felt that for all his life he had been forced to live a certain way and to only show one side of himself, The novella fits in with other pieces of gothic literature written around the same time as they pushed forward the boundaries of the unknown and were originally written as a reaction to the strictness and the suppression of a Victorian society. ...read more.

Middle

This could be related to the characters: for example, the dark side would be describing Hyde while the light side would be a description of Dr Jekyll. However, this quote could also relate to Jekyll's workplace as it is hidden away in the darkness behind the house and this gives the feeling of mystery and secrecy. Another example of this also relates to Jekyll's house. One side of his house has "freshly painted shutters, well-polished brasses and general cleanliness" this reflects the side of Jekyll he shows to people, much like this would be the side of his house people would see. The idea that his shutters are "freshly painted" gives us an idea that they are painted frequently and is ever changing, just like how Jekyll is ever changing into Hyde. It could also show that a lot of care and attention is put into this part of the house, whereas we see the complete opposite a the back of the house which "showed no window" this part of the house is where Hyde enters and it is where Jekyll's laboratory is, this definitely suggests that bad things happen in there and that he doesn't want anyone to see in and perhaps doesn't want to see out either. The appearance of the back of the house is very different to the front, Stevenson describes it as "discoloured... ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows duality in his own actions, the way he manages to do such awful things but feel very good and calm about them. Hyde is also described as being like a animal. When he murders Sir Danvers Carew, Stevenson tells us that he behaves "with ape-like fury"; apes are an animal which humans were evolved from, meaning that Hyde is still not fully a human being. Humans are the only animal so far known to have a conscience, by comparing Hyde to a animal Stevenson is emphasising the fact that he might not be either. I believe that the moral of the novella "the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is that although it is acceptable for us to indulge in our desires, if we do it to much bad things will happen, however if we completely repress everything, we have an equal chance of destroying ourselves and I think he wanted to get that message across to Victorian readers especially. Dr Jekyll tried to find a way that meant he could enjoy all this and still live his life as a well-liked doctor to, but as we see from the story, part of living is learning and that you cannot do everything you wish to do. The character of Hyde was Stevenson's way of representing the animal and primitive ways all human beings have, which is possibly more visible than we think, despite the fronts we put on to disguise that. ...read more.

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