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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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“The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is written by the author Robert Louis Stevenson and was first published in 1866. The book is known for its vivid portrayal of a spilt personality, in the sense of having a good and evil side, which are quite distinct from each other. The theme of duality is always present throughout the novella and is highlighted either through characters or places. Also the theme of gothic writing is a big thing in the era, which is reflected through the textual content of the book. We see duality at the beginning of the text where characters Enfield and Utterson are speaking.

To a stranger’s eyes, these two gentlemen seem to be complete opposites, “they said nothing, looked singularly dull, and would hail with the obvious relief the appearance of a friend”. We do not know why Stevenson has made these two character friends, maybe to give the novella a twist of duality; possibly foreshadowing upcoming events or the unlikely relationships within the novella such a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, “Jekyll: extremely handsome… Hyde: Animalistic”. Dr. Henry Jekyll is a well-respected doctor although very experimental.

He has a good friend Gabriel Utterson. As Dr. Jekyll behaviour changes his good friend is certain it is Mr. Hyde influence that has changed Jekyll, “He did not rise to meet his visitor, but held out a cold hand and bale him welcome in a changed voice”. Mr. Edward Hyde is a small, hunched man with an unfriendly manner. Mr. Hyde is Dr. Jekyll’s alter ego in life form. He is awaken when Jekyll drinks the potion, and turns into a destructive animal-like creature. We also learn he is very aggressive, “he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with the foot”. The theme of duality is present when Mr. Hyde changes into Dr. Jekyll in front of Dr. Lanyon. Dr. Lanyon is an old friend of Mr. Utterson and Dr. Jekyll.

He is a very judgemental character who says what he thinks. He also is very narrow minded and is concerned with his public image. Unlike Dr. Jekyll he is not experimental but is scientific. He cocoons himself from reality and unfortunately is the victim of Hyde’s revenge on him. He is only seen twice, but his “narrative” read by Utterson reveals Jekyll’s secret. He also can’t face the duality, he believes in his own character. Mr. Gabriel John Utterson is the main narrator of the text. His name alone describes the type of person he is, utter (talks alot) and Gabriel (angle-god like).

He is non judgemental and a man of integrity. He is full of contradictions and suppresses his desire along with a past that is not completely blameless. We see he has a strange choice in friends, Enfield and Jekyll. Several characters all demonstrate hypocrisy; Lanyon and Utterson do this through their reactions to Hyde, their dislike and disgust of him. The unpalatable truth becomes unrecognizable to the characters as the revulsion which all human beings have blocks their view of accepting the truth. Utterson learns Hyde is the main beneficiary on Dr Jekyll will. Mr.

Hyde disappears after he is seen murdering Sir Danvers Carew. At the end Utterson finds out Mr. Hyde is Dr. Jekyll’s evil alter ego. All the character mock evil but they are all capable of condemning evil themselves. The success of the book is mostly down to its powerful and imaginative settings. They are highly significant to the acknowledgement of many themes. They allow the reader to understand themes such as duality in immense detail and depth. Day and night are symbolically related to the theme duality; day being symbolic to Dr Jekyll’s well made and respectable appearance.

Day is light and innocent, similar to Dr. Jekyll. Whereas night is symbolic to Mr. Hyde’s deformed and shocking appearance. Hidden away from society, being dark and mysterious. Another important setting Stevenson has included into his text is the full moon in the maid’s description of the murder; this expresses the gothic theme of the novel. The writer uses the Victorian times as a gate way to make the settings more believable, especially as the Victorian citizens believed in supernatural things i. e. the full moon having effect on creatures.

We see the settings become more connected to the story such as in Dr Jekyll’s home. The theme duality is present in Jekyll’s home, which helps the reader, to see the diversity between Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde life style. Also Stevenson uses the weather to foreshadow events to come later on in the chapter, “a fog rolled over the city… the early part of the night was cloudless … lit by the full moon”. There is only one narrator at the start, Gabriel Utterson. Later on in the book there are several other characters, giving us a multiple perspective of the plot.

The several other narrators are Lanyon, Utterson, Enfield and Jekyll. They all express their point of view about the sequence of events in the story; factual narratives. Stevenson does this to allow the reader to see the relationships between the characters and to allow the reader to develop their understanding of the story. The narrative does not tell the story, it is revealed to the reader, consistently throughout. The good in the story mostly is about Jekyll, as he is the good one out of him and Mr. Hyde. He is a respected physician although experimental.

This is one reason the potion was successful in separating his good and evil side. Jekyll is also wealthy, being another reason he is the good one as people have high thoughts of him ‘Dr’. We see he is a hypocrite as he mocks evil, but in fact he is the evil. Jekyll is also described as wearing a mask which makes him appear mysterious. Being a very powerful character it is no surprise his ego forces him to be very controlling, especially of his evil side, although he cannot control it. The evil in the book is mostly about Mr. Hyde, he is described with animalistic imagery; snake, monkey rat.

He chooses to go out at night as the darkness allows him to get away with stuff, without being caught. Hyde also lacks verbosity along with several social graces. His deformity is a common theme in the book which creates more of gothic image of him. This is why people fear him. He also appears to change as he gains in power. As he gains power the normal human restriction are ignored, setting him free of rules, this is why his animalistic personality becomes more vivid in the course of gaining power; an animal being set lose in the wild.

In the description of Jekyll’s home the writer mentions a front and rear door. The front door is light and welcoming, a public entrance with nothing to hide. Whereas the rear door exists into a shadowy courtyard away from the public view, sinister, discoloured, leading to the dilapidated rear rooms. The doors symbolize secrets and lies, hence the contrast between the entrances are symbolic of the secret that Jekyll has. This illustrates the duality of the house, but also the divided self may form more than just two equal parts, House in separate identities’ the good and evil of human nature”.

Through the novel of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” we see Robert Stevenson has shown many people their true lives, full of regrets and evil. He has developed the theme of duality through settings, characters and objects. He consistently presented duality in each possible way significantly through Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Good and evil has been separated in this novel which comes to the main reason Stevenson created this story, to explore the duality of human nature in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

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