Essay about Discuss How Robert Louis Stevenson Explores the Topic of Duality in His Gothic Fiction Novel 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'

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English Coursework

The Gothic fiction novel “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886, is a novel about a man torn by the desire to separate the good and evil inside people. The plot beholds a scientist who finds a way to literally separate his good from his evil by drinking a potion. The plot picks up on the Victorian hypocrisy that crippled people into being society’s idea of ‘good’ and the shallow nature of the Victorians and how they judged character by appearance. At this particular era classes still reigned, so this meant that reputation was still more important than anything, and if being ‘respectable’ meant suppressing inner desires or altering the person you were and having to live with that, then
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The description written by Stevenson was ‘Mr Hyde was pale and dwarfish…impression of deformity…displeasing smile…Unknown disgust loathing and fear with which Mr Utterson regarded him’ ‘hardly human…troglodytic…foul soul…’ all these paint an very marking picture of what an awful person this man must be. He also gets a reference to Satan ‘If ever I saw Satan signature upon a face, it would be that of your new friend.’ I think this reference is very important; because I believe Hyde to be a metaphor for the Satan we each have to fight everyday. Jekyll we know to be completely physically contrasting and this is important as it plays with the social historical context. Mr Jekyll was a plain looking man, nothing hugely appealing nor particularly repulsive…And this is similar to that of his personality. Mr Hyde however is hugely ugly and very repulsive thus again connecting with his character; and this is exactly what the Victorian’s believed.

The novel’s two endings have a certain connotation that again plays with the idea of duality. We are not just given the ending from the perspective from one person, but two. But, more obviously, this was important for Stevenson to write so that the reader could be given a full