Stevenson's Use of the Concept of Duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written during the 19th century by Robert
Louis Stevenson. It was written during a time where Victorian society
had a lot of strong moral values. These values were very strict and
controlled every aspect of the Victorian lifestyle. Aggression and
fighting was looked down on and arguments were much preferred to be
settled verbally. Hostile behaviour could even be seen as a sin and
could transform the image of a person. The upper class society had a
high status and stuck to these moral values in fear of losing their
dignity. They didn't seen to cause any sins and looked down on and
accused lower classed individuals. However during this period there
was much hypocrisy around. Although there was a polite, well groomed
exterior there seem to be a hidden interior which was evil and sin.
Stevenson explores this issue in Jekyll and Hyde, and, taken from
Darwin's ideas, gives us a message of the 'beast within us all.'
Stevenson uses various techniques in order to keep the reader
interested-but the concept and the contrast of duality is the main
feature, which not only keep the reader interested but also keeps
him/her thinking. He uses this double-sided personality not only in
humans but also in places and objects also such as towns and houses.
Although Charles Darwin's ideas of a man descended from apes were
highly controversial at the time, Stevenson takes this idea further in
the book and we discover that people tended to cover up their
animalistic nature because of the restricted Victorian society.
This type of duality is seen clearly in Mr. U...
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...d Mr Utterson. Both are well-respected men
who try to control the 'inner beast.' However at all becomes too much
for Jekyll who makes a potion that allows him to do good as himself
and evil as Hyde. The reader may have mixed views about Jekyll, and
the writer may have intended that. We may have sympathy for him
because he was unable to control Hyde's behaviour as he came more and
more obsessed with sticking to the high moral values expected. On the
other hand we may feel that he got what he deserved for taking such a
dangerous and unpredictable potion in the first place. Today people
are not so wrapped up in making themselves have a particular image as
nowadays we are accepted for who we are. Anyhow, one message Stevenson
clearly wants to get across is that good and evil exist together in
man, which is agreeable today.