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In the nineteenth century the double was an idea that interested and fascinated many writers since it allowed them to explore that which the ordinary daylight world would prefer to forget. Examine and discuss Stevenson's use of the double

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Introduction

In the nineteenth century the double was an idea that interested and fascinated many writers since it allowed them to explore that which the ordinary daylight world would prefer to forget. Examine and discuss Stevenson's use of the double in his portrayal of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Many myths, legends and fairy tales include transformations. A recent example is the relatively new children's film, "Shrek" where a princess gets turned into a monster by a witch; but when she breaks the spell by falling in love, she transforms from the monster to the beautiful princess she once was. In the story of "The strange case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" there is also a transformation, but it is a respectable good doctor to a deeply evil and hated man. Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. He wrote the novel "The strange case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" during his time in Bournemouth in 1885, the novel was later published in 1886. The novel appears to be set in Old Victorian London, yet he clearly had Edinburgh in mind as well with its twin identities (like Jekyll): prosperous and respectable New Town, and the Old Town of poverty and desperation. Jekyll and Hyde is a sad tale of how a well-respected Victorian doctor creates a potion which enables him to turn into an evil creature, Hyde, to explore mans double nature of good and evil. ...read more.

Middle

Hyde was protected by Jekyll as he enjoyed his exploits because no one could ever find out what Jekyll was up to. Stevenson has also been very clever to make his two characters represent both Darwinian Theory and biblical myth. Hyde represents Darwinian Theory, and in the time the novel was written, Victorians believed in the Adam and Eve Theory, which made the story quite disturbing to the reader, yet at the same time exciting, as there weren't many novels around at the time. Stevenson's first chapter is where all the evil starts taking place, a young girl was "...trampled..." to death in the middle of the night by Mr. Hyde. Another act of atrocity and evilness is when he beat Sir Danvers Carew to death with a cane in chapter four. Hyde is violent and cruel man that Dr. Jekyll gradually loses control over. I think that Dr. Jekyll takes some responsibility for the atrocities because he was the one who ultimately gave Hyde life, however most of the blame goes to Hyde. Jekyll explains in the final chapter how Hyde doesn't simply have his own body but also his own independent mind, I think this happens because Hyde just simply manages to grow stronger than Jekyll and gradually begins to emotionally defeat Jekyll, until once in the body and mind of Hyde, the good side of his soul has no power. ...read more.

Conclusion

The story comments on the dual nature of man and of society in general. It also asks the reader that if they knew they could get away with something really bad and not get found out, would they do it? The story also raises the issue of Victorian religious beliefs of how man was created, where they all created from Adam and Eve, or did they all evolve from apes? This links to Darwin's Theories. This was a major moral issue at the time. The story teaches us that no matter who we are we have a double nature of good and evil and if you don't embrace and control your evil side it will take over, and you'd be a hypocrite if you didn't. The craving or desire to be bad never goes away, it's just like being an alcoholic or drug addict, you just have to learn to say "no". The story is ironic because although the whole experiment conducted by Jekyll is a success, in the end he is killed by his invention- the potion. In the end Jekyll doesn't commit suicide, but simply is only able to obtain the powder for the potion in its pure form, instead of the impure original powder which he originally used for the transformation. Edward Hyde is the one to commit suicide in fear of the gallows and now unable to take refuge in the body of Dr. Jekyll's body. The ultimate message from Stevenson's novel is that if one gives evil an inch, it will take a mile. Lindsay Barr 11W ...read more.

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