Stevenson's Use of the Concept of Duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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. Utterson, whom we are introduced to in the first chapter. We are told of his ?rugged countenance? and how he is ?lean, long, dusty and yet somehow loveable.? ?Dusty and dreary? are a contrast to ?loveable? and so we already pick out two sides in a personality. We are immediately aware of his high moral standards. ?He is austere with himself? therefore he disallows himself to indulge or enjoy himself, ?though he enjoyed the theatre, he had not crossed the door of one for twenty years.? Utterson seems to be the ideal Victorian man. However we know that in previous years he has allowed his darker interior side of him to show. When thinking about his past he is ?humbled to dust by the many ill things he has done.? From the first chapter we can also interpret the different sides to one family. Along with Utterson, we are introduced to Mr Richard Enfield, who is a distant relation to Utterson. Enfield is described as, ?a well-known man about town,? which suggests he is less than respectable. Utterson is attracted to the dark side of Enfield as he ?envied the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds.? This again underlines the hidden aspects of Utterson?s nature and the contrast between him and his kinsman Enfield. Another event where Stevenson uses duality is between one?s appearance and personality. Later on in the book Utterson goes to meet Hyde and is instead greeted by his maid. She is described as having an ?evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy.? However her manners are ?excellent.? This tells us that one?s exterior can be the total opposite to the interior, good or bad. The main duality in the book is of course focussed on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Although both share the same body. ?both? have complete opposite attitudes and thinking; ?man is not truly one but truly two.? Dr Jekyll is a well-admired man. He has a dignified reputation and is respected by his large group of friends, unlike Hyde who tends to ?hide? away in the day and avoid conversation. When the reader meets Jekyll he/she knows that he is intelligent and welcoming, whereas Hyde makes anyone who comes across him feel shaken and uncomfortable. As a doctor, it is Jekyll?s duty to help save lives. This is contrasted sharply with Hyde?s behaviour towards life- where murder has no barriers. His first victim is an innocent child, which already outlines his hellish behaviour. He ?trampled calmly over the child?s body,? showing he did not care that he hurt a child. The phrase ?trampled calmly? is an effective oxymoron. The word ?trampled? is an aggressive word and ?calmly? being a relaxed one makes the reader feel both confused and horrified. The appearance of these two men is also varied. Jekyll is an upright, friendly looking man. On the other hand Hyde is short, deformed and tries to hide away his face. His bent posture relates to that of an animal, in this case and ape, which again links to the controversial Darwinian idea of the ?beast within.? This is taken further in Hyde?s second murder of MP Carew. Here with ?ape-like fury? he tramples the victim under his foot. Again Hyde represents Darwin?s theory. Although both Jekyll and Hyde have total opposite personalities, Hyde begins to overshadow Jekyll. Jekyll tries to defend Hyde and cover up his misdeeds. Constantly changing into Hyde has had a negative effect on Jekyll himself. He has now reduced in stature and Utterson notices him looking more tired and ?deadly sick.? Here the audience can begin to see that Hyde is having an effect on Jekyll even when Jekyll is in ?control,? which continues to keep them interested to see what becomes of Jekyll as the two sides begin to show little difference. Stevenson does not only use duality to show the two sides of a person. For instance where Jekyll and Hyde live is contrasted. Both live in different parts of the same city. Jekyll lives in well-respected area of London where there are expensive shops and is home to other well-respected figures. The streets are clean and well lit. Hyde lives in Soho, with its ?muddy ways? and ?slatternly passengers,? which reflect Hyde?s personality. The adjectives used to describe the places are a combination of good and evil, Jekyll and Hyde. Duality is also used for their homes.? Jekyll?s house is situated on a popular street with his laboratory behind at the back of his garden. Hyde?s house is the other side of his laboratory. It is described as a very dull house which is ?discoloured? with a sinister looking door. Although both the houses lie on the same street and are connected- they could not be more different from one another. Stevenson cleverly brings out the theme of duality between the characters of Dr Jekyll and 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.

Stevenson's Use of the Concept of Duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 9 of 10 on the basis of 3197 Review.