Ithas been argued that there are many parts to the human mind. Philosophers overtime have highlighted in their work the fact that human beings are dual beings’.There are many different types of duality. That of war and peace, good andevil, moral and immoral, reason and empathy. Inside of the mind there is the appealto do something that goes against society, against laws, even though it may bedifferent depending on the individual.
In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, RobertStevenson unveils this idea of an alternate self of one person that lives inhis creation. The novel conveys an account of the duality of human beings. In asense, human beings have split personality. There is a good and bad side toeveryone.
Although evolution has made us much wiser and more complex beings itcould be said that there is a little Mr. Hyde in all of us that resonates with anger,irritations, violence, and vicious thoughts. Morals, structure, helpfulness,and unselfishness represent the side of us that is more like Henry Jekyll. Stevenson believed that people, although refusingto accept the truth, recognized their distinctive qualities that support theideas of a bad nature. There is a duality portrayed in every character in thisnovel, but none as pronounced as Dr. Jekyll.
The novel shows how childlike curiosityabout the dual elements of our nature can lead to chaos and unmanageable events,and how the evil prevails over good when left out of control. Dr. Jekyll’s character is filled withmany dualities. He was a man of his time and is described as a “well-made man”.He had an excellent reputation which meant a lot to him and was viewed by thosearound him as a real nobleman. However, he always felt conflicted because ofhis desires to do what he wanted, to have fun and set aside the strict rules ofsociety.
Dr. Jekyll wanted to live outhis duality but with freedom from punishment and he wanted to keep his goodreputation intact which was his goal in life. In creating Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyllcreated another identity of himself which was accomplished with the help of his”transforming draught”.
Hyde’s character is one that all the other characters perceiveas evil. His appearance repulses those he comes across. This speaks to how theduality each man chooses to be exudes through them in every aspect. Hyde is revealedas small in stature and is described as dwarfish and not looking quite human. However,as the story progresses, Hyde’s size, not physically but figuratively increasesas the evil within him starts to overwhelm the mind and body shared by Jekyll. In the novel Jekyll feels, “The temptation ofa discovery so singular and profound at last overcame the suggestions of alarm”,knowing that his work with this transformation was putting his life injeopardy, but accepting it at the same time because he would finally be able toenjoy life being who he truly was he without having to constantly think ofsocial order and the burden of accountabilities. This point out that even in Dr.
Jekyll’s thought process there is duality at play, that of right and wrong, andin the event of the story the bad seems to overpower the good. The theme of duality in also seen inother characters of the novel like Mr. Utterson and Dr. Lanyon.
Mr. Utterson’scharacter is portrayed in the beginning of the novel as “a man of rugged countenance,never lighted by a smile, backward in sentiment, long, dusty, dreary, and yetsomehow lovable.” As a lawyer but also has a friend to Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Utterson’sduality becomes duty and loyalty. As he uncovers the mysteries behind theincidents in the city he puts his friendship with Dr. Jekyll above his duty tothe law and does not implicate his friend. In the case of Dr.
Lanyon’scharacter, he was faced with the duality of right and wrong when he was ambushedby Mr. Hyde’s transformation into Dr. Jekyll, which evidently caused his death.He could not continue to live in a world where what he knew to be wrong wasproven right and for him challenging the laws of science as he knew forever. The idea of duality is also shownthrough the symbols that are used.
The setting is a great symbol. There is acontrast in the street and the greyish town in the beginning of the novel. Thecity is divided into two sections – the classy side where Dr. Jekyll resideswith all the other respectable men in the city and Soho, which is illustrated asthis haunted, eerie place, where if bad things were to happen they would takeplace here. At night, those respected people would socialize down in Soho,which shows the duality of the man, in a sense that after the day is over theycould leave the respectable part of their character aside and indulge in otherpleasures.
Even the house of Dr. Jekyll has a dual appearance. The back of thehouse “bore in every feature, the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence”.
There are no windows and just a single door. The laboratory never sees sunlightand is always filled with darkness. This reflects Mr. Hyde’s personality.
Onthe other hand, the front of Dr. Jekyll’s house was exquisitely decorated and wasvastly rich and appealing. It “wore a great air of wealth and comfort”.
The cabinetis also an important representation because here is where Dr. Jekyll spends themost of this time and behind this door is the passage to the truth of each man.Mr. Hyde is not only symbolic of the evil in man but also “the beast in man”.
Thedescription of Mr. Hyde in the novel is centered around animalistic imagery. Heis said to “hiss like a snake” and “move through the streets like a juggernaut”.When Mr. Utterson comes by the house to check on Dr. Jekyll, Poole lets himknow that the man in the room “moves like a monkey” and cries out “like a rat”.
The atmosphere in the novel is helpful to the symbolism of duality. The fogthat is continuously present in the city suggests that there is fog over the charactersminds and it prevents them from seeing the truth. Every time Mr. Hyde venturesout for the night, the weather is cold and foggy, which can be related directlyto Mr. Hyde’s character.
Perhaps the more interesting interpretation of the fogginesscould be connected to Mr. Utterson who was always getting close to the truthwhat was going on but could not put his finger on it. Stevensonalso shows duality in the language used which is effective and has symbolicmeanings, choosing dialogue between characters very carefully. Jekyll likeUtterson, are both respectable men, and speak very graciously and in a reservedmanner. In contrast to them is Mr. Hyde, who speaks in a callous, direct, and willfulway.
Jekyll also uses language to distance himself from Hyde and refers to Hydeas “he”. This is an irony as they both are the same person but with such astrong duality of good and evil can distinguish themselves completely