Stevenson’s book puts a nice twist on the whole concept of good and evil by having the evil character residing inside the good character. In earlier gothic novels the good and evil were always separated and often the stories were set in faraway places overseas, but in his novella Stevenson has changed this by bringing the story into the habitat of the readers, setting the scene outside their houses and bringing the evil monster inside people.
At the time this must have made the story very different, the evil character could disappear and lay waiting inside Jekyll ready to burst out at any time. The concept of duality in Jekyll and Hyde is interesting because Jekyll is Hyde, the good is the evil, and Jekyll knows that inside him is something terrible and, although he tries to control it, he knows that the evil in him will come out and he will be left in the passenger seat, watching.
This is further shown in the way that Stevenson presents Hyde; Hyde is smaller than Jekyll, he is broad and hairy and rather short and Jekyll’s clothes do not fit him. This suggests that the evil side of Jekyll is smaller than his good side and can be controlled. The relationship between Jekyll and Hyde is also interesting; Stevenson relates it to the relationship between a father and a son. He writes ‘Jekyll has more of a father’s interest; and Hyde more than a son’s indifference’.
This is a strange notion because Jekyll knows that Hyde is evil and yet he still has a close relationship, this is possibly because in Hyde Jekyll sees some of himself, all of his desires and urges that he has suppressed to fit in with middle class life in London, he realises that he is Hyde, and that to destroy Hyde he must first destroy himself, and I think he decides that he can live with Jekyll and is very distressed when his drugs work less and less effectively and he realises that in time they will stop working all together and he will lose what is his good side and become what he fears the most, the evil side of man.
Another way duality is presented in Stevenson’s novella is in the setting, in the book Jekyll lives in a large house with a laboratory, this is mirrored by the fact that the other houses in his row are all dilapidated and run down. London also has a very split culture; living side by side is the upper class glamour and the dirt poor crime infested slums. Duality is also presented in the way the novella is written. The story is mainly narrated by Dr Jekyll, but it is also told from different views in the forms of letters. This gives two sides to the story.
Duality is also shown in the other characters in the book. For example, throughout the book Utterson is consumed by a desire to know more about Hyde, he goes around in his own time asking people about Hyde, he mentions Hyde to some of Jekyll’s friends and when they say that they haven’t heard of him it only fuels his compulsion to find out about Hyde. At one point he is even tempted to open the letter that Jekyll had given to him and specifically said not to open until his death, just to discover more about Hyde. This shows that Utterson also has a good side and a bad side, further continuing the duality theme.