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How does Stevenson Present Good and Evil in "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson Present Good and Evil in "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"? Throughout the story of "The Strange Case Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, presents his idea of the duality of man- where we all have a dark, wicked side within us, where evil is held in waiting to surface, but we hide it away, we pretend it does not exist, and we keep it tame. He presents this idea by using two protagonists, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, who are actually the same person. One of these characters symbolizes the normal side of a person represented by the respectable Dr Jekyll, who is a typical upper class Victorian, and the other, Mr Hyde, a deformed man, signifies the purest of evil. During the course of this essay I will comment on Stevenson's presentation of good and evil, and how the two work together to create an outstanding story. The book "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" was published in 1886, in Victorian England. The horror story originated from a dream that Stevenson's had about a split personality and the central suggestion that evil is potentially far stronger than good. When he awoke he immediately set about putting his thoughts into words and finished the first copy in just three days but was forced to burn it because of the disapproval from his wife. He wrote another version, again in just three days. The second copy was published and was an overnight success. The storyline is about a doctor, who stumbles upon a potion, which he finds can change him into an entirely different person physically. Mr Hyde opens the window for evil deeds, through which Dr Jekyll could commit crimes without ruining his good name. At fist Dr Jekyll can control his transformations, by taking the drugs, and then retaking it to become himself again, however later in the story, Jekyll becomes so obsessed with his "other self" that he begins to lose control of the transformation. ...read more.

Middle

Another factor to support this point is that drug use and abuse was increasing during Stevenson's time, and an example of this in the story is the use of opium. This highly addictive drug was frequently prescribed, even to children to help them sleep. This displays Jekyll's growing addiction to his potion in this story, which would turn him into Mr Hyde. The drug use also could show that Stevenson was trying to warn the Victorian society of the drug problem rising in their society. This is also why the story relates to today as thee are still drug problems in today's society. There is the idea that science is evil in "The Strange Case Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" is debateable as we see that Dr Jekyll does manage to conjure up a potion which creates pure evil, but he also says that if, "I risked the experiment while under the empire of generous or pious aspirations, all must have been otherwise, and from these agonies of death and birth I had come forth an angel instead of a fiend." This tells us that if he used the potion when he was in a good or religious mood, then Mr Hyde would be more like an angel rather than a satanic being. This shows that the potion could have been used for good so science can be good or evil depending on how and when you use it. Another example of this is with drugs mentioned earlier. The current relevance is the fact that people still get addicted to drugs, and go far out of their way, and character, to get these drugs once they have become addicted. Addictions, like Dr Jekyll's potion, can easily become out of control and then take over your body. This quite clearly shows that drugs are bad however drugs are being used to heal and control major diseases that we see today. ...read more.

Conclusion

The story can act as a warning to other societies not to become so oppressive, as Victorian society was, so that something similar to Mr Hyde does not happen. Stevenson presents good and evil in the story through Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. For this story evil is described as potentially more powerful than good, and controls Dr Jekyll who is portrayed as the good character. Stevenson immediately describes Dr Jekyll as a doctor, which the reader would associate to a trustworthy and moral person who would be well respected. Dr Jekyll would have taken an oath to help and save lives. Mr Hyde, however, did the opposite. He took lives instead of protecting them. Evil slowly triumphed, leaving Henry Jekyll described by Dr Lanyon as "...like a man restored from death." What Stevenson is saying about good and evil Good and evil is in all of us (some would say that Stevenson shows belief in the Christian doctrine of the original sin) so everyone has the potential to do bad things) so everybody has potential to do bad things. Good and evil are linked to religion/ spirituality Good and evil cannot exist without another person ying/yang Pure evil cannot associate with others - it cannot have friends No one is purely evil (Hyde is pure evil and the product of a scientific experiment - Jekyll always has some good in him, even where his evil/Hyde side gets stronger and stronger Once you give in to your instinctive desires, you can never contain them - they will get stronger and stronger People make choices about their behaviour These choices may be influenced by personality These choices are/are not influenced by upbringing (not everyone in the class agreed on the question of upbringing - what's the evidence?) People react to the same events in different ways - Hyde takes pleasure in violent action, Jekyll is "aghast". What about the other character Beauty = goodness, ugliness= evil but, does Stevenson present good and evil in this way for he purpose of his novella/ or because he believed it. ...read more.

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