The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde book cover
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How and why does Robert Louis Stevenson explore the duality of human nature in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

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Stevenson explores the duality of human nature, meaning that we have the capacity for both good and evil, by presenting Dr. Jekyll, a man who has struggled in vain with the darker side of himself that he wishes to suppress or eliminate. Unable to conquer it through the force of his own willpower, Dr. Jekyll has determined to try to separate his less scrupulous side out so that it can be eliminated and he will feel no longer feel a compulsion to do the immoral things it has previously driven him to do. Tellingly, however, the evil side of Dr. Jekyll proves to be more powerful than the good side, and it becomes impossible for him to control it.

Dr. Jekyll tries to look for an easy way out: he doesn't want to struggle with his baser impulses, he just wants them to disappear altogether. Stevenson seems to be making a statement about the necessity of the struggle and the terrible things that can happen when we feel the need to hide this part of ourselves. The incredible repression of this era, sexual and otherwise, only forces people to find new ways to gratify their less acceptable desires. It is better, perhaps, to accept that our baser natures are as necessary to us as human beings as our better natures are.

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