Duality is the central theme that binds together all the intricately plotted themes within the both the novel and the film
The duality of man is a key theme in the novel, “The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde”. The separation of Jekyll into two beings, Jekyll and Hyde, is an allegory for humankind's conflicting forces of good and evil. These characters bring to life the inner struggle between the two powers of the soul. Jekyll, the protagonist, portrays the good side of human nature in this narrative. From the start of the story, Jekyll is aware of this dual nature. Knowing this, he concocts a potion that will separate the two. These separate entities come in the form of Jekyll and Hyde, two equipotent, coexistent, and eternally opposed components that make up a “normal” individual. Here, good and evil are not related but are two independent entities, individuals even, different in mental and physical attributes and constantly at war with each other. This is evident when Jekyll asserts that “man is not truly one, but truly two,” and he imagines the human soul as the battleground for an “angel” and a “fiend,” each struggling for mastery.
This theme of duality, and how Robert Louis Stevenson portrays it to us, is very much an embodiment of Freudian concepts. The issues raised in the novel find resonance with the Freudian concepts of instincts, life and death instincts, and the structural theory of the mind. The characters in the novel manifest characteristics of Freud’s theory of the mind. Mr. Hyde would seem easily recognizable as the id, seeking instant gratification, having an aggressive instinct, and having no moral or social mores that need be followed. He takes pleasure in violence and similar to the death instinct ultimately leads to his own destruction. Dr. Jekyll is then the ego; he is conscious and rational, and is dominated by social principles. He has a difficult time juggling between the demands of the id, represented by Mr. Hyde. In the novel, Dr. Jekyll gives in to his impulses and after initial pleasure soon cannot control their power. Rather than let Mr. Hyde go free and realizing that Hyde needs Jekyll to exist, he decides to end his own life.
Further, by labeling Mr. Hyde as a “troglodyte”, Stevenson seems to make a comment on the theories of evolution and that he considered Hyde that is savage, uncivilized, and given to passion: poorly evolved. Edward Hyde represents a regression to an earlier, less civilized, and more violent phase of human development.
The novel needs to be looked at in the context of its setting of Victorian London. Stevenson seems to make a comment not only about the dualism present in every individual but also in society as a whole, where the aristocracy that superficially were genteel and refined, had dark secrets to hide behind the high walls of the mansions in which they lived. Most of the action takes place in the night time and much of it in the poorer districts of London, considered the abode of evil-doers. Most significantly, Mr. Hyde enters and leaves Dr. Jekyll's house through the back door which seems a metaphor for the evil that lies behind the façade of civilization and refinement.
In this film, we see a connection to Freudian concepts and ideas, specifically in the realm of the unconscious. Mr. Hyde is a culmination of the unconscious and inherently evil impulses of Dr. Jekyll that come to the surface as a result of the potion he drinks. Furthermore, the subject of duality of man is breached in this film, in that Dr. Jekyll becomes two different people as a result of his scientific experiments…. The mentally ill patient (Mr Hyde) highlights the devil within. Instead of an evil force acting upon him, he himself becomes this evil force by becoming mentally ill and deluded. In this way, the film stereotypes and exaggerates the behaviors of what a deluded person might be, and subliminally conditions a person to fear...