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In What Ways Does Robert Louis Stevenson Explore The Concept Of Duality In 'Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde?

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Introduction

In What Ways Does Robert Louis Stevenson Explore The Concept Of Duality In 'Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde? The concept of duality is explored in many interesting ways in 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson. Duality is the idea of 'doubleness', of something having two parts rather than one, the notion of opposites. The reader sees duality in the characters, the setting of the story, the scientific theories that were affecting society and many aspects of the author's life. The dualities in the text also reflect the doubleness of Victorian society - a time of hypocrisy and double standards. The first concept of duality that becomes apparent is the title of the book: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The fact that the title consists of two people's names signifies that the book may be about two concepts. Adding to that, Mr Hyde's name suggests that something is being hidden, whereas Dr Jekyll's name conjures up the idea of something being killed. This is interesting because in the story Mr Hyde has been hidden in Dr Jekyll for so many years, and when Hyde is released the good side that Jekyll has practised all his life is gradually killed as Hyde takes over Jekyll's body. ...read more.

Middle

Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson was trying to tell readers that there is a balance in man's duality, and if that balance is altered, the consequences would be dire. Although they are essentially the same person, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde have many different characteristics and qualities to each other. Dr Jekyll is an upper class, respectable and admired doctor with many friends whom he cherishes. He is described by the narrator as being an aesthetically pleasing, loving and kind man when he says "A large, well-made smooth-faced man of about fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness - you could see by his looks that he cherished for Mr Utterson a sincere and warm affection." . Dr Jekyll himself says he is "Endowed with excellent parts" and had "every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished future." thus showing that he may be a little smug. However he is obviously not a completely arrogant man, as he was able to accept that he made a huge mistake when he says "Oh, God. This I did not intend. I saw a light but did not know where it was headed. I have trespassed on your domain. I've gone further than man should go. ...read more.

Conclusion

Other very important ways that he portrays and explores duality are the relationship between Mr Utterson and Mr Enfield, the city in which it is based and the society in which the story is based. He uses the theories of Dr Charles Darwin and Dr Sigmund Freud to help inform his novella and make it horrifying and shocking to the current society. 'Man is not truly one, but truly two.' is the most important line in the entire story concerning the concept of duality and the divisions in Victorian society. This is the line that sums up the entire character of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Personally, I think that the characters of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were the most effective way of rendering the concept of duality. This is because readers from the 19th century could identify with the doctor as a fellow Victorian, and then he did the unthinkable and split his own personality, which was a shock for any Victorian. I found that every way Robert Louis Stevenson portrays duality is effective, as long as you understand the context of the story. The better your understanding of the scientific and social background of the story, the more you can comprehend and identify the various ways in which duality is represented. ...read more.

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