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The Duality Of Human Nature: Men’s Roles

1902 words - 8 pages

The Duality of Human Nature: Men’s Roles

What truly defines a man? What roles should men hold in society? According to Victorian society, men should be respectful, successful and well known, which often restricted men from enjoying the pleasures of life and revealing their true self. Both Victorian writers, Robert Stevenson and Oscar Wilde, depict the roles of men in their works, while making a critique about the roles that are set by men in society. In the narrative, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson and the play The Importance of Being Earnest by Wilde, they explore the importance of duality as a matter of satiric exposition of what's wrong in Victorian society. Both writers aim at illustrating how the roles that men are expected to perform daily may lead them to create a dual identity in order to escape their restrictive life’s. Stevenson aims at depicting duality through the human nature of good versus evil that's presented through the characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In contrast, Wilde depicts duality by means of what defines earnest and transforming the word into a name, which becomes Jack’s second identity.
In the narrative, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson makes a critique about how the expectation of men’s role by society restricts and limits men to identify their self. For instance, Dr. Jeyll creates two separate identities in order to enjoy the pleasures of life. Dr. Jekyll represents a respectable, successful, noble man in society, especially through his career as a doctor that describes the ideal Victorian men, while, his second identity as Mr. Hyde is savage, dwarfish and deform, which is labeled out of the norm in society. Dr. Jekyll illustrates a restricted identity by holding up to the characteristic of Victorian men, while Mr. Hyde is a non-restricted identity that allows him to live life as he wishes to do, regardless of what others may think or say. The creation of two identities allowed Jekyll not to carry a public mask at all times to cover his own dispositions about life. The notion of the expectation of society and how it affects men is seen when Jekyll says in his statement of the case: Hence it came about that I concealed my pleasures, and that when I reached years of reflection, and began to look round me and take stock of my program and position in the world, I stood already committed to a profound duplicity of life. (Stevenson, 2200). Here the reader is able to see how the idea that society restricts the identity and pleasure of men is being used as a critique in this narrative. This passage shows how a restrictive life leads to a life of concealment in which sooner or later one begins to be curious and explore a life of one's own, even if it’s by means of a secret identity. Just as Jekyll later states “man is not truly one" (Stevenson, 2200). The reader could infer that perhaps Stevenson is suggesting that men is made up of double identities which...

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