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In what ways does Stevenson present the duality of human nature in chapters 1, 4 & 9 of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and how does this duality reflect the concerns of the time?

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Introduction

In what ways does Stevenson present the duality of human nature in chapters 1, 4 & 9 of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and how does this duality reflect the concerns of the time? Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, published in 1886, regards many of the issues within Victorian culture and it presents the author's own disgust towards the traditions and affairs concerning Victorian society and the people living in it at the time. Stevenson's book incited the idea that everyone was capable of committing moral and immoral actions, it had nothing to do with your appearance, and his 'one shilling shocker' did what he said it would, it shocked and appalled the Victorian public. Science was rapidly becoming a more frequently occurring part of people's lives and it was posing a fast rising threat to religion and its practises, whilst at the same time theories such as Charles Darwin's theory of evolution were severely undermining and attacking the influence that the Christian church could have in people's lives. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was another science based book, and this is similar to Stevenson's book in a way that a Dr [Frankenstein] is using his mind and science for the wrong reasons. People had begun to question the notion that God created the world, and this was exacerbated by Frankenstein's experiments. ...read more.

Middle

Despite this, Dr Jekyll is first construed as a, "large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty". This gives the reader the impression that he is just an indifferent member of the upper class, hence suggesting that he is the exact opposite to Mr Hyde. Moreover, the fact that Jekyll is referred to as, "Dr" and Hyde is referred to as "Mr" suggests that Mr Hyde, a lower class person is polluting Dr Jekyll, an upper class person, fitting in with the common fear that the lower class would pollute and corrupt the idealistic upper class, therefore suggesting the duality of the East and West ends. The duality between Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the time of the book could epitomize the concerns of Victorian society and the theories of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin. The theory enunciated that all human beings began as apes, and that we have developed throughout time to suit the environment, or to adapt, fitting the idea of survival of the fittest. The harsh fact that Mr Hyde has not yet been likened to man suggests he is devolved, and Stevenson is able to convey this point by stating that he "clubbed him to the earth" (in relation to the murder of Sir Charles Danvers). From this statement we are able to infer that Mr Hyde is now being likened to a caveman brandishing a club, a supposed early stage in the theory of evolution. ...read more.

Conclusion

What is more, we are enlightened that Mr Hyde has a: "picture hung on the walls, a gift from Henry Jekyll, who was much of a connoisseur". This portrayal of the wall hanging and of the entire flat seems to give us more of a concept with regards to the type of accommodation that Dr Jekyll would live in, because of his status as a high class man. However, it is apparent Mr Hyde is living in the flat, due to the, "dingy windowless structure" and, "distasteful sense of strangeness" that Stevenson goes on to describe. Duality of the flat is found in the sense that in one judgement, the flat is elaborately and intricately decorated, but in another, it is dingy and distasteful. Dr Lanyon is a scientist, much like Dr Jekyll; however, although the two men share the same profession, they do not share the same ideas or moral values. Lanyon may be a scientist, yet he is still a very strong and motivated religious believer, and he tries to distance himself from Jekyll because of what seems to be his [Jekyll] lack of morals with regards to human life, "my colleague [Dr Jekyll] was insane". Through Lanyon and Jekyll, Stevenson is able to convey the antithesis of science conflicting with religion, and how just as before, Lanyon and Jekyll should live together as friends and in peace, as potentially science and religion can. ...read more.

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