How Robert Louis Stevenson Has Used Story Telling, Setting And Characterization To Bring Out The Theme Of Duality In The Novel Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Analysis of the Stylistic Figures In Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Every day, innocents are brutally killed. In the same period, heroic civilians risk their lives to help others. Once one has seen the evil and heroic acts that people have committed, it is necessary to study human nature. How is it possible for humans to engage in such horrible and extraordinary behaviors? This question has been a central theme of literary works for many decades. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is no different. Stevenson’s novel centers on the dual nature of mankind, which is both evil and good. Dr. Jekyll (one of the main characters) is particularly affected by his dual personality. His impurities cloud his good intentions and he suffers from a host of other problems. Dr. Jekyll inadvertently creates Mr. Hyde to help him separate his morality from his evil. Stevenson explores humanity through the complex interplay of these characters and other stylistic characters. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novel that explores the dualities of man and reveals the depths and soul of the human heart.

Stevenson’s symbolic use of settings effectively highlights the opposingly virtuous as well as the vile aspects of humanity. His work also speaks to the dual nature of man, illustrating the complexity in human nature. Stevenson’s ability to create a variety of settings is a testament to the complexity of humanity. This stylistic figure is used by the author to describe the street where two characters, Utterson & Enfield, walk. The general stores appear to be a group of smiling saleswomen. However, there’s a block of crime-ridden buildings nearby. With their friendly atmospheres, general stores are a positive representation of humanity. The sinister block, however, is located in the same area and represents the dark side of humanity. It reveals the complexity of the human soul as well as the theme of duality. Joseph Egan, a literary critic, writes in “The Relationship Between Theme And Art in The Strange Case Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” that Hyde’s sinister portalway is “the appropriate symbol to Henry Jekyll’s soul”. Egan asserts that Hyde’s negative presence is a part of Jekylls most animalistic and moralistic nature. Stevenson maintains the central idea that there is a duality to mankind by symbolically setting the scene, which exposes the complex nature of each individual. Author Theresa Adams states, “As an environment, the city mirrors some of its residents’ dreadful dualities” (Adams). Adams emphasizes the symbolic nature in the setting by quoting Adams. This further highlights mankind’s dual egos and the overall theme of duality. Multiple settings allow for the display of juxtaposing traits, which reflects the dual nature of mankind. Stevenson’s skilled use of setting symbolically contributes to the theme. But Stevenson’s mysterious setting serves another purpose. Stevenson’s setting effectively aids in suspense development, emphasizing both the central idea about the duality and depths human nature. Enfield’s first encounter with Mr. Hyde is a foreshadowing of the presence and evil nature. Enfield describes the place he decides to walk through at 3 o’clock in morning. Fear is spreading throughout his body. (Stevenson 5-6). The dark and foreboding setting creates a fear in the reader, and a feeling of terror about the possible events. Stevenson is able to draw in the audience and emphasize the theme that there is a duality between man and nature, which can be a powerful way of educating the readers about the deepest parts of humanity. Adams asserts that Stevenson builds suspense by using the mysterious backdrop to the tale. “Jekyll’s Neighborhood” is described as “a mixed area characterized with wealth and poverty. Cleanliness and dirt, repair, and disrepair, and cleanliness.” Stevenson’s use of suspense to grab the attention of his audience through this quote allows him to better educate them on the topic of the dual nature of man. The article “Dr. According to the article “Dr. Jekyll. This paraphrase helps to reveal the relationship between the setting, suspense, and the novel’s theme. Stevenson is able to grab the attention of his readers by creating a dark and threatening setting. The author is able to convey the theme that mankind has two natures to the readers in a more effective way, which exposes the humanity beneath. Stevenson employs multiple narrators in order to build suspense and emphasise the central idea.

Stevenson adds suspense to the novel by utilizing multiple narrators. He illustrates the dual nature of man while exploring the depths and soul of human beings. Utterson is Dr. Jekyll’s friend and one of the characters who acts as the novel’s narrator. Utterson is unaware of the connections between Dr. Jekyll’s and Mr. Hyde. He fears for his safety. Utterson states, “It makes me very cold to think about this creature stealing like Harry’s thief” (Stevenson 20). This quote is about the narrator worrying about his companion. It seems that he believes Dr. Jekyll was being blackmailed. Stevenson uses an ignorant narrator to hide the real circumstances of Dr. Jekyll’s life from his readers, creating suspense. The suspense keeps the readers engaged, making it easier to grasp the themes of the duality and intricacies that humanity as a whole. Edwin Eigner wrote in his essay “Robert Louis Stevenson: Romantic Tradition” that this “no doubt this oblique method of narration added to its suspense, mystery and appeal for the work’s original audience.” Eigner argues that multiple narrators added to the mystery of the novel. He encourages the readers to read every word to find out the connection between Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. Eigner believes that multiple narrators add suspense to the story, which entices the reader and helps them recognize the theme about the duality between man and nature. Multiple literary critics agree that Stevenson’s use a variety of narrators adds suspense to the novel, and reinforces its focus on duplicity (“Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde”. This paraphrase establishes a direct link between Stevenson’s central theme of duplicity & Stevenson’s use o multiple narrators. The novel’s main theme is upheld by this stylistic device. Stevenson uses multiple narrators to create suspense. This keeps the readers engaged and allows them the opportunity to understand the entire novel. Multiple narrators are a way to illustrate the complexity of the protagonists, which is a central idea.

Stevenson’s clever use of multiple narrations furthers the complexity and humanity of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. As Dr. Jekyll’s and Mr. Hyde develop layers of personalities, neither one is as simple as it seems, multiple narrators assist in their evolution. Utterson’s companion Enfield, who is the author’s first contact with Mr. Hyde, recounts his unpleasant experience. Enfield describes to Utterson his negative experience with Mr. Hyde at first. He said that he looked more like an alien Juggernaut than a human being. (Stevenson six). Enfield’s quick story allows the audience to glimpse the underbelly of these alter-egos. They also get a glimpse into Dr. Jekyll’s goodness and superficially unkind nature. Stevenson explores the human complexity by slowly revealing the traits of each protagonist through multiple narrators. He also emphasizes the theme that there is a duality to mankind. Irving Massey states that Dr. Jekyll’s companion, Lanyon gives a more detailed account of Mr. Hyde’s personality, emphasizing the truly evil nature of his character (Massey). Stevenson can examine the total immorality of human behavior through the eyes of these two narrators. Lanyon is able to expose the darkest depths and wickedness of Mr. Hyde. Because of this, Stevenson uses multiple narrators in order to bring out the themes of duality and humanity. Irving Saposnik, literary critic and essayist, wrote that the three separate narrative voices – Enfield Lanyon and Jekyll – are placed in succession so that they add increasing rhetorical and psychological dimension to the events described. Saposnik claims Stevenson’s use innumerable narrators is a tool to help him describe Mr. Hyde or Dr. Jekyll. Saposnik also uses the depth and humanity of his protagonists to bring out the duality of mankind. In order to emphasize the duality of mankind, Saposnik uses multiple narrators. The central idea is also helped by the author’s use of indirect characterization.

Stevenson’s vaguely direct portrayal Mr. Hyde’s actions by Utterson aims to make the villain’s actions universal across all civilizations. Stevenson successfully emphasizes mankind’s evil nature while showing the depths and humanity of the human spirit. Utterson first encounters Mr. Hyde the devilish, who “gave a impression of deformity sans any nameable Malformation” (Stevenson18). In order to emphasize the evil, animalistic nature of all humans, Utterson gives Mr. Hyde a vague sense “malformation”. This stylistic figure focuses on the evil nature of Mr. Hyde to human beings and highlights the inherent wickedness of all people. Peter Conolly Smith declares that Hyde might have been a criminal. This makes the novel a blank canvas upon which the novel’s middle-class readership projects its own fantasies and aberrances. Stevenson’s portrayal of Mr. Hyde in this way by describing him as the moral aspect of mankind assists in the development the theme that mankind is dual, which exposes both the virtuous and evil aspects of all humanity. Edwin Eigner (literary critic) asserts that Mr. Hyde is the evil face of humanity’s dual-sided coin. Stevenson exposes human nature’s two sides by characterizing Mr. Hyde in a vaguely devilish person, while Dr. Jekyll represents the virtuous. The stylistic figure depicts the central idea that humans have a dual nature and reveals the diverse qualities that make up humanity by describing Mr. Hyde as the evilness found within every person. This central idea is further emphasized by the author’s vague description of Dr. Jekyll.

Stevenson accurately portrays Dr. Jekyll’s moralistic side by describing him in a vaguely virtuous way. This allows Stevenson to uphold the theme of duality and reveal the complexity of humanity. Utterson uses direct characterization to describe Dr. Jekyll (Stevenson 21). Stevenson portrays Dr. Jekyll as a benevolent being in a clear and ambiguous manner. The author’s use of indirect characterization highlights the moral sphere and humanity, while also exposing the complexity of human nature. Jekyll’s personality is a direct description of his own, which makes him “the happiness and strength of many”, although he admits that it was difficult for him to accept his imperious desire to be more than a common grave countenance before the general public (Stevenson 70). Stevenson’s lack of direct description shows in Dr. Jekyll’s failure to list the moral acts that he feels compelled. Stevenson uses this figure as a stylistic illustration to demonstrate the undefined virtuousness and humanity of Dr. Jekyll. Stevenson also highlights the purity of mankind and the intricate nature of the human soul, while keeping the theme about human nature’s duality. Masao Miyoshi, the literary critic, says that Dr. Jekyll has an obscure morality which allows Stevenson (Miyoshi) to generalize his traits to all people. Miyoshi exposes Stevenson’s resolve to define Dr. Jekyll the undefined social morality. This reveals the purity and duality that make up human nature. Stevenson’s central idea of duality in mankind is revealed through direct character throughout his novel.

Robert Louis Stevenson explores the dual nature of man in his novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by using multiple stylistic figures. Stevenson uses setting to symbolically express the central idea and reveal the depths within humanity. This device can also be used to create suspense and engage the audience to emphasize the theme about humanity’s dual nature. Stevenson’s use multiple narrators serves dual purposes. The added suspense is a way to keep the readers interested in the novel’s theme of duality. Furthermore, multiple narrators provide a way to explore the complexity of Mr. Hyde’s character and help with the understanding of human nature. Direct characterization also allows Dr. Jekyll to generalize the contrasting personalities of Mr. Hyde and humanity. It illustrates the theme about the duality between mankind and reveals the complexity in human nature. Robert Louis Stevenson used setting, multiple narratives and direct character to emphasize the central idea, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and revealed the depths of human nature.


  • nicholashopkins

    Nicholas Hopkins is a social media teacher, writer and educator. He has been blogging since 2009, and has since published over 20 articles and taught social media in high school and college. He is currently a social media teacher and blogger at Nicholas Hopkins Academy.