The Use of the Setting, Narration, and Direct Characterization to Depict the Theme of Duality in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a Novel by Robert Louis Stevenson

Analysis of Stylistic Figures in Dr. Jekyll and Mr.

Hyde Every day, innocent people are brutally murdered. Within the same time frame, brave civilians commit great acts of heroism, risking their lives for the betterment of others. After analyzing the wicked and courageous acts individuals undergo, one is obliged to examine human nature. How can mankind be capable of such terrible and amazing behaviors? Literary works have attempted to answer this question for decades, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is no exception. In his novel, Stevenson focuses on mankind’s seemingly dual nature, being both wicked and pure. One of the protagonists of the book, Dr. Jekyll, is especially tortured by his twofold personality, with his impure desires tainting his virtuous intentions. In an attempt to separate his moral and evil selves, Dr. Jekyll unintentionally creates his villainous alter-ego Mr. Hyde. Through these two characters and a variety of stylistic figures, Stevenson explores the intricacies of humanity, attempting to delineate human nature.

Thus, in the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson’s utilization of setting, multiple narrators, and direct characterization successfully develops the theme of the duality of mankind, exposing the depths of the human soul.

Stevenson’s symbolic utilization of setting effectively highlights the contrastingly virtuous and vile characteristics of humanity, upholding the theme of the duality of mankind while illustrating the complexities of human nature. In developing a multitude of unique settings, Stevenson represents the complexities of mankind. Within the first few pages, the author utilizes this stylistic figure while describing the street two characters, Utterson and Enfield, are ambling through.

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While the general stores resemble a series of smiling saleswomen, a crime-filled block of buildings is also nearby (Stevenson 4-5). The general stores, with their inviting atmospheres, represent the positive aspect of mankind, illustrating one personality that characterizes humanity. However, the sinister block, which resides in the same locality, represents the darker quality of human nature, revealing the complexities of the human soul and the theme of the duality of mankind overall. In the article “The Relationship of Theme and Art in The Strange Case of Dr.

Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” literary critic Joseph Egan emphasizes the symbolic nature of the setting in this tale, writing, “Hyde’s sinister doorway” is “the appropriate symbol of the back door’to Henry Jekyll’s soul” (Egan). As Egan directly maintains, the sinister doorway represents Hyde’s evil presence within the most animalistic aspect of Jekyll’s moralistic mind. Hence, Stevenson continues to maintain the central idea of the duality of mankind through the symbolic use of setting, exposing the complex nature of all individuals. Again, as author Theresa Adams declares, “As a physical environment, the city mirrors the dreadful duality of some of its inhabitants” (Adams). In this quote, Adams is emphasizing the symbolic nature of the setting, which further emphasizes mankind’s two alter-egos and the theme of the duality of human nature overall.

Therefore, the utilization of multiple settings unveils the juxtaposing traits that all humans contain, maintaining the theme of the mankind’s dual characteristics. Although Stevenson’s masterful implementation of setting symbolically contributes to his theme, this very stylistic figure serves another purpose.

Stevenson’s mysterious setting efficiently aids in the development of suspense, emphasizing the central idea of the duality of human nature while discerning the depths of humanity. When Enfield first recounts his meeting with Mr. Hyde, the dark setting foreshadows the presence of this evil being. In describing the area he resolves to walk through at three o’clock in the morning, Enfield feels as if he has discovered the end of the world, with fear spreading throughout his body (Stevenson 5-6). This dark, foreboding setting engages the readers, creating a sense of dread as to the events that may transpire in such a dangerous location. By captivating the audience, Stevenson can then emphasize the theme of the duality of mankind to the engaged readers, truly educating them on the depths of humanity. Thus, Adams proclaims that Stevenson develops suspense through the mysterious backdrop of the tale, with “Jekyll’s neighborhood” being “a mixed space characterized by wealth and poverty, cleanliness and dirt, repair and disrepair” (Adams). The suspense highlighted through this quote enables Stevenson to capture the audience’s attention, permitting the author to more effectively educate the readers on the theme of the duality of mankind. Hence, as the article “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” maintains, Stevenson’s mysterious description of London foreshadows the developing presence of wickedness in the novel, creating a sense of suspense (“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”). Through this paraphrase, the connection between the setting and the suspense of the novel is revealed, engaging the readers while maintaining the theme of the duality of mankind. Therefore, by creating such a foreboding setting, Stevenson can capture his audience’s attention. In doing so, the author can more effectively convey the theme of mankind’s dual nature to the engaged readers, exposing the depths of humanity. In addition to setting, Stevenson also utilizes the stylistic figure of multiple narrators to develop a sense of suspense, emphasizing the central idea of the novel.

Through the successful implementation of multiple narrators, Stevenson further contributes to the suspense of the novel, illustrating the theme of the duality of mankind while uncovering the depths of the human soul. One of the first characters to act as a narrator in the novel is Utterson, who is a friend of Dr. Jekyll. Utterson is ignorant to the connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and fears for the doctor’s safety. In one particular sentence, Utterson proclaims, “It turns me quite cold to think of this creature stealing like a thief to Harry’s bedside” (Stevenson 20). In this quote, the narrator is worrying about his companion, believing that Dr. Jekyll is being blackmailed by Mr. Hyde. Through this use of an ignorant narrator, Stevenson conceals the true circumstances surrounding Dr. Jekyll’s situation from the readers, generating suspense. This suspense engages the readers, obliging them to comprehend the theme of the duality of mankind and the intricacies of humanity overall. Thus, as literary critic Edwin Eigner writes in the essay “Robert Louis Stevenson and Romantic Tradition”, “No doubt this oblique approach to narration added to the suspense and mystery for the work’s initial audience” (Eigner). Throughout his article, Eigner maintains that the author’s utilization of multiple narrators adds to the mystery involved in the novel, persuading the audience to analyze every single word for a hint as to the connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Therefore, the suspense created through multiple narrators captivates the readers, obliging them to recognize the theme of the duality of mankind among all the other elements of the novel. Again, as multiple literary critics declare, Stevenson’s implementation of multiple narrators creates suspense, strengthening the novel’s focus on duplicity (“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”). Through this paraphrase, a direct correlation is created between the central idea of duplicity and Stevenson’s utilization of multiple narrators, proving that this stylistic device upholds the theme of the novel.

Overall, Stevenson’s use of multiple narrators enables the generation of suspense; this suspense captures the readers’ attention and allows them to truly comprehend all aspects of the novel, including the theme of the duality of mankind and the purpose of revealing the depths of humanity to the readers. This implementation of multiple narrators further upholds this central idea by illustrating the complex nature of the protagonists.

Stevenson’s efficacious usage of multiple narrators furthers the complexities of the characters Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, upholding the theme of the duality of mankind while exposing the intricacies of humanity. In progressively developing the layered personalities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with neither protagonist being as simplistic as first described, the implementation of multiple narrators aids in the evolution of these characters. During the very beginning of the book, Utterson’s companion, named Enfield, describes his negative experience when first encountering Mr. Hyde. Enfield relates to Utterson that, at first glance, Mr. Hyde resembled a Juggernaut more so than a human being (Stevenson 6). Through Enfield’s brief story, the audience is able to brush the surface of the two alter-egos, gaining a brief glimpse into the superficially unkind nature of Mr. Hyde and the general goodness of Dr. Jekyll. Hence, by slowly unveiling the characteristics of the protagonists through multiple narrators, Stevenson exposes the numerous layers of human nature, emphasizing the theme of the duality of mankind.

As writer Irving Massey states, Dr. Jekyll’s colleague, Lanyon, later provides a more detailed description of Mr. Hyde’s personality, emphasizing his truly diabolical nature (Massey). Through these two narrators, Stevenson is better able to investigate the utter immorality humans are capable of, with Lanyon revealing the utter depths of Mr. Hyde’s evilness. For this reason, the author’s use of multiple narrators contributes to the theme of the duality of mankind, gradually uncovering the depths of human nature. In the essay “The Anatomy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” literary critic Irving Saposnik writes, “The three separable narrative voices – Enfield, Lanyon, Jekyll – are placed in successive order so that they add increasing rhetorical and psychological dimension to the events they describe” (Saposnik). Saposnik is declaring that Stevenson’s use of a multitude narrators aids in the intricate descriptions of Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll, utilizing the depth of the protagonists to highlight mankind’s duality. Therefore, the author’s implementation of multiple narrators aids in the depiction of Mr. Hyde as a truly evil individual and of Dr. Jekyll as an utterly virtuous character, constantly emphasizing the theme of the duality of mankind while exhibiting the depths of human nature. However, the author’s ambiguous use of direct characterization also contributes to the central idea being analyzed.

Stevenson’s vague direct characterization of Mr. Hyde generalizes the villain’s actions to encompass all civilizations, successfully emphasizing the evil aspect of the theme of mankind’s duality while exposing the depths of the human soul. Within the first few pages of the novel, Utterson encounters the devilish Mr. Hyde, who “gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation” (Stevenson 18). The vague sense of “malformation” the author directly characterizes Mr. Hyde to maintain emphasizes the villainous, animalistic quality that subtly composes all humans. Hence, this stylistic figure generalizes the protagonist’s evilness to human beings, highlighting the wickedness that partially composes all individuals and the theme of the duality of mankind in general. From a symbolical point of view, author Peter Conolly-Smith proclaims, “By suggesting that Hyde might be a criminal, the novel turns him into a blank slate upon whom the novel’s middle class readership projects its own fantasies of aberrance” (Conolly-Smith). Based on this quote, Stevenson’s direct characterization of Mr. Hyde as the generally immoral aspect of mankind aids in the development of the theme of mankind’s duality, exposing the contrastingly evil and virtuous traits that compose all of humanity. Once more, literary critic Edwin Eigner maintains that Mr. Hyde is the wicked face of the dual sided coin that is humanity (Eigner). In directly characterizing Mr. Hyde as a vaguely evil individual, with Dr.

Jekyll symbolizing the virtuous side of mankind, Stevenson exposes the two sides of the coin that is human nature. Thus, in directly characterizing Mr. Hyde as the wickedness found in every individual, the stylistic figure illustrates the central idea of humans’ dual nature, exposing the various qualities that compose humanity. The author’s ambiguous characterization of Dr. Jekyll further emphasizes this central idea.  By directly characterizing Dr. Jekyll in a vaguely virtuous manner, Stevenson effectively depicts the moralistic side of human nature, upholding the theme of the duality of mankind while revealing the complexities of humanity. Utilizing direct characterization, Utterson describes Dr.

Jekyll as the quintessence of kindness (Stevenson 21). By depicting the doctor in such an ambiguous and pure manner, Stevenson illustrates the benevolent qualities that compose the entire human race. Hence, the author’s vague use of direct characterization emphasizes the moral sphere of mankind, highlighting the theme of the duality of mankind while exposing the complexities of humanity. In fact, Dr. Jekyll directly describes his own personality, making “the happiness of many, but I have found it hard to reconcile with my imperious desire to wear more than commonly grave countenance before the public” (Stevenson 70). In failing to state the moral acts he feels compelled to carry out, Dr. Jekyll exhibits Stevenson’s vague use of direct characterization. The author implements this stylistic figure to illustrate the undefined virtuousness of humanity; Stevenson emphasizes the pureness that partially composes mankind and the intricacies of the human soul overall, maintaining the theme of human nature’s duality.

Again, as literary critic Masao Miyoshi writes, Dr. Jekyll’s obscure morality enables Stevenson to generalize the protagonist’s traits to all of humanity (Miyoshi). Miyoshi is exposing Stevenson’s resolution to characterize Dr. Jekyll as the undefined morality of society, revealing the purity that partially composes human nature and the theme of the duality of mankind. Therefore, through the utilization of direct characterization throughout the novel, Stevenson highlights the central idea of the duality of mankind, unveiling the complexities of human nature.

In the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson develops the theme of the duality of mankind through the utilization of multiple stylistic figures. Through the implementation of setting, Stevenson symbolically illustrates the central idea, revealing the depths of humanity. This device is also utilized to create a sense of suspense, engaging the audience so as to better emphasize the theme of humanity’s dual nature. Stevenson’s application of multiple narrators serves a dual purpose. The stylistic figure adds to the suspense of the novel, further captivating the readers in an attempt to stress the theme of the duality of mankind.

Moreover, the multiple narrators develop the complexities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, facilitating the analysis of the intricacies of humanity. Finally, the implementation of direct characterization enables the generalization of Dr. Jekyll’s and Mr. Hyde’s contrasting personalities to humanity, illustrating the theme of the duality of mankind while disclosing the overall complexities of human nature. Therefore, Robert Louis Stevenson’s utilization of setting, multiple narrators, and direct characterization in the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effectively emphasizes the central idea of the duality of mankind, revealing the intricacies of the human soul.

 

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The Use of the Setting, Narration, and Direct Characterization to Depict the Theme of Duality in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a Novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. (2022, Feb 23). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/the-use-of-the-setting-narration-and-direct-characterization-to-depict-the-theme-of-duality-in-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-a-novel-by-robert-louis-stevenson/

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