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How does Stevenson use the concept of duality to interest his audience?

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Introduction

How does Stevenson use the concept of duality to interest his audience? 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written during the 19th century by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was written during a time where Victorian society had a lot of strong moral values. These values were very strict and controlled every aspect of the Victorian lifestyle. Aggression and fighting was looked down on and arguments were much preferred to be settled verbally. Hostile behaviour could even be seen as a sin and could transform the image of a person. The upper class society had a high status and stuck to these moral values in fear of losing their dignity. They didn't seen to cause any sins and looked down on and accused lower classed individuals. However during this period there was much hypocrisy around. Although there was a polite, well groomed exterior there seem to be a hidden interior which was evil and sin. Stevenson explores this issue in Jekyll and Hyde, and, taken from Darwin's ideas, gives us a message of the 'beast within us all.' Stevenson uses various techniques in order to keep the reader interested-but the concept and the contrast of duality is the main feature, which not only keep the reader interested but also keeps him/her thinking. ...read more.

Middle

Later on in the book Utterson goes to meet Hyde and is instead greeted by his maid. She is described as having an 'evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy.' However her manners are 'excellent.' This tells us that one's exterior can be the total opposite to the interior, good or bad. The main duality in the book is of course focussed on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Although both share the same body. 'both' have complete opposite attitudes and thinking; 'man is not truly one but truly two.' Dr Jekyll is a well-admired man. He has a dignified reputation and is respected by his large group of friends, unlike Hyde who tends to 'hide' away in the day and avoid conversation. When the reader meets Jekyll he/she knows that he is intelligent and welcoming, whereas Hyde makes anyone who comes across him feel shaken and uncomfortable. As a doctor, it is Jekyll's duty to help save lives. This is contrasted sharply with Hyde's behaviour towards life- where murder has no barriers. His first victim is an innocent child, which already outlines his hellish behaviour. He 'trampled calmly over the child's body,' showing he did not care that he hurt a child. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hyde's house is the other side of his laboratory. It is described as a very dull house which is 'discoloured' with a sinister looking door. Although both the houses lie on the same street and are connected- they could not be more different from one another. Stevenson cleverly brings out the theme of duality between the characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Utterson. Both are well-respected men who try to control the 'inner beast.' However at all becomes too much for Jekyll who makes a potion that allows him to do good as himself and evil as Hyde. The reader may have mixed views about Jekyll, and the writer may have intended that. We may have sympathy for him because he was unable to control Hyde's behaviour as he came more and more obsessed with sticking to the high moral values expected. On the other hand we may feel that he got what he deserved for taking such a dangerous and unpredictable potion in the first place. Today people are not so wrapped up in making themselves have a particular image as nowadays we are accepted for who we are. Anyhow, one message Stevenson clearly wants to get across is that good and evil exist together in man, which is agreeable today. English Coursework Aaisha Malik ...read more.

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