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Robert Louis Stevenson's presentation of good and evil in "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"

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Introduction

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE "COMMENT ON ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON'S PRESENTATION OF GOOD AND EVIL" Good and evil has always existed. From the very first moment life began, good has always fought against evil. Throughout history, people have acted in a manner of evil, only to be conquered by people on the side of good. Today, good and evil are represented in various forms. Socially, people act against others in a good way, or an evil way, depending on their points of view. However, the idea of good and evil was personified by a Victorian writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, in a book titled 'The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. Victorian society had very straight, very strict rules. In Victorian society, everybody knew and believed that God existed. The public believed it represented the pinnacle of moral standards. Strict codes of politeness and the resolution of matter in an amicable way was the 'gentlemanly' thing to do. However, this was only the surface. The underbelly of society showed the hidden life. A life scarred with hypocrisy and scandal, where the aim was not to be against it, but to make sure you were not caught doing it. This was true Victorian England. We can see this hypocrisy and hidden life in the novel, represented by the characters we meet. ...read more.

Middle

An example of his use of language is his personification of the "pale moon, lying on her back as though the wind had tilted her". In the novel, Stevenson describes only two incidents that reflect Hyde's evil. The first is the incident with the girl, where he "trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground". As odd as it seems, the second incident was possibly even more ambiguous. This was the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. The build up of the murder of Sir Danvers Carew begins off quite calm. We are told of the witness to the case, and her moods, feelings and that she was at the window because "never had she felt more at peace with all men". She then notices "an aged and beautiful gentleman [Carew] with white hair drawing near along the lane". Stevenson uses language to make the reader fall under a sense of false security, and also feel relaxed and calm. This picturesque description is then abruptly shattered by Hyde. Hyde was holding "in his hand a heavy cane, with which he was trifling". This could possibly mean that he is agitated, and therefore could fore-shadow that he wants to use this cane in some way, and is getting himself ready for it. Then, "all of a sudden he [Hyde] broke out in a great flame of anger...Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds, and clubbed him [Carew] to the ground". ...read more.

Conclusion

Stevenson's use of symbols links with the contrived aspects of his novel. He uses these 'coincidences' to help the story along. We can see these contrived aspects in 'The Carew Murder Case'. We are not told it is eleven o'clock, a time that would have been thought of as quite late in Victorian society. However, this is when Carew is introduced. It is not explained why Carew was out at that time of night. Was he strolling along the lane because he was going somewhere, or was he summoned to this place as a meeting point with Hyde? Another unexplained incident is the letter he was carrying for Utterson. The reader is not told what the content of the letter was, or why it made Utterson shoot "out a solemn lip". The final unexplainably aspect is Utterson's head clerk, Mr Guest. During a bottle of wine, a conversation about a letter given to Jekyll from Hyde is begun. The letter is shown to Guest, who then asks for Utterson's dinner invitation from Jekyll. Is it coincidental that guest happens to be a handwriting expert? Is it just by chance that he is introduced into the plot at a time when a written letter is given to the man we see the story unfold from? Or has Stevenson deliberately included this character? It is unknown to the reader, but whatever the reason, its aim is to move the story along much quicker. Victorian society was heavily for the idea of religion. ...read more.

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