Critical Response“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson Mode: Reading
Text: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Task: How does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the duality of human nature in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?
“The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” is a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. It concerns the theme of duality in human nature. Duality is an interesting theme because it was a new idea around the time the story was written and it makes you think about the two very different sides of human nature, good and evil.
The novella was written in 1886, during the Victorian era. At that time, concepts such as duality were only just beginning to be studied. Generally, Victorians associated everything with social class. They believed that if you were rich, you were good and meant a lot. If you were poor, you were a criminal and weren’t really important. Appearance was also used to judge people: “He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never met a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why.” This suggests that the reason Mr Enfield dislikes Hyde is because of his appearance, which, along with disliking people due to class, was quite common in the Victorian era, but duality brings in a completely different idea. It brings in the idea that people are neither good or bad, but that everyone is both, regardless of social class or appearance. The reason that other characters may take a disliking to Hyde when they see him is that from how he appears, they recognise that there is something evil in him.
Stevenson doesn’t make it clear until near the end of the novella that Jekyll and Hyde are the same character. This helps the reader to understand duality because we think of Jekyll and Hyde as two separate people and focus on their differences. We see them as having two completely different personalities, one...