The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
By Emily Doyle
"Man is not truly one, but truly two." Perhaps this is the most significant quote in the novel `The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", as it reflects the central theme of the novel by not only speculating the duality of humankind, but setting the framework for critical analysis and further exploration of the properties of this duality and the nature of humanity.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is one of Stevenson's most disturbing and controversial works. It is a tale of the division of man's consciousness and how a respectful doctor can become a loathed murderer, regarded by many as barely human. In this, Stevenson directly addresses the issue of the duality of mankind, and the relationship between good and evil.
This action-filled novel depicts the late-Victorian fascination with the duality of man. It can be seen via the knowledge that Jekyll gains that Stevenson learnt to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man and he introduces this controversial idea accompanied by the idea that at heart man is truly evil.
The complexity and diverse nature of the character of Henry Jekyll and his composite Edward Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a reflection of the ideology that man is not truly one, but truly two.
Contrary to what would be expected, Stevenson introduces the deformed character of Mr Hyde before he introduces a more civil Dr Jekyll, as his own character with no implications of any links to Dr Jekyll. This creates an exceptionally dramatic introduction to the controversial and intense theme of the duality of mankind, as reflected in the quote "man is not truly one, but truly two".
Introducing both Jekyll and Hyde as separate characters with no hint of any links between the two presents a chance for the audience to perceive them individually, and when it is later revealed that they are in fact the same person, it is more intensely exciting and disturbing. This separate introduction also reveals the ideology of man having two personas, one `good', and the other pure evil.
Initially, Stevenson conveys the contrasts of Jekyll and Hyde simply by their differing appearances. Hyde is predestined to be a detested character from start to finish, however Jekyll is presented as a respectable, well-known doctor, though possibly a little paranoid.
Stevenson first begins to present a degree of doubt in relation to Jekyll's reliability through his will which stated that in the case of Dr Jekyll's disappearance or unexplained absence for any period exceeding three calendar months, Hyde would continue as if stepping directly into Jekyll's shoes. Due to Dr Jekyll's apparently worrying close relationship with Mr Hyde, his public reputation begins to fracture under the pressure.
Mr Utterson begins to make assumptions of his own about the founding of Jekyll's will....