Discuss the Ways in Which Stevenson Explores the Idea of 'Good' and 'Evil' in the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Why, in Your Opinion, Did the Book Become so Popular in Victorian England?

Topics: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Novella Pages: 4 (1309 words) Published: June 4, 2011
Discuss the ways in which Stevenson explores the idea of 'good' and 'evil' in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Why, in your opinion, did the book become so popular in Victorian England?

'...I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life'. In The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson delves into the theme of 'good and evil' comprehensively. As the novella unfolds from chapter to chapter, the theme of 'good and evil' simultaneously progresses and is noticeably present throughout this enigma. Hence, it is a pertinent question to ask, how does Stevenson explore the idea of 'good' and 'evil' in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? What ways are employed to make the portrayal of 'good' and 'evil' extensively shown throughout the novella?

The ways in which Stevenson uses to present the idea of 'good' and 'evil' are substantially varied. However, one of the apparent ways utilised is the presentation of the characters themselves alongside the intricate descriptions of these characters crucial to the novella. Primarily, the concept of good and evil is depicted through the main character Dr. Jekyll and the latter through his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. Physically, Stevenson describes both of these characters as a representation of good and evil respectively. Dr. Jekyll is illustrated as a 'large, well-made, smooth-faced man...' whereas Mr. Hyde is the stark contrast of his better self. He is constantly described as 'ape-like', having a 'displeasing smile' and giving 'an impression of deformity'. To further amplify this evil nature, Stevenson relates Mr. Hyde's physical traits to hell by describing him as 'hellish to see' and 'Satan's signature on a face'. Through the physical nature of these characters, Stevenson portrays the good and evil in a very overt sense. The theme of good and evil is graphically shown with such demeanours of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Through this, it clearly shows the two opposing halves of...
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