Stevenson's Use of the Concept of Duality in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' was written during the 19th century by Robert
Louis Stevenson. It was written during a time where Victorian society
had a lot of strong moral values. These values were very strict and
controlled every aspect of the Victorian lifestyle. Aggression and
fighting was looked down on and arguments were much preferred to be
settled verbally. Hostile behaviour could even be seen as a sin and
could transform the image of a person. The upper class society had a
high status and stuck to these moral values in fear of losing their
dignity. They didn't seen to cause any sins and looked down on and
accused lower classed individuals. However during this period there
was much hypocrisy around. Although there was a polite, well groomed
exterior there seem to be a hidden interior which was evil and sin.
Stevenson explores this issue in Jekyll and Hyde, and, taken from
Darwin's ideas, gives us a message of the 'beast within us all.'
Stevenson uses various techniques in order to keep the reader
interested-but the concept and the contrast of duality is the main
feature, which not only keep the reader interested but also keeps
him/her thinking. He uses this double-sided personality not only in
humans but also in places and objects also such as towns and houses.
Although Charles Darwin's ideas of a man descended from apes were
highly controversial at the time, Stevenson takes this idea further in
the book and we discover that people tended to cover up their
animalistic nature because of the restricted Victorian society.
This type of duality is seen clearly in Mr. Utterson, whom we are
introduced to in the first chapter. We are told of his 'rugged
countenance' and how he is 'lean, long, dusty and yet somehow
loveable.' 'Dusty and dreary' are a contrast to 'loveable' and so we
already pick out two sides in a personality. We are immediately aware
of his high moral standards. 'He is austere with himself' therefore he
disallows himself to indulge or enjoy himself, 'though he enjoyed the
theatre, he had not crossed the door of one for twenty years.'
Utterson seems to be the ideal Victorian man. However we know that in
previous years he has allowed his darker interior side of him to show.
When thinking about his past he is 'humbled to dust by the many ill
things he has done.'
From the first chapter we can also interpret the different sides to
one family. Along with Utterson, we are introduced to Mr Richard
Enfield, who is a distant relation to Utterson. Enfield is described
as, 'a well-known man about town,' which suggests he is less than
respectable. Utterson is attracted to the dark side of Enfield as he
'envied the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds.' This
again underlines the hidden aspects of...