Examine Robert Louis Stevenson’s Use of Duality in ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’
This novella is on the surface a gripping thriller; but if you delve deeper into the metaphorical and allegorical meanings then you will find an entirely different story, unlike most other stories from that period.
The novella follows the internal struggles of a man called Mr Utterson who sees his old friend Henry Jekyll suddenly change his habits, his friends, his life. Mr Utterson seems to vainly try and uncover the connection between the reclusive Dr Jekyll and the strange, malformed, evil Mr Hyde. The final connection is revealed when their mutual friend Dr Lanyon witnesses some awful change in Dr Jekyll which causes him such horror that he dies weeks later.
The entire story is ultimately concerned with duality and contrast, due to the fact that at that period there was a growing interest in Psychology, and a fascination with science which showed a fear that, uncontrolled, science could lead to unimaginable horrors.
Throughout the novella there are many contrasts and parallels such as the friendship between two seemingly opposites, Mr Utterson and Mr Enfield, and the obvious contrasts of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Many other contrasts in the story, such as the derelict building with the doorway and the rest of the clean street, can also be connected in a metaphorical way to the duality of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The literal duality of the story is when Dr Jekyll’s thirst for knowledge and scientifical advancement leads him to create a chemical which will enable him to suppress his consciousness and do whatever desires he wanted, but was not allowed to do by the contemporary society. The result of this change is the seemingly infamous Mr Hyde who is described as:
‘pale and dwarfish; he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself… with a sort of murderous mixture of...
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