• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the duality of human nature in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Extracts from this document...


How does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the duality of human nature in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Robert Louis Stevenson incorporated the ideology of the duality of human nature into his Victorian thriller novella: 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'. This does not emerge fully until the last chapter. The text not only de-familiarizes the duality of human nature as its central theme but forces us to wonder the properties of this duality and to consider each of the novella's chapters as we weigh up the various theories. Jekyll asserts that "man is not truly one, but truly two," implying that everyone has two parts to their personality, 'Good' and 'Bad' instead of just yourself and he imagines the human soul as the battleground for an "angel" and a "fiend," both opposing forces each struggling for mastery. The novella tackles many different theories that circulated at the time. When the novella was published, there was uproar that it suggested we have two parts to our personalities. This theory went against many influential Victorian religious beliefs. Robert Louis Stevenson's believed that people had a dual personality and this is echoed in the novella. The inspiration for the novella could have come from many different people and events, most notably: a dream that Stevenson had repeatedly as a child relevant event about Deacon Brody who was a cabinet maker by day and murderer by night. Also during his time in the Samoan Island a man named Dr Hyde greatly insulted his friends, from that could have and most probably did give birth to the Jekyll and Hyde characters. Robert Louis Stevenson, the author, was born in 1850 in Edinburgh, and you can see the divisions between scientific and religious views reflected in the story from his childhood. His mother, being very religious, had him baptised whereas his father did not approve of his writing and thought he should have a more scientific past-time. ...read more.


Throughout the novella the language used to describe the main characters, especially Jekyll and Hyde are consistent with what they're meant to symbolise. For example, Hyde, is referred as being, "ape-like", a simile and "hideous", an adjective both echo the idea that Hyde is Jekyll's 'animal like', and 'primitive' side, by comparing Hyde to an ape this also emphasizes the Victorian idea of duality of human nature where the 'evil' part has the more disgusting and unattractive traits, whereas the 'good' part of you has the more respectable and 'like-able' features. According to the remarks made by observers, Hyde appears 'repulsively ugly' and 'deformed', 'small', 'shrunken', and 'hairy': these adjectives symbolize his moral hideousness and warped ethics. The connection between such ugliness and Hyde's wickedness might have been seen as more than symbolic. Many people believed in the science of physiognomy, which was, that someone could identify a criminal by physical appearance. His hairiness may indicate that he is not so much an evil side of Jekyll as the embodiment of Jekyll's instincts, the animalistic core beneath Jekyll's polished exterior, another point is where Stevenson gives the door Hyde enters, human qualities such as calling it, "sinister", which is an example of personification. The door is also mentioned later on in the novella where it's referred to, "two door's from one corner", seemingly an oxymoron where the door can be interpreted as two physical entrances to the Jekyll residence which Hyde uses, but also the mental entrance to Jekyll's 'good' side and Hyde's 'bad' side placed next to each other to symbolize the two halves of Jekyll's human nature. The simple name "Hyde" which consists of a single syllable is a good way to name the character, and they're many ways where this is evident, one of those is: "Jekyll", consists of two syllables so "Hyde", implying that Hyde, is hidden or 'hides' within Jekyll however it could also symbolize half of what Jekyll is, Jekyll's 'bad' side. ...read more.


Also they mention, 'door' which becomes more important as the story goes on proving to be of use to Hyde and Jekyll as a physical and theological escape to each other's acts. It is at this point that due to both of the men's disapproval of gossiping, that they stop the conversation, and continue their walk. The novella consists of a long anecdote started at the beginning and ends with a summary of Dr Jekyll's point of view. Jekyll mainly explains their story and that he will transform into Hyde again, soon and will not be able to stop it. The idea of Jekyll and Hyde is for the reader to think about the two different sides to human nature, and how things can 'possibly' go wrong when you lose all control over the 'evil' side of your personality, as inevitably happens in the novella. I think that Stevenson, who was plagued throughout his life by illness, wrote this story to share his own experiences, and views in a controversial religious and scientific situation at the time of publication. Throughout Stevenson's life he battled with respiratory problems, consistently moving from city to city, and even to different countries most notably the Samoan islands and I believe that this is just one of the 'demons' in his life, or part of his own 'evil' human nature that led him to write this story. No one philosopher can be linked directly to the story since the text grapples at parts of Locke's and Hobbes' theories. A possible moral of this interesting story is that which many Christians recite daily, (yet another religious link to the story): "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil", and that 'one' needs to be in control of their darker side of human nature, and to stop this evil from growing larger as happens in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or perhaps, the moral is that we cannot control evil once unleashed. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Robert Louis Stevenson essays

  1. How does Stevenson create the atmosphere of suspense, horror and mystery in the first ...

    Secondly, by the sensation that is left on Utterson after the encounter: 'he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness', 'unknown disgust, loathing and fear.' Even after an abrupt conversation with Hyde, he seems to leave a chilling impression on Utterson

  2. How does Robert Louis Stevenson Create Tension in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll ...

    This was a horrific murder. But the clue lies in the weapon used to kill him. It was a stick that Mr. Utterson had bought Dr. Jekyll as a present. This is another clue that gets you thinking. Did he steal the stick? Or is there some other explanation?

  1. How does Stevenson create duality between London and the events and characters in 'Jekyll ...

    The fight between good and evil that Utterson is trying to seek Mr Hyde but the society's evil doubtless to win at the end, against good and evil. On the same day of the killing Mr Utterson makes his way to Dr Jekyll's house.

  2. How does R.L. Stevenson create fear and suspense in the novel " The Strange ...

    This simile signifies the complacence of Dr. Jekyll who doesn't expect his actions to backfire. However, instead of disappearing into thin air, Hyde wipes out the very existence of Dr. Jekyll. It is thus proved that the blemishes of our faults never wipe away and boomerang into our lives at some point or the other.

  1. GCSE Jekyll and Hyde Essay

    He sometimes mentions Hyde as a separate person, sometimes as himself, 'He, I say - I cannot say I', 'I arranged my clothes as best I could...' He sometimes mentions Henry Jekyll as a separate person, sometimes as himself, 'I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end', '...

  2. Explain how Stevenson uses setting in 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. ...

    Yet when we come to Jekyll's side of the house it is the exact opposite. It is described as "wearing a great air of wealth and comfort." This is personification and Stevenson uses it to make it easier for us to paint a mental picture of scenes in the book.

  1. What view of human nature does Stevenson present in the Novel The Strange Case ...

    The basic human emotions that drive people are love and hate, and within these two, come other emotions like sympathy, forgiveness and revenge. Minor characters like the police show self interest ?and the next moment his eyes lighted up with professional ambition?.

  2. How does Stevenson Make Mr Utterson an Interesting and Significant Character in "Jekyll and ...

    To make the details of Jekyll's work believable, Stevenson presents the otherwise unbelievable details of Jekyll's experiments through the logical mind of Mr Utterson. By allowing the reader to experience the events through reasoned and rational characters, the effect of the final conclusion and the discovery of Jekyll's horrific work is even more powerful, because contrast is so great.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work