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Robert Louis Stevenson's Insight Into Human Nature Through "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde"

1163 words - 5 pages

(Aronson 2) Being from Edinburgh, Stevenson was surrounded with the well-known tales of the past and a history of duality in his hometown. Deacon Brodie and Dr. Knox were both from Edinburgh and both lived “double-lives”, this undoubtedly had a major impact upon Stevenson’s imagination and later his writings. (Stefan 5)
“While growing up Stevenson had a friend and the son of Sir James Simpson, the developer of medical anesthesia, the two friends would “experiment” with chloroform, for the enjoyment of it.” (Stefan 5) This experimenting carries a familiarity with it that would later be found in the character of Dr. Jekyll in Stevenson’s novel, where Dr. Jekyll tells in the letter upon his death that he began turning himself into Mr. Hyde for the fun of it. (Stevenson 6) As Stevenson approached his adult life, he decided to enroll at Edinburgh University. (Aronson 2) His desire to be a writer also drove him into joining social clubs that were “anti-establishment” and participate in other liberal associated activities. “He was reportedly more interested in socializing and strolling around the campus grounds than attending classes. He became involved with the bohemian culture; an anti-establishment movement made up of artists and intellectuals, and took to drinking and visiting brothels.” He dropped the name of Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson and changed it to that of Robert Louis Stevenson (Aronson 2), which was the first presence of duality in Stevenson. Although Stevenson changing his name may appear to be of small significance, it has deeper implications. Stevenson’s father, Thomas, did not like the idea of a writing career for his son and wanted him to pursue a different path for his career choice. (Aronson 2) “He had hoped his son would become an engineer like himself and enter into the family business of lighthouse design. Thomas Stevenson urged his son to study law, if not engineering, as a career to fall back upon should he fail at writing. Stevenson agreed, encouraged by his father's promise to give him £1,000 if he passed the bar exam.” (Aronson 2) “While still a student, Stevenson had a dream were he was living a double life and witness as he said, “monstrous malformations” (Mills 4) “Although Stevenson would often leave Edinburgh to escape his psychological pains, the duality in this conflict continued to haunt him.” (Stefan 5) Stevenson went to France in order to recover from yet another illness, while in France he met an American woman and began to see her, even though Stevenson knew she was still married and had two children. (Aronson 2) Stevenson and more so his parents, saw the duality in this. “Stevenson returned to Grez in 1877. He was not practicing law, nor was he earning much from his writing, having published less than ten essays in 1876. He was financially dependent on his parents, who were shocked to learn that he was courting a married woman.” (Aronson 2) Stevenson was showing love, but at the same time he was committing...

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