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How does Stevenson present good and evil in "Jekyll and Hyde"?The Victorian era in general also had its own dual personality, the rich and the poor, the saved and the fallen

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Pre-1914 Prose Coursework How does Stevenson present good and evil in "Jekyll and Hyde"? The Victorian era in general also had its own dual personality, the rich and the poor, the saved and the fallen and the worthy and the disgraced. Cities were no different. Stevenson grew up in Edinburgh, a large Victorian city, not unlike London. Within both cities there were two distinctly different areas. The high class town houses and mansions and the slums and squalid flats where the impoverished and outcasts dwelt. The Victorian era placed high expectations on the respectable classes and dismissed those who did not meet these expectations. Stevenson demonstrates the fact that the pressures existing in high society were so great that many of the rich and respectable lived a double-life of propriety and shame. They went out at night and through dark alleys to experience what went on in the other half of the city. Here, among the dim lit alleyways and under the protection of darkness, the upper class were frequently involved in such illicit activities as gambling, prostitution, brawling, heavy drinking and opium taking. They wanted both to break from the restraining shackles of society and to experience the thrill of something dangerous that was shunned by the tight morals that governed the upper class. ...read more.


This concept of zerrissenheit stays with us to this day as recently the famous celebrity Vinnie Jones commented on his lack of control over his temper saying, "I'm like a Jekyll and Hyde... I need help." This shows that the idea of zerrissenheit portrayed by the book stuck in Victorian minds and still survives today even thought the book was written nearly 120 years ago. Jekyll is an example used to convey that there are two sides to people, one a pure evil and the other more balanced and normal, "Man is not one but truly two." Jekyll also imposes upon audiences the fact that if the evil partition of the body is let out too often then it grows stronger and gradually takes control. This is portrayed in the fact that Hyde becomes bigger and it takes more of the tincture to return Jekyll to himself. "I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming incorporated with my second and worse / the body of Edward Hyde had grown in stature". However Jekyll realises this himself, but crucially, does nothing to stop it and so sways us towards the opinion that he was the master of his own undoing. ...read more.


Jekyll then finally realises what he has done is wrong and he becomes repentant and is filled with remorse when considering Hyde's brutal murder of Sir Danvers Carew. "As the acuteness of my remorse began to die away, it was succeeded by a sense of joy. / My reason wavered / I could have screamed aloud; I sought tears and prayers to smother down the crowd of hideous images and sounds with which my memory swarmed against me." Jekyll fools himself into a false sense of security, which is the root of his inevitable downfall. He claims, "I will tell you one thing: the moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr Hyde." He realises that this cannot be done and makes a further promise in the hope of making himself true to his word, "I will resolve my future conduct to redeem the past." Jekyll even writes out a will so that if anything goes wrong he can remain Hyde "without any pecuniary loss". This is the clearest indication that perhaps he intends to remain Hyde without any foresight into what the consequences of that will be. With hindsight, Jekyll deserves no more sympathy than anyone else in the novel. He is the architect of his own downfall, and it was his ignorance of the fact that his life was falling away from him that inevitably leads to his unavoidable demise. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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