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What view of human nature does Stevenson present in the novel, The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

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Introduction

What view of human nature does Stevenson present in the novel, The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde psychologically explores the dual nature of the human personality and represents a conflict between good and evil. It suggests a co-existence in the human body and soul of goodness, morality, and idealism along with evil, depravity, and sadism. In the novel are four men of similar character and social standing, Mr. Utterson, Mr. Enfield, Dr. Lanyon, and Dr. Jekyll, who should all be quite capable of subduing their evil impulses. But Dr. Jekyll fails to do so, and the novel is the story of his failure and the problems and dilemmas he faces. In this piece of writing I aim to explore the views of human nature that Stevenson conveys to the reader through his writing. I am also going to look at how the strong Victorian values influenced Stevenson and his writing. Dr. Jekyll believes "All human beings... are commingled out of good and evil." However Stevenson's protagonist, Dr. Jekyll, manages to isolate and separate his evil side from his good side, creating in the process two very different people; Jekyll, who represents not pure good, but the whole of a person, and Hyde, who represents pure evil, and contains little, if any, of Jekyll in him. ...read more.

Middle

Only vigorous personalities are capable of either the heights of virtue or the depths of vice, and Dr. Jekyll is such a personality. In him, both the good and the evil tendencies of human nature are very strong. His descent into extreme evil is due to the fact that he has a very high standard of virtue. He is determined to keep the two sides of his nature completely apart. But in isolating his evil side, he dooms himself. Stevenson suggests that once one gives free rein to their evil tendencies, there is no going back. Although Dr. Jekyll believes that "The moment I choose, I can be rid of Mr. Hyde." However he later admits "I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse." So indeed, as soon as Dr. Jekyll creates Edward Hyde, he starts on a journey to utter moral downfall. He loses contact first with his good side and then with his friends. The more he plays at being Hyde the more he is cut off from their good influence. Finally becoming Hyde is no longer a matter of choice. Lanyon is an extreme example of what happens to one who is unwilling to accept the existence of evil as a primal, universal force. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stevenson also employs powerful imagery to describe the fog-shrouded streets of London, soon after the murder of Sir Danvers Carew. They are "like a district of some city in a nightmare." Touches like these throughout the novel add to its depth, richness, and complexity. Stevenson's style shows the kind of man he was. His writing is full of echoes from great writers and books. Like many writers of his day, the Bible was a major source of allusion and inspiration. For example, he refers to Cain's "heresy" in the first chapter of this book. In the last chapter, he makes a pointed reference to the "Babylonian finger on the wall" spelling out Jekyll's judgment. I think that his views come from his strict Calvinist upbringing. In conclusion, I think that Stevenson believes that within every person exists good (Jekyll) and evil (Hyde) but each individual person has the choice whether to be good or evil. This co-existence in the human body creates an inner conflict. I think that Stevenson may have based the very vivid and defined character, Dr Jekyll on himself because the novel is presented as a "case" which gives it an air of reality. Stevenson was also from a very strict religious background of which he eventually rebelled against. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Lucy Simmons 1 ...read more.

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