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How Does Stevenson Portray the Duality of Man in the Opening Chapters of ‘the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’? Essay

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Stevenson writes ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ with the intention of showing the reader the duality of man and explores this through the juxtaposition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In this novella, Stevenson also uses the environment and setting of the story to represent the contrast between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the opening chapters of ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, the Soho area of Victorian London is described negatively and disapprovingly, compared to other areas of Victorian London An example of this is in the chapter of ‘The Carew Murder Case’, where the Soho area is described as “… district of some city in a nightmare.

” This shows that Soho is not an ideal place to live and using the word ‘nightmare’, Stevenson makes it appear scary to the reader as would a nightmare that a person has whilst sleeping. This also creates juxtaposition between Soho and Victorian London, as Victorian London was a very industrial city where the breakthrough in machinery and technology had just begun, whilst here, a part of this Victorian London is being described as a nightmare.

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Stevenson shows the reader that duality exists everywhere (not just within man) and introduces contrast and duality as the theme using the setting of the novella.

Additionally, another one of Stevenson’s intentions is to portray Mr. Hyde’s characteristics and features through his descriptions of the Soho area. In the chapter, ‘The Search for Mr. Hyde’, Mr. Utterson says, “… the man seems hardly human! ” This suggests that he is perhaps a monster of some sort, just like those you hear of in the common ‘nightmare’ people experience. In ‘The Carew Murder Case’, Mr. Utterson says, “… and it’s lamps, which had never been extinguished or had been kindled afresh to combat this mournful reinvasion of darkness. (referring to the Soho area) Here, Stevenson suggests that area is neglected and no one has bothered to care for or look after it, perhaps pointing towards the reason why the Soho area is in this state. Alternatively, this quote could also portray Dr. Jekyll’s alter ego (Mr. Hyde) being neglected, perhaps the reason why Stevenson chose to write a novella about a respectable man occasionally turning into a monster. To show or prove that perhaps neglecting your deepest desires or needs all the time is not always good and can result in disaster and in this case, the appearance of Mr. Hyde.

In particular, Stevenson could be referring to the Victorian times. During the Victorian era, many things that maybe in today’s modern times are seen as acceptable, in the Victorian times were seen as unacceptable. An example of this is homosexuality. It was extremely frowned upon in the Victorian era and therefore was something of a secret to hide so that one could be seen as socially acceptable, whereas nowadays, being a homosexual is accepted by a larger amount of society than it was before. Stevenson tries to tell his Victorian readers to become more tolerant of others and less judgemental.

At the same time, he sends a message to his modern day audience, telling them that it can be damaging to keep these secrets locked inside one’s mind which may contribute to insanity as the end result (E. g. Mr. Hyde). On the other hand, Stevenson could’ve written this with the intention of comparing man and his deepest desires to Victorian London and the Soho area, with Victorian London representing mankind and the Soho area representing one’s deepest desires locked away within mankind as is Soho within Victorian London.

Whilst the grand majority wish to hide away Soho (man’s dark secrets), they also wish to show off the rest of Victorian London (the social norm). This is also an example of Stevenson showcasing man’s deepest desires in a negative light, yet again, desires and secrets that might not have been socially acceptable in the Victorian era, hence the reason why Stevenson described Soho in a negative way as “… this mournful reinvasion of darkness. ” Stevenson wrote this to portray the duality of man and to show that it did and probably still does exist.

In the opening chapters of ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, not only does Stevenson portray Mr. Hyde through his descriptions, but he also creates juxtaposition between Mr. Hyde and his descriptions, making the reader feel confused about the character of Mr. Hyde as is Mr. Utterson during the first few chapters. For example, in ‘The Carew Murder Case’, the interior of Mr. Hyde’s house is described as “… furnished with luxury and good taste. ” This shows juxtaposition between Mr. Hyde’s house and himself, as Mr.

Hyde would never be described as ‘luxurious’ or a man with ‘good taste’. Also, I think that Stevenson wrote this intending to give the reader a feeling of annoyance towards Mr. Hyde just as Mr. Utterson would be feeling at this point. The fact that Mr. Hyde’s house is being described as ‘luxurious’ makes the reader feel that it’s unjust that someone as horrid as Mr. Hyde could be so easily concealed by the interior of his house to a stranger. Stevenson’s intentions here were to have the reader feel more resent and hate for Mr.

Hyde and to, again, show a different form and method of mankind’s dual personality being concealed. There is a saying that keeping your secrets or real thoughts bottled up for too long will only cause agitation and will result in the bottle exploding and leaving nothing but destruction in its path. Stevenson has shown this danger throughout the plot of his novella as Dr. Jekyll could be seen as the bottled up secrets and true personality whilst Mr. Hyde is represented as the exploding bottle causing destruction along its path. Stevenson also creates juxtaposition between Dr.

Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during the opening chapters, as he describes them both in completely opposite ways. For instance, in the ‘Search for Mr. Hyde’, Mr. Utterson says, “… if ever I read Satan’s signature upon a face, it is on that of your new friend. ” Here, Stevenson suggests that maybe Mr. Hyde is the artwork of Satan, just as an artist signs his name on a piece of completed work or perhaps that Mr. Hyde is Satan himself in disguise. Stevenson’s modern day audience may not think much of him using the word “Satan” to describe Mr.

Hyde’s appearance, but in the Victorian era, England was a very Christian country, people were extremely religious and were very disapproving of blasphemy or the use of words that may relate to hell or the devil, hence the Victorian reader feeling shocked at seeing such language and words being used in the novella. On the contrary, in ‘Dr. Jekyll was quite at ease’, Dr. Jekyll is described as “-a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty. ” This is a big contrast from Mr. Hyde’s description as Dr.

Jekyll is portrayed to be a man of good looks and not as a man with a ‘displeasing smile’, that Mr. Hyde seems to be described as. Additionally, not only has Stevenson set out to create juxtaposition between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but he could possibly want to show how surreal and unrealistic Dr. Jekyll is by describing him as ‘well-made’. The word, ‘well-made’, suggests not something you would use to describe a human, but a machine. I think that Stevenson could have been trying to show that a perfect and respectable man that people look up to, such as Dr.

Jekyll, does not exist in the real world and if Stevenson wanted to show that it is possible to exist, he would have described Dr. Jekyll with adjectives you would use more to describe humans not machines. The fact that Stevenson chose to use the word “well-made” to describe Dr. Jekyll could also make a link to the story of Frankenstein. Being a living thing that was actually made not naturally but in the way you would machinery, Frankenstein could definitely fit the description of “well-made”, therefore suggesting the possibility of Stevenson attempting to create a link or comparison between Dr.

Jekyll and Frankenstein as Frankenstein was an attempt to create perfection in a living being which ended in a monstrous result and as Dr. Jekyll was the perfect living being, but still ended with the displeasing result of the appearance of Mr. Hyde. These stories and characters are used by Stevenson to show that perfection in any shape or form is impossible. Stevenson also creates juxtaposition between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde using a different method and technique.

For example, in “The Carew Murder Case”, when Mr. Hyde’s second attack is described, his movements are described as “… ape-like fury… ” This shows Mr. Hyde’s actions to be animalistic and savage as his rage is compared to that of an ape’s. Looking at the time period Stevenson wrote this novella in, you could link Stevenson’s comparison of Mr. Hyde and an ape to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution which was very controversial at the time. Stevenson portrays the duality of man through this as he describes Mr.

Hyde as an ape and with Darwin’s theory in mind, Stevenson could have had the image of the evolution spectrum on ape turning into man stage by stage with Mr. Hyde representing the ape and Dr. Jekyll representing the modern man, portraying the duality of man. To conclude, Stevenson once said, ‘I had long been trying to write a story on this subject, to find a body, a vehicle, for that strong sense of man’s double being which must at times come in upon and overwhelm the mind of every thinking creature. Stevenson consistently uses a variety of techniques and devices throughout ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ to show how ‘perfection’ is simply an unrealistic concept and that it “… must at times come in upon and overwhelm the mind of every thinking creature. ’ And would simply result in the awakening of “… that strong sense of man’s double beingAlternatively, you could also say that Stevenson’s theory proved to be true. Two years after the novella was written, in 1888, the infamous murders by Jack the Ripper began.

His attacks were similar to those of Mr. Hyde and some think that the character of Mr. Hyde inspired the killings. Jack the Ripper is another example of someone who perhaps had inner desires and feelings all bottled up and his particular ‘explosion’ consisted of a series of brutal murders. To avoid that disastrous exploding bottle of agitated secrecy, society and the people within that society should act themselves and the idea of ‘perfection’ should not be expected of anyone. This was Stevenson’s message within the novella.

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How Does Stevenson Portray the Duality of Man in the Opening Chapters of ‘the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’? Essay. (2017, Feb 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/how-does-stevenson-portray-the-duality-of-man-in-the-opening-chapters-of-the-strange-case-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/

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